India is a diverse nation comprising of a multi layered social structure with multiple religions and ideologies. But they seem to converge in The river Ganges. From Haridwar to Kolkata, this river is worshiped by one and all. They call it their mother, for various reasons inherent in the socio-economic ideology of the nation. This relation is not just rhetorical or hyperbolic but exists in reality in every sphere. Ganga, which flows through thousands of kilometers prepares a land very distinct from the rest of the world. More than 60% of the Indian population depends on the river for agriculture, tourism and other related occupations. There is an ancient myth about the origin of Ganga on Earth. King Bhagirath wanted to rest the soul of his ancestors in heaven who were burnt to ashes from the fierce glance of a sage. But only the water of the pious Ganga had the ability to grant the heavenly abode to the souls of Bhargirath’s ancestors. He went to Brahma and requested him to permit the river of heaven, ie. Ganga to flow upon Earth. Having won the descent of Brahma, Bhagiratha then persuaded Shiva to catch the Ganges in his hair as she fell, so that the earth would not be shattered by her torrential force. Today, the Himalayan mountains from where the Ganga originates on earth are perceived as the tangled ascetic locks of Shiva. It is said that Ganga followed Bhagiratha on earth and flowed up to Ganga-Sagara, hence providing salvation to souls of the ancestors of Bhagiratha. This myth posits Ganga to be the triple-pathed river. It flows from heaven to earth and then descends up to the netherworld.
MY TRIP (From Train-To Hotel- To Ganga) -
I boarded a train from New Delhi Railway station that took around 13 hours to reach Varanasi Junction. From there I took an Auto- Rickshaw (Rs.100) for my pre-booked hotel, Hotel Sunshine, situated near the Shivala ghat. Beside being a cheap and affordable hotel for an freelance journalist like me, this hotel is also advantageous as it is situated near the ghat which can give one a broad range of time to stay and click the snaps. It cost me around Rs.300 for a one day in that hotel which provided me a single-bed room with an attached bathroom. For reaching the ghat from one's respective hotel (if near the ghat), a hand-pulled rickshaw could be boarded. But I will advise all my young photographers and Bag-packers to walk as much as the could because beside saving money, this increases one's chance to get the magical clicks!
MY EXPERIENCES AND IDEAS -
I visited Varanasi, a month ago, as a part of my research. The place is majestic and incredible indeed. But once you are in Varanasi, do not forget to roam around the ghats along the river Ganga. The river here is not just great in myths and belief but also gives ample of shots to your camera to capture in order to get best from your trip, especially if you are a photographer. For getting the best shots one must be careful about the light and life on the ghats. In my opinion, one should board a room in nearby hotel or Dharamshalas (most of them are cheap enough to save the weight in your wallet) near the ghats in order to understand the most of the place near the river. And believe, it also helps one to reach the ghats on time for the early morning shots (at its best from 5:45 AM- 7:30 AM in Summers). A room nearby will also make you determined enough to stay on the ghats to shoot the late evening shots with bluish hues at around 7:30 PM in Summers. Remember one thing, try to segregate the photography of the river from the photography of the ghats, as both the subjects are different and one needs a different frame of mind to capture either of them. While your are visiting the ghats try to focus on any one at a time. Because what I understood from my experiences is that, Ganga is with simplicity whereas ghats are with Complexities. Have patience and capture each and every component of the river, from boats to bathers, all are waiting for your clicks.
NOTE- DON'T THINK EVERYBODY IN THE PLACE TO BE A CHEAT. THIS WILL HINDER YOUR ASPIRATION TO PERCEIVE MOST FROM THE PLACE. JUST WALK AND CLICK! ALL THE BEST!