One of the most startling features of Varanasi is Manikarnika ghat - a cremation ground along the banks of Ganga, right in the heart of the old city. Death, considered to be almost a tabooed subject in most cultures across the world, has been embraced here like nowhere else.
Looking at the burning bodies here, brings you so close to seeing death into its face that it can be intimidating at first. But simultaneously, it also makes you much more aware of life itself. Perhaps knowing that there is an end, which is not “the end”, is what gives us courage to make this life much more exciting, and death more surmountable.
Despite frequent visits, it still continues to amaze me every single time. Following is a small scribble inspired by this surreal place...
उस पार - The Other Side
धुआँ लौ या अंगार जो हुआ,
हवा को दोस्त बना मदमस्त तू चला |
कुछ छूट गया जलते हुए पीछे, शायद उम्र भी |
एक वो है, आग से डरा रुका है, अभी भी ||
Having become smoke, flare, or amber
You befriended wind and flew with it
Something got left behind, maybe even life
And then there’s one who never even dared to move, scared of testing the fire
Painting by Ravi Chaurasiya, Student at Faculty of Fine Arts, BHU Varanasi