Monday, April 20, 2015

Varanasi a city they fell in love with

Socio- ecological course
Foundation studies
Srishti institute of art design and technology
Bangalore
Faculty : Narendra Raghunath, Urvashi Jalali
            
After 5 days of our nine day tour to Varanasi with Srishti school of art design and technology foundation students for their social ecology course at Varanasi, we let the students to pursue their identified areas of subject in and around the ghats and gullies of Ganga. 
 During the trip every day morning we set the agenda with students and at the night we discussed the engagements, findings and analysis. During the first day everyone in the group felt the desperate need to change the city. Roads are crowded, drainages are broken, traffic is near bursting , no one followed any rules, ganga is polluted, Ghats and gallis are dirty, they felt nothing works in that city. As the days progressed and as they zero down upon their individual subject of common men and mundane subjects they concluded Varasi doesn’t have any problem, it the outsider’s perception have the problem. The city survive on temple pilgrimage and they come for that old charm of the city, the near broken down civic sense of living. As the accessibility and affluence of rest of the country grown, the population influx to this city also have grown many fold during the last few years. Interestingly the city tourism survives on people from Andhra and Karnataka than rest of the nation. Of course, there still exist those Bangla and Marathi pockets in and around those Ghats telling the tale of a foregone era. Your could see, lane after lane with those old colonial architectures and an evidently Bangali stamp on it, displaying Telugu boards of shops and services. You will get Dosa and fried idli everywhere and as the queues of south Indians gets longer and longer in front of all temples, the alienation and frustration of the locals are also growing day by day with it. The traders may be happy, so are the boatmen, but other city dwellers are feeling their god, their temple and their city slowly but steadily are being taken over by the outsiders.
Apart from Gyanvapi mosque lane to temple, there are these two other lanes – Kachoudi galli and dalmandi lane that intersect and lead to the temple. One lane is inhabited by Hindus and the other one is by Muslims. Strangely on the Hindu lane rarely you will find a Muslim but on Muslim lane you will certainly find many Hindus and sadly under the belly there is an evidently shown discontent exist among these two communities. A small flare up is all that needed for a large conflict!.
These long serpentine gallies where thousands and thousands of people are living in the event of a tragedy, no security force or no vehicle can ever reach or save anyone from there . Also with God or temple at every three meters, no one will ever be able to do anything either to change the situation. This part of the city, the core of Varanasi will remain like this for ever as the heritage of thousands of years remain laid out in those gallies every inch and every millimeter. Only change will be the ever-increasing population and tourists in those gullies, that already are on a verge of collapse.

After nine days, students had various experiences, explorations and explanations for a city they slowly but steadily fell in love with.   They all wanted to go back and do some design contribution there.  Their stories are listed along the blog 
Urvashi Jalali with students
Buzzling ghats
Muharram procession
Rampant commercialisation of ghat visual culture
A typical Galli crowd
The temple queue
Dominant presence of policemen
BHU Lanka gate traffic block due to vip movement
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