Oct 31, 2018, Visiting historic Kannauj
Slow Boat Down the Ganges Update 36
There was no way I could refuse the offer of being guided around Kannauj, particularly after the warm hospitality I received from the Sarpanch and her family, but from the entire village. The village teacher was summoned with his Renault Kwid, and three of us made our way to Kannauj. But not before some fresh fish was caught, I was offered a range of options, the dish prepared and cooked by the Sarpanch A hearty meal later that doubled as breakfast and lunch, we were off.
Last night I slept on a cot once again, the second time after Mamipur. Once again, the hospitality was incredible. The house was opened for me as an honoured guest, mattresses were laid out, pillows were placed and there were multiple offers of a blanket. I accepted everything except the blanket and slept tucked in my sleeping bag. Everyone was very impressed with my sleeping bag, particularly its size and weight. In fact, they were impressed with pretty much anything that came out of my bag. There was a solar lamp ... more like a street light ... right above my cot and it was shining right into my eyes. They wanted to switch it off, fearing it would affect my sleep. Nothing of the sort happened. I was out like a light and slept like a log.
Morning happened at about six with the village sounds all around my bed. On slowly squinting my eyes, I found all the kids and many of the elders all around the cot I was sleeping in, waiting for me to wake up. Most of the village was up and about about a couple of hours before what, for me, was still midnight. Anyway, I woke up, and was promptly offered some tea. I was almost escorted into the newly constructed toilet to carry out morning duties, which I politely refused, considering that I cannot squat. People advised me a "mouthwash", meaning toothpaste and toothbrush. By the time it was ready to leave, people were aghast that I would be leaving without even changing the clothes I wore the previous day and slept in the previous night. I think they took it as an afront that I did not change into fresh clothes. There were even offers to wash my clothes! The entire village was taking a bath and here I was not even wanting to change my clothes. I bet they thought that I was crazier than what they had imagined me to be when I landed up yesterday.
Braving the criticism of the entire village, we were off to Kannauj. Kannauj is called the perfume capital of India and almost all the perfume made and exported out of the country is manufactured here. I was told that the streets smelt of perfume and overpowers every other possible smell. However, on our visit to the city, it was one temple after another. There was once a King who had seven daughters and he ended up constructing temples in the names of each of his daughters. I think we visited four of five of these temples. Small, quaint, beautiful.
I wanted to visit the market to pick up some goodies for the kids of the village and picked up something called gatta. Essentially a slab of pure sugar. The kids loved it. The final halt at Kannauj was to the fort of King Jai Chand. It was his daughter who was abducted by Prithviraj Chauhan that led to the bitter rivalry between the two, resulting in Jai Chand siding with the Moghuls, providing the way to defeat Prithviraj Chauhan. The fort today is non-existent, the only thing that remains is a mosque, and an adjoining madrasa. It is sad to see such historical sites disappear, but I guess that is the law of Nature ... the new gives way to the old.
The final stop, the fort turned out to be one stop less than final, was at the Happy Juice shop. After which it was back to the village. Electricity happened for the first time since I arrived more than 30 hours ago, and a whole lot charging of batteries, transfer of footage, etc happened.
Tomorrow sees me back in the river and from what I have understood, my next stop should be at Mehndi Ghat, about forty kilometres away and just after Kannauj. A couple of rivers meet the Ganges at Kannauj, and I am hoping the increased volume will provide some current. Kanpur is about 150 kilometres away and if I am luck with the current, I hope to reach in three days time, if not then four days. Let us see how the river behaves and what kind of distance I can log.