This image has traces of past, distant and near, and imprints of the present time on it. It’s rich in multiphonous echoes, as it is associated to some glorious chapters of India’s past. The temple to the left is “Apu’s Temple”. No, that’s not its name in any of the Mahatmya of the city. Its name derives from the great Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy. Remember that temple behind the little Apu’s head while he watches his father in the first few minutes of Aparajito? Well, that binds his name, and that of the director to the ghat forever.
The top left hand corner shows the Darbhanga House. It bears the name of the one time grand kingdom of Darbhanga. It is also connected to the ruckus after the unfortunate and unaesthetic attempt by a big hotel group of Varanasi to improve and modernize it. Some responsible Kasiphiles brought that to the notice of the High Court. At present, no development (?) activity is going on there. Ironically, now the place has become more famous than it has ever been in the past.
The two halves of the text above were subjected to two different approaches to the times past and things old. Ray, with his artist’s eyes (he was drawn specially to the ghatscape around Munshi Ghat) found the temple and the ghatscape around good enough for him and his film. Those high up in the management of the Clarke’s Hotel Group, with their apathy and negative aesthetic sense, could see only an opportunity to improve by destruction in the name of modification. The Kautilya Society opposed the madness, and had a real hard time facing the heavy weight pummeling. There’s ample material on you tube on the whole event and its aftermath. One only has to search with Vrinda Dar’s (KS fame) name.
There are people in the image-text above, some great already and some waiting for the seal that time will put upon their greatness in the time to come. They are there through association.
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