Kashi has ever been considered as a center of the Hindu world, a circle through which the eternal & infinite light of Shiva passes, a city where death itself is celebrated. To celebrate death finds no parallel in any part of the world, a city where people don’t fear death, all the more people from all over India come here to die. Kashi is considered to be a different cosmos, a different cosmos where knowledge, like Shiva’s light is eternal and infinite.
Knowledge have been one of the determinants of what Kashi is today; from early thinkers like Kabir, & Tulasidas, to contemporaries like Munshi Premchand & Bhartendu Harishchandra, to musicians like Ravishankar and Bismillah Khan, and many more in many other fields. What all of them had in common, is their association with the Ghats. Be it be siting along the ghats and writing or floating in a boat on the ganga to perform, Ghats were part of the light that still prevails in Kashi.
Ghats, a collective effort of different individuals, at different time, from different backgrounds, resulting in a unified urban place, abutting the most sacred and largest open space in Kashi, the Ganga, is the most powerful imagery that Kashi projects. It is not just because of its physical appearance that one can see in photos, but primarily due to the metaphysical beauty that one experiences by being there.
Sitting on the Ghats, viewing the mystic ganga flowing slowly, one gets captivated by it. The game of ‘Gulli Danda’ goes on with lot of zest, kites keep flown by kids, tourist walk past with the mysterious and captivated look on their faces, indecisive on whether to look at the ghats or at the ganga, dogs and cows walk past as if the entire area belong to them and hindus take the holy dip with firm belief in their hearts that all their sins are washed off, which could be seen in the shine in their eyes when they come out; with all this and many more parallel activities going on, the ganga flows with the same calmness as she would have when Bhagirath brought her to earth, and the ghats standing as if in her respect, an atmosphere is created that let anyone loose to contemplate, to sit along the ghats for hours doing nothing and still be happy, and this is the atmosphere that triggers the urge to knowledge. An urge that made Buddha to choose this place to give his first sermon, an urge that made Tulasidas write Ramcharitmanas here, any man ready to accept and let go his ego could still feel the special atmosphere, the special feel that makes the ghats so special.
Life goes on as usual in Kashi, as would in any other city, but it stand still on the Ghats, the dimension of time is lost and suddenly what looks like a vibrant urban place becomes the contemplating ground for the entire city, where no sound is noise, where no activity is too big to be accommodated, where every individual finds a direct connect, no wonder its referred to as a gateway to heaven…