(All the photos on this page by Mr. Biplab Goswami)
(Where was he standing while clicking them all?)
What are streets? There may be many definitions, but the one that is appropriate here must include something about the buildings on both the sides, the origin and the destination of the street. If we take Sonarpura Crossing as the origin of the streets in the images below (my friend Biplab did just that), there are three streets in four images that originate from the circle of the crossing. The fourth one (as it’s called Sonarpura chaumuhani, i.e. where four paths meet) is a broad gali that comes from Kedar Ghat, touching Gopal Bhaiya’s shop on its Hararbagh side, the same side where once used to be the world famous Pyaarelal’s Shop (at least for the Sonarpurias) that used to specialize in various varieties of pakoras (Ah, the salivary flood in my mouth!).
Sonarpura Crossing is not what it appears in one of its calmer periods, as has been captured in these images. It’s extremely difficult around the crossing to navigate an auto or a car through the floating icebergs of men and bicycles etc. in the evenings. Imagine the passage of a procession through the same streets. I have witnessed the Naga Babas, Nakkataiya, Durga Puja, marriage and funeral processions, in addition to the customary political ones, passing through the same streets.
Sonarpura to Godowlia
The street that runs towards Godowlia is the one I have the deepest relation with. For full five years, throughout the school session, I had walked on the same road, crossing Ashok Medicine Centre, Mamu Chacha’s Shop, Ksheer Saagar, Dutta and Sons, Baba Farid School, Kali Bari, Pen Co, Biswas House and Mukherjee Book Depot to reach my school. I had many options to reach the origin at the crossing from where the road originates. I could take Harishchandra Ghat Road up to Sahara Building and then turn right to walk towards the crossing, or I could enter the gali just against mine and turn left at its end, or take the gali next to it and do the same after passing Puja Sweets.
This street gives rise to several galis to its left and right. On the right side, the first gali has a tomb of a Muslim saint. There’s open stone paved space in front of the building of the tomb. At the far end of the rectangular open space three galis emerge. The cul-de-sac is the first gali to the right. The one to the left leads to the temple door of Kali Bari, after passing a couple of houses that belong to the weavers and dyers community. The gali that goes straight opens into another coming from towards Gopal Bhaiya’s shop. On turning left one reaches Bavan Villa: a grand house that is rented to marriage ceremonies nowadays. The next gali to the right on is the one that begins at the corner of the building of Pen Co. and the one after C. M. Anglo Bengali Primary School is the next. On the left had side of this road are two galis that lead to Durga Charan School and one cul-de-sac that terminates at the place where my school obstructs its continuation. Just after Bengali Tola Inter College, a gali leads to Tilbhandeshwar Shiv Temple.
Sonarpura to Shivala
The street that runs towards Shivala Crossing has a couple of broad streets opening on both the sides. The first street is on the left that leads to Harishchandra Ghat and the only electric crematorium in Kasi. There are many old houses on this street, especially the huge red house, the second house to the right from where the road begins and the old houses a little farther. The second street to the left bifurcates at around one hundred metres. To its right it goes towards the gali at the back of Shivala Post Office and to its left it goes towards Harishchandra Ghat Street, crossing Oudhgarbi muhalla. Shivala Crossing is where four streets meet (okay, one broad gali and three proper ones).
Sonarpura to Shivala
Look at the houses on both sides of the street. They are typical Banarsi houses built with the material and design used nearly a century ago. Many of them are even older. Imagine NY type skyscarpers lining the Sonarpura to Shivala Street!
Sonarpura to Bhelupura
One look at this street is sufficient to make it clear that this is the narrowest one out of the three, and the worst kept one too. It’s a very important artery that connects Sonarpura with Bhelupura, and has been in a very bad shape for nearly a decade now.
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