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Author: A Z Ranjeet
Photographer: Thomas L Kelly/J L Nou / Sajeev Seth et al
Publisher: Roli Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8174360514
Kashi, the luminous one, is the other name of Banaras. In this city of light, each dawn is a miracle. The sky lights up slowly, silently. As the first rays are shattered into gold on the waves of the quietly flowing river, the throng along its banks greets the universe and its creator. Waist deep in water, hundreds of Hindus face the rising sun and, as the dark river begins to glimmer, they cup the now golden water in their hands, raise it to the sun and then pour it back into the river, an offering to the gods, murmuring under their breath the great Gayatri Mantra.
In a very real sense modern Banaras is more than a city-it is a museum palpitating with life. Time past-and it is a long past-is contained in time present, and one can trace in its gods and goddesses, in its temples, sacred ponds and wells, in its temples, sacred ponds and wells, in its ghats and festivals, in its narrow lanes and crowds, in its pilgrims, ascetics, priests and philosophers, the very evolution of Indian civilization.
One has to scratch the surface of Banaras for commonplace sights and events to yield a wealth of meaning. The priest on the ghat, the wandering mendicant, the pilgrim at his devotions, the funeral processionists weaving through narrow lanes-everyday humdrum images can reveal themselves as fascinating composites of history and myth-making, of the mundane and the transcendental, of the real world and the imagined. Let us look around, then, and see what lies behind some of the most familiar sights in Banaras.