It was last year end of February, when I & my family landed on the holy place of Varanasi. We planned this trip during this time due to climate being pleasant (neither too hot nor cold). Not really aware of Kumbha mela (which occurs every 12 years) in Allahabad and booked the tickets well in advance to visit the holy place. Varanasi or Banaras or Kashi city situated on the Bank of river Ganga. It is believed that one has to do immense karma in his life time to visit this holy place and I should say I am lucky and had the privilege of visiting this place in my early 30’s.
It took nearly 45 minutes from the airport to the holy city. I’ve had heard lot about the city and its cleanliness (with humor) and was excited to see the city and I think I was correlating in my mind as we advanced into the city. On our way to the room (which was booked by our purohit), there were small and narrow streets with bad roads and stones pitching out giving a narrow way to walk across these streets. Garbage dumping is seen all across these streets and there isn’t any garbage dumping place in common. All the residents dump their garbage either right across the streets or at the neighbours bay. Although, Kashi being a historical place which is being visited by the lakhs of people or tourists across the world over hundreds and thousands of years, I see it is one of the completely neglected city. If we look at the demographics of the people visiting this place will be of senior citizen’s age. Nearly above 55 or 60 years, that is when people visit such holy places. With these narrow roads, and number of steps on the ghats one has to really imagine how the age old people will visit the place. I see there is no development of any kind in the city and city is completely deserted by the local MLAs or MPs. I wonder how age-old people managed to visit here and live here in olden times.
After Kashi Vishwanath Darshan, we initiated the conversation with our purohit, why doesn’t the government do anything to improve the roads or do any kind of development as this is 365 days tourist visiting holy places. My purohit politely said “We’ve been staying here since 5 generations and since then we’ve seen the city this way. Irrespective of any government, nobody is interested in developing the city but all have vested interests for their power” and everybody is happy due to lot of tourist attraction. Then I said, jokingly “May be you should try your luck to stand for the elections next time, you’ve been helping people whoever visits the place and seek your shelter for all the religious karya’s”. He just smiled at us and started giving us the directions of our next visit which had planned for Kumba Mela indicating for us “May be life goes on…”.
All eyes on the 2014 lok sabha elections especially when the battle is from Varanasi. When BJP for last 5 years didn’t do any development here, will Narendra Modi be able to do anything if he wins this seat here or will Arvind Kejriwal do something with his magic wand or somebody else? As we switch to any news channels reminds of the movie “Peepli Live”, I hope media doesn’t desert Varanasi soon after the show / elections. Whoever wins the seat or elections, since the eyeballs are on this holy place, will I see Varansi as a clean and developed city when I visit next time?