Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
People from different parts of India and around the world visit Varanasi for different reasons. Although Varanasi is popularly called the city of Shiva and her Holy Mother-Consort Annapurna, it is at once the city of temples, the city of 'ghats', the city of music, and the center for moksha or nirvana (salvation). For every visitor, Varanasi has a different experience to offer. But of all and the many flavors, ranging from the intellectual to the cultural; from the ecological to the deep spiritual, finally the gentle waters of the Ganges, perhaps, presents the largest, the deepest and the most unfathomable indispensable touch!
The urban scape of Varanasi begins with the boat ride on Ganga at sunrise, treading the high banks of the ancient "Ghats"; watching the array of shrines; following beyond them the meandering narrow serpentine alleys of the city; silhouetting the skyline of myriad temple spires, and the many many palaces at water's edge, some of which being the ashrams (hermitages) or some as the age-old ‘old age homes’ where incoming souls under the best of ‘alms and generosity’ are seeking an ‘end-of-life-care’ of the highest kind; and finally, in and through the pavilions intervening with courts, where the chanting of mantras and the fragrance of incense, through the palm and cane parasols, finally surges in the form of the oldest devotional hymns of the world and all of that culminate to a mystifying experience that eternally flows through the one and only one – The Bhagirathi: she, in the words of Adi Shankaracharya – is ‘Devi Sureswari Bhagawati Gange’ – The Holy Sacred, the Supreme Queen of the Celestial world, the Supreme Mother of all, the Ganga!
History, science and various findings of geo-archaeology can only partially tell when Ganga had actually descended (avatarana) southbound and what made her rotate northbound to make this place – an impeccable spiritual center for ‘Saraswat sadhana’ [Crystalline, solar, white swan like spirituality].
Through a mega-exploratory venture, one of the main intentions now is to re-capture her true essence in and through all her expressions – tracing her pure origins in the summits of upstream Himalayan ecology; and to her downstream expansions in the Bay, where Varanasi presents a spot, the very epicenter of an unparalleled midstream!