SUPER MOON & DIWALI IN KASHI

Having been derailed by a wonderful documentary on the Miracle Spice Turmeric which resulted in a post tilted RED GINGER, am back on track as we explore the ancient city of KASHI.

It was the Night of a relatively unknown Festival called “DEV DIWALI” and the Moon was exceptionally bright as well.

The Picture below is of a brightly illuminated boat locally called “Jal Pari” which translates to “River Fairy”.

night-of-supermoon
Watching the Ganges Flow

As the Holy waters of the River Ganges gently caressed the “Jal Pari” ,the  Full Moon turned out in a Fiery Hue of Red.

Diwali or the Festival of Lights is much like Christmas ,in many a way ,and always celebrated on a Pitch dark Night when the moon cannot be seen.

Then how is it then this night  of “DEV DIWALI” the moon shines so bright in Kashi  ?( do check on previous blogs titled BLISS IN KASHI, BIRDS VIEW IN KASHI and INVOLUNTARY DIP IN KASHI)

jal-pari
The “Jal Pari” on the Ganges

It is the 14th of Novemeber 2016 and it is not only a Full Moon Night but a night of the SUPERMOON when the moon is 14% brighter than other nights as the Moon is significantly closer to the Earth.

Is it a mere coincidence then that Legends written thousands of years ago claim it is the Night that Gods descend to Earth at Kashi this night to celebrate “DEV DIWALI” ? ( watch out for more on this Unique Festival celebrated annually in Varanasi)

DEV in Hindi incidentally means God.

night-boat-on-the-ganges
Shimmering on the Ganges

Blessed by the Full Moon, the “Jal Pari” gently floats on the cool waters and simply Goes with the Flow as the Gods celebrate Diwali in Kashi.

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RED GINGER

I had lined up a series of blogs based on my recent trip to Varanasi ( alias Benaras & Kashi) and I  hope you have read them which commenced with BLISS in KASHI.

However am breaking the continuity ( in a way) as a series of events elapsed and I find myself posting this blog based on a wonderful plant I saw in Pune many months ago.

This is the Red Ginger, Jungle King or Ostrich Plume ( English) plant , Alpinia purpurata (Scientific name) the origins of which lie in the Malay peninsula in South East Asia.

the-plant
The Ginger Plant

Kashi is a wonderful ancient city and the River Banks or Ghats are splashed in the auspicious colours of Haldi ( Yellow)  and Kumkum (Vermillion).( watch out for the blogs still to follow)

Turmeric ( English) or Haldi (Hindi) is now recognized worldwide as a wonder or miracle Spice and imparts the colour yellow to Indian curries and cuisines besides occupying a prominent place during Hindu Religious ceremonies.

the-bud
Budding

Red Ginger and Turmeric both belong to the Ginger family  Zingiberacea and thus the wonderful and elaborate Red Inflorescence you see below are similar in both Plants.

The attractive Red bracts making the bouquet are in fact faux flowers .The real flower  has wilted and is seen as a clump of brown weed on the top in the picture below.

ginger-flower
Red Bouquet

The connection that ties the National Flower of Samoa , the wonderful antiseptic and healing properties of Turmeric and Varanasi was a documentary on the importance of Haldi I saw last night in which I briefly spotted turmeric flowers which ignited a memory cell of having seen similar flowers.

On checking out pictures of an earlier trip to Pune  I saw the pictures of Turmeric like flowers of the Red Ginger plant  which I am now sharing above through this post.

While most in India have perhaps consumed or applied the miraculous Turmeric in one form or the other , very few would recognize the cone like Enchanting flowers of the family.

 

 

GREENS AT KASHI

This Exquisite Temple carved in Stone Rises beautifully from the banks of the River Ganges at Munshi Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.

What makes the temple  Enchanting is the fact it is overrun by a singular and hitherto unknown species of Flora or what I call “Greens”.

( a photograph in an earlier blog titled BLISS IN KASHI is of this very temple)

green-temple
Green Temple

The foreground of the “Green Temple” doubles up as a terrace overlooking numerous boats that traverse the Holy River Ganges at the Ancient city of Kashi ( now called Varanasi or Benaras).

It seems the fruits or seeds of the unknown greens make a yummy breakfast for this young Rhesus Macaque.( scientific name being Macaca mulatta )

green-food
Green Food for the Macaques

Have a closer look as to how this Green Plant has made a home in a Temple guarded by Lions.( have a look at the picture on top to see the Lions).

The Sun bathing Plant seems well entrenched and is seemingly stretching its branches in all directions even as it casts a shadow on the temple walls.

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Flora on a Temple Ledge

The featured image showcases This Hardy Green Plant which has flourished on a stony surface.

Do have a sharp look at the Featured picture as you can see this unknown plant blooming as it looks over the  vast Ganges River .

Kashi is truly Enchanting as Nature breathes through every crevice of this Holy & Ancient city. 

BIRDS VIEW OF KASHI

The Brijrama  Palace is one of the finest buildings along the banks of the Holy River Ganges at Kashi ( Benaras or Varanasi).

The picture above and those that follow were taken at daybreak from the Terrace of this Ancient Palace which as you can see gives a wonderful overview of the City and the River Ganges.

