The Changed Face of Varanasi


Over two decades ago there used to be a very huge slope of red bricks where the stone steps and the base of the red building stand in the picture above. How do I remember it? I had once climbed up the slope and had then found it impossible to slide or climb it down. Why? Plain old acrophobia. No, it was and is not vertigo. I don’t feel any physiological dizziness etc. I simply feel very very uneasy at heights and my instinct for self-preservation goes overtime in yelling at me. How did I come down then? Don’t remember.


So, I came down the slope. Ergo, there was one in the first place! Now, that slope gave way to the newer structures above. They are not bad. They are simply new and different from the older one. What’s more, the Hanuman Temple above the ghat, the temple where my grandmother used to take me for darshans and kirtans, is also not there anymore. They are constructing a concrete temple in place of the old stone one.


My urballaghophobia is not just skin deep. It has some links with my internal self and the continuously running strain of thanatophobia ever present there. Any bulwark against change doubles as the same against the ravages of time, and finally, death. Change in the old order, shape, state or feel of the things is indicative of the end of life. In death we unite as it is the end of all living things. From death to change: the shift is not metaphorical but symbolic in my case. The fear of change, then, is natural in all sentient mortals (and I think I’m both!).


So, the new, and at present ugly, temple at a changed ghat was a shocking and sad sight the first time. In all the following visits, it remained sad only. Why change something so closely associated to my life, and that of many others? But, do those others have time to respond to or even think about the change?

Math near Lali Ghat

The huge math between Lali Ghat and Vijaynagram Ghat is a real eyesore. In its present form it’s not more than a decade old.



Darbhanga Ghat Lift


Rani Ghat building

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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