Colors of Varanasi : Bansphatak Flower Market
If there is one city that truly echoes a mini India minus the attempts to scale the walls of modernity clinging to the roots that go deep in the fertile alluvial Indo-gangetic planes then it is Varanasi aka Benaras aka Kashi.
As good old Samuel Langhorne Clemens said – “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”.
Well who am I to disagree with Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who has spent some good time in Varanasi and is better known as Mark Twain.
This was not my first visit to Varanasi, and I sure hope this was not my last visit to Kashi. Just like my earlier visit to the ancient city (as referred by Gautama Buddha more than 2500 years ago), overwhelmed me with her sights, sounds, smell and the chaos sucked me in.
Soon I was walking the streets of Varanasi like a local and enjoying all the sounds and smells around me. But more than sounds and smells it is the colors of Varanasi that make you stop and explore the little by-lanes of Benaras that hold treasures that are unfolded to you in layer after layer. Just when you think you know Benaras another layer unfolds in front of you and you are sucked in once again.
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I was walking on the Godowlia Road, near the Samudreswar Mahadev Mandir when, some colorful bouquets on a decrepit door smiled at me. Little I knew that this dilapidated door and the dark lane it was trying to hide, had such a colorful treasure that my eyes will see in Eastman color for next hour.
Below the door, doing brisk business were some women selling flowers, oblivious to the fact that twiterati is celebrating them as women entrepreneurs of India. As I passed them the narrow alley radiated a colorful aura that you normally associate with rainbows. The narrow partway led to a clearing that must have been Veranda of a large Bungalow in some earlier era.
Squatting in haphazard lines (only in India can a line be haphazard) in the veranda, packed like Naga Sadhus in a Kumbh Mela were flower sellers and flowers of all kinds. The haggling war cries stumbled on the walls and drummed back in your ears making everything undecipherable.
Then one flower girl looks at me in eyes and says, “Sir you want flowers? Good flowers, especially for temple”.
I was officially welcomed in the Bansphatak flower market of Varanasi, most crowded flower market in Eastern UP.
With hundreds of temples, and countless pilgrims coming to Varanasi every day the Bansphatak Flower Market does brisk business in both retail as well as wholesale. Flower sellers from nearby cities like Gazipur, Jaunpur, Pratapgarh also come here to buy flowers to be sold in local markets.
Like everything else in Banaras the Bansphatak flower market is also total chaos and there is no method in madness, yes everything works with clock like precision. Well to be true to the saying I would say Indian Time precision. The crowds at the market will put peak hour traffic on Delhi Metro to shame and may make Dadar station feels like they have found a worthy comparison. I could not even think of taking my camera out and clicking any pictures such was the jostling for space and constant endeavor to inch your way out or squeeze in the market.
Yet among all the noise the buyers and sellers were communicating and money was changing hands rapidly.
Everywhere there were mounds of flowers and flower buds – Roses, Jasmine, Marigold, hibiscus buds and flowers, louts flowers and even poisonous flowers like Datura and Aak or Calotropis offered to Shiva the beloved god of Varanasi were on sale. As Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of Varanasi you could also buy Bel leaf, and fruits of Datura ( Stramonium ), were also available for sale to be offered to Lord Shiva.
I really wanted to click some pictures of all the action in the Bansphatak Flower market but it was impossible to click pictures at such close range and quick action. Wondering what to do, I saw a narrow stairs going to the nearby roof, so I simply climbed on the roof and clicked most of the pictures in this post from the rooftop watching the action below.
After clicking pictures from the roof, I climbed down to join the others in the group. As we were leaving I was invited by one of the women selling flowers to click their pictures. So this picture of the woman displaying white flower garlands is a result of that.
The Bansphatak flower market is not a touristy place, it is not even a proper market, just a lot of people sitting on floor and doing business., worth about 10 crores per annum in the market. Not bad for a bunch of folks squatting on floor to sell flowers. May be your city has a bigger, more organized flower market just like Gudimalkapur Flower Market in Hyderabad, but how many times you have been to the flower market in your city ? So if you are in Varanasi and are looking for some offbeat Varanasi experience then drop by at the Bansphatak Flower market near the Samudreswar Mahadev Mandir , and you will be welcomed by some true colors, sounds and smells of Benaras, over and above the Ghats. And let me assure you some of the colors and smells of Benaras will stick with you for your rest of the stay in Varanasi.
Opening hours: Morning to evening.
Ticket: Arey Baba it is not a touristy place, so no ticket as they say best experiences in Travel are FREE 🙂
Is Parking Avaialble: No, but a helipad is available on a roof nearby from where I clicked pictures. #desiHumor 😛 😛 😛
How To reach Bansphatak Flower Market Varanasi: Well you can follow this Google map to reach Samudreswar Mahadev Mandir, once to the temple you can ask for the Bansphatak Flower market or just follow your instinct towards the bright flowers emerging from a dark alley, holding the floral secrets.
And incase you are wondering: Bans = Bamboo and Phatak is Gate, so the literal translation of the name of Bansphatak Flower Market is: Bamboo Gate Flower Market.
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