Previous blogs titled  BLISS IN KASHI, DAYBREAK IN KASHI & INVOLUNTARY DIP IN KASHI would help you connect the dots.

bird-view
Bird’s View of The Ganges at Kashi

A wonderful capture as the Rock Pigeon tilts his head while perched on his bath tub as if viewing the hustle bustle of people on the River banks below through the Ancient ramparts of the Brijrama Palace.

pigeon-view
Pigeon’s Peephole

The All Marble Bath Tub is filled with the Holy waters of The River Ganges and covered with auspicious Marigold petals.

The Royal  Rock Pigeon (English), Kabootar ( Hindi) ,Columba livia ( scientific name)   seems to be in a State of Bliss, what say you?

Iron chains keep Curious Visitors Off the Edge and provide the Pigeons some privacy as well.

pigeon-bath
Royal Bath Tub

What an Enchanting Morning to sip a Cup of Hot Tea after a cold dip in the River and watch the Pigeons bathing in absolute luxury  along with the Rising Sun.

INVOLUNTARY DIP AT KASHI

BLISS IN KASHI & DAYBREAK IN KASHI ( two previous blogs you need to check out to get a sense of continuity)  gave you a peep into the fascinating city of Varanasi,Uttar Pradesh,India.

As can be expected Sunrise follows Daybreak at Kashi, however these pictures were taken at another location ,the Assi Ghat or the northern extremity of numerous ghats that mark Varanasi.

Sunrise is considered extremely auspicious and many  line up the banks of the revered river The Ganges and offer salutations to the Ganges and the Rising Sun.

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Boat, Bird & Sunrise

It is only at the Assi Ghats that The ” Ganga Aarti”  ( morning prayers to the ganges) is held  daily in the morning following by a live music performance.

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early birds

It was really early at 0430 hours on this winter morning  when I forced myself out of bed to take a boat ride so as to reach the venue by 0530 when the Ganga Aarti  at Assi Ghat commences.

In the process of attempting to reach in time  I had to change boats in the midst of the river.

Well it was my undoing or my blessing ( depends on how you see it) that I landed between the boats into the River along with my camera, which was strung on my shoulder, while I was attempting to switch boats mid river .( remember the proverb?)

sunrise
The Midas Touch

A dip into the Ganges is considered Holy and supposed to wipe out all the Sins of the Past. The morning hours are considered especially auspicious  and are thus called ” Brahma Mahurat” ( the time of the Supreme Creator) .

Must have been the result of  good  “Karma”as you see these Enchanting Pictures of the Sunrise taken after my involuntary dip ( or plunge) , verifying that both the camera and cameraman are intact.

DAYBREAK AT KASHI

Mythology states that Kashi ( alias Benaras or Varanasi) is the Pivot or Crux of the Universe.Believe it or not it sure is a beehive of activity at daybreak.

A bustling city located on the banks of the revered and Holy river The Ganges in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, India is abuzz with activity even at 5 a.m. (0500 hours) on a nippy and foggy winter morning in November.

The night is yet to shed its cloak and the lights are still shimmering yet the Boats are full as people traverse the Holy River.

A view from the ramparts of the beautiful and ancient Brijrama Hotel located on the River banks at the Darbhanga Ghat in Varanasi .

fuzzy-morning
Fuzzy Morning

The Clouds are the first to hint at daybreak as they  transform  into gentle  shades of Orange.

The number of boats on the river during the wee hours indicate that it is a busy time on the River Ganges though the sun is yet to rise.

Can you spot the solitary light in the distant Horizon in the picture below ??

 

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Hints of Day Break

It is Daybreak at Kashi and time for a Hot Cup of Tea as well.

I have never seen any city so busy in the early hours, it is faith that draws millions to Varanasi to take a Holy Dip in the River Ganges.

Do observe all the pictures were taken from the balcony of the historical Brijrama Palace  and thus I had a lovely Royal overview of the River bank or “Ghats”( stepped river bank)  as they are called in India.

through-the-ramparts
Breaking the Chains of the Night

The first blog on this series on Kashi was titled BLISS IN KASHI, reading the post will help you connect the threads as we explore the Enchanting Wonder of this religious city.

 

BLISS IN KASHI

Varanasi, Benaras, Kashi or Anand Van are names of the Oldest Living City of the World in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India.

A city on the banks of the Holy Ganges where millions following the Hindu faith apire to have their last rites performed in the belief they will attain “Moksha”.

pigeon-and-ganges
Taking Off from Kashi

The Holy Cow eyes the Green Vegetables of a street vendor near the auspicious Dashwamedh Ghat where a spectacular  daily prayer, the Ganga Aarti . is offered to the Ganges who is worshipped as a Goddess.

cow-and-vegetables
Eyeing the Greens

The Juvenile Simian has lofty aspirations as it munches away  while Riding a Lion on the Spires of an Ancient temple located at the Munshi Ghat on the banks of the Holy  river Ganga.

riding-the-lion
High Aspirations

Varanasi is an Enchanting city and I will share with you my tryst with nature in a series of posts that will follow.