Movement in Kasi

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The two images above are of two galis that meet perpendicularly around Lali Ghat, just before the famous Kedareshwar Temple by Gangaji in Kasi. They are full of pedestrians and vehicles, mostly two-wheelers for a duration of two or more hours in mornings and evenings. Galis, ghats, streets, there are many throughfares in Kasi, the old city, that is. The new city has no ghats and, comparably speaking, no galis either. It has only its streets, some of them the broadest in the whole city. The new city can afford to have broad streets, it came into existence after the birth of the idea of geometrically patterned and neatly designed broad streets in cities. The old city is something else. The very lay out and population settlement density of the zone makes any idea of orderly and well designed  broad streets impossible.

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The images above are of some busy streets of the old city from Godowlia to Bulanala. They are characterized by comparatively narrow streets with shops on both the sides. The images were taken between eight and nine in the morning. There’s not much traffic on the roads. The time these shops start opening is around ten. After ten, it’s a flood.

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People use streets and galis to go from one place to another. There’s no uniqueness in that. The same is done in many other cities. The unique aspect of movement in Kasi is the presence of an unbroken series of around eighty stone ghats starting from the ghat on the left in the images above to the one on the right: Assi to Raj Ghat. People of Kasi use these ghats for various purposes, movement being one of them.

Barring a few festive occasions, these ghats always provide a definite escape from crowds, and from traffic congestion: present ubiquitously on streets and in galis. There’s one condition though, persons desirous of using these ghats as their daily to school or work must either walk or use a bicycle. The stone steps do not allow any other mode of transportation. For people living and working around ghats it’s not a big problem. They have their schools, shops or places where they work at a walking distance. Now, the walking distance for a Banarsi is easily around two kilometres. It may be more in some cases.

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