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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Towards 'The' Kumbh!

One of our friends shared this wonderful and accurate journal of traveling on the road towards Kumbh. Of course we had to share it here...Thanks a lot Gautam Trivedi for this word-by-word account!

* (all images for this post have been sourced online)

1:11 PM: We have now hit the NHAI highway. Kishan informs us that we are passing through Badhohi district, famous for Benarasi silk.
1:20 PM: We are passing through the town of Gopiganj. I am always looking out for interesting things and I find that beside the standard SBI branch this town has an IndusInd and an HDFC branch. That tells me that there is enough prosperity for these 2 private sector banks to open branches.

The other thing I notice is that I see only 2 brands of cement being sold: Jaypee and Prism Cement. Also we passed by several fruit sellers selling green grapes and oranges. Kishan confirms that these are local produce.

2PM: We are at the town of Bhandia, 43 kms from Allahabad. Nilima has motioned Kishan to stop at a samosa shop. I quickly run in and buy 4 at an astronomical cost of INR 16. Only 4 Rs a samosa? Looks like inflation hasn't hit this town. The samosas are yummy and similar to the one I ate last year in Lucknow: only aloo (no peas) and lots of ginger with the masala. I just realised that this was my 3rd visit to UP in the past 12 months.

3PM: We reach Allahabad and rendezvous with Ram Yagya Dwivedi. He is the brother-in-law of Rajiv (Pappu) Dubey, my father-in-law's family friend. We follow his SUV to the area from where VIP tours are conducted to the 'Triveni Sangam'. This is the point where the Ganga, Yamun and the mythological river Saraswati (that apparently runs underground) meet. Even though the Kumbh Mela runs through March 10 it had wound down. So in one way we should have come earlier to witness the single largest congregation of humanity. But as I would soon realise that the holy dip today was faster and less congested.

We got on to a motorboat and reached that point to take the 3 holy dips that cleanse us of our sins. The water waist high and cold. Nilima and I dipped thrice and got back on the motorboat. Was it an enlightening experience? I can't say, but somehow I felt good that I had done it.

4:30PM: Had a late lunch at El Cristo restaurant and left for the return journey to Benaras.

08:08PM: Reached Benaras and went to Basant Bihar (a small hole in the wall) to have lassi. The shopkeeper asked me if I wanted dahi ki lassi or malai ki lassi. I balked at the thought of having a malai ki lassi and instead chose the relatively safer dahi ki lassi. But it came with a layer of malai. However, I wasn't impressed ..... I have had better lassis.

08:30PM: Checked into the Taj Gateway. Nilima and I were too tired so we ordered room service. The Dum Aloo Benaras style was fantastic. It was in tomato gravy with fennel and onion seeds. I watched the Dow hit a record all time high while having dinner in the room. We have to wake up early at 01:45AM and to attend the mangla arti at Kashi Vishwanath temple.

(*shared by Gautam Trivedi)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta