There’s change written over the windows of the building above. That is, for those who have not seen the building in the past. The ancient walls of stone and their colour is at odds with the glasses on the panes. There’s something disturbing about the glasses being there. Their very presence challenges the harmony of the elements of the building and of the building with its environs. This is one of many old stone buildings on the ghats of Kasi.
This is another building on another ghat of Kasi. Continuity is written all over the image. That is, for those who have not seen the area in the past and even for those who have, it’s very difficult to suspect, that too just by looking at the image above. Change is there. But where? Look at the material of the walls, steps and that of the stone columns and deep daan. Nothing is out of sync, apparently.
The change in the second image is the kind I find tolerable. That’s because it does not challenge the harmony of my city. It merges so well with its environs that it instantly joins it, and soon becomes a part of it. Such kind of changes are the ones to be planned for and aimed at. The part that follows will develop another important point.
There’s nothing special or unique about the set of buildings, or the stone steps, or the trees in the image above. I have seen many such sights in Kasi. The image below presents a similar view with trees, buildings and stone steps to match.
Not only ghats, but also the inner city has many similar structures. On both sides of the road-river below, there are buildings made with similar material, with walls of similar colours: yellow, white, cream etc. The view may not be breath taking. It may not be beautiful. But is simply “is”. It is Kasi.
I think and fear strongly that changing the elements of the images above will alter Kasi for worse. It’s not just a scenario. It’s happening, and very fast too. To take just one instance: look at the building to the right. The steps, trees and the buildings have similarities with the two images above the previous one.
I saw on a blog that an eyesore has suddenly erupted on the scene. The small building at the back on the right hand side has been painted loud and disturbing green and converted into a guest house. To see the present abomination one must visit its recently updated image in the blog: http://findblissonearth.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/holy-varanasi/.
Now, there may be those who love the change. I have nothing against their aesthetic sense. My reasons are personal and emotional. It’s only incidental that I find the change aesthetically intolerable too.
Had the new been constructed or painted paying attention to the old, the harmony wouldn’t have been disturbed and the change wouldn’t have been intolerable