Article Appeared in ECS magazine, Kathmandu, Oct 2017
By: Susan M. Griffith-Jones
On the last stretch of the descent into Varanasi, I gaze through the small plane window at a mighty river etching its way across the land. The air is hazy, but the river, a bluish-grey ribbon, gleams every so often when the sun hits her stiller parts. There she is! The mighty Ganga, whose body of water I’ve been following for the past ten years; dripping out from her glacial source at Gaumukh high up in the Indian Himalaya, down to here, Varanasi,a sacred heartland of India.
For pilgrims, this is Kashi, the City of Light, raised above the earthly plains upon the trident of Lord Shiva. And it’s to Varanasi that one must come to die, to attain moksha, or salvation, from earthly suff erings. But, “Do not wander!” I’ve been warned. For at the extremities of the city lying outside the perimeter of the five ancient pilgrim routes that incrementally encircle the holiest shrine of all—the Vishyanatha temple—the blessing of moksha does not apply!