I kept my promise that I had made to myself before leaving for Varanasi. I saw at least four kunds and revised the location of one more. The post begins with the one kund that I found the most challenging to reach: Kapalmochan. I had decided to go there because the famous Laat Bhairav is just by the kund. Laat Bhairav is from where the much analysed and written about communal riots of 1809 had begun. I have read Gyanendra Pandey’s beautifully written book with a large section on it, and then the Viswalingams’ work on it, along with what some British writers had mentioned about it in their books.
My friend Rishi had maintained from the first mention of the place that he’d not even look towards that direction. He is a man of very firm resolution. So he took me there. Had there been no Rishi, I’d never have reached there. It took me one visit to Kazzakpura, densely populated with Muslims, to overcome to a limited degree my fear of entering such areas alone. It acted like inoculation.
It was that visit that had given me the exposure and thus courage required for my next trip and I went searching for Omkareshwar to Macchodari Talao and from there to Koyla Bazar and Peeli Kothi areas both Muslim localities. I even asked few recognizably Muslim men for the directions to the Temple, and was rightly led by their instructions. Whenever I look at Macchodari, I ask myself anachronistically: “Why did James Prinsep not get inspired by the way the Ranas of Udaipur maintained their lakes?” Then, he’d have let Mandakini and Matsyodari Lakes remain in their original form, for the posterity to look at and wonder. Had the process begun then, Banaras would have been a city of kunds and ponds too, along with their parallel waterline of the divine Ganga Maiya.
The one Kund I saw in Banaras that is better maintained than any other, is Kapildhara at Kandwa at the famous Panchkroshi Marg. I have read that the kund is famous because of the Kardameshwar Temple on it. I have heard that it was reconstructed by Queen Bhawani of Bengal, the same queen who had the Durga Temple and pond constructed, also many ghats. Wikipedia records that Rani Bhawani was the Queen of Natore and had lived between 1716 and 1795. It also mentions Queen Ahilyabai Holker, her contemporary (1725 to 1795). Both the queens were philanthropists and are known in Banaras because they had many temples, ponds, ghats etc. constructed in the holy city. In a way, it’s because of these two queens and many other Kings and Queens that we look at the present form of the city.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.