What can be said about a city that is older than legend itself? Chaotic yet serene, Varanasi is one of the oldest and the most continuously populated cities in the world. A city full of people brought up amid a cacophony of ancient history, myths and religion.
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We see a regular rural landscape with pretensions of development -- hurriedly made haphazard structures, dusty barren lands stretching into dry fields, a cluster of tacky construction, flourishing small sweet-shops and retail traders co-existing with some fancy multinational outlets. Billboards at regular intervals have a beaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminding you that this is his territorial domain, one that he apparently wants to convert into a replica of Japan's breathtakingly charming Kyoto. I am told that real estate prices have skyrocketed high since May 2014. I nod in empathetic understanding.
My granny's faith had brought us to Varanasi. She had at some point of time promised her attendance at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in exchange of her prayers being answered. God sometimes gets bribed it seems, for here we were to keep her end of the deal.
With the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh due in 2017, the BJP and Modi must realise that the road to Lucknow is via Varanasi. So, how far has Modi come in his constituency? How much did the blazing rhetoric actually translate into work on the ground? Here is a look at what has happened in Varanasi over the past 10 months and what must be achieved to enable the BJP to win UP in 2017.