Prayag has been an altogether different zone for me. With the help of my friend Tiwari Ji