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Weblog 3_Border2Border_K To K (4)

In our third web log of the Border2Border drive with the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10, we head from the city of Kanpur to Varanasi and on to Kolkata

Story: Aninda Sardar
Photography: Aditya Dhiwar

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The distance between Kanpur and Varanasi isn’t particularly great at just shy of 350 km and the day therefore started with a small photo shoot in the city of Kanpur before we decided to head out to one of the holiest cities in India in our more than capable Maruti Suzuki Alto K10. Now one must understand that any journey to Varanasi, irrespective of your intent, becomes something of a pilgrimage. With nearly 33 crore temples, some of them of great significance to the vast majority of Hindus from around the World, hundreds of thousands of devotees throng to Varanasi from every corner of the planet. It’s also a pilgrimage for the history buff, like me, for Varanasi, or Benares, or Kashi, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the World and keeps pace with Jerusalem, Damascus, Peking, Athens and Rome. In fact, Varanasi pre-dates both Athens and Rome. Naturally, with such a vast legacy to boast, Varanasi is also a delight for those who seek pleasure in art and architecture.

Weblog 3_Border2Border_K To K (2) The road that spans from Kanpur to Varanasi is mostly unremarkable, except for the Allahabad By-pass of course. The 80 odd kilometres of the Allahabad By-Pass Expressway is a fantastic stretch of concrete, divided into four lanes and lined with armco barriers. It’s an absolute pleasure to drive on this stretch and the experience is not incomparable to that of the Yamuna Expressway. This road helps shorten the journey to Varanasi considerably, for the old road (Grand Trunk Road or G T Road) ran straight through the heart of Allahabad (ancient Prayag), where the waters of the Yamuna finally converge with those of the Ganga.

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We arrive in Varanasi before sunset and decide to spend the night as close to the Ganga as possible. Our hotel, booked on the internet, turns out to be on the historic Assi Ghat. The thing about Varanasi is that the closer you get towards the Ganga, the narrower the roads seem to get until you reach a point where you start thinking that perhaps driving on isn’t such a great idea. Fortunately for us, the Alto K10’s compact dimensions meant that none of this was really an issue for us. Instead we drove straight to the gates of the hotel.

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Unfortunately however, despite its compactness the car could not be driven to the ghat itself and had to remain parked at the hotel while the three of us headed down to the Assi Ghat on foot with the intent of witnessing the spectacle that is the Ganga Aarti. The aarti is a millennia old ritual that has been practised by generation after generation of purohits (priests) and essentially pays tribute to the bounty of the mighty Ganga that is the lifeline of India’s Northern Plains.

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After a mesmerising evening on the banks of the river, we headed back to the hotel only to enjoy some lovely vegetarian cuisine on the rooftop restaurant of our hotel as gazed upon the shiny rippling ribbon that the Ganga becomes by darkness.

More on page 2

 

About the author: Aninda Sardar

 

Assistant Editor at Car India. Believes in the power of simplicity and in the simplicity of power (when it comes to engines of course).

Follow me on Twitter - @anindasardar

 

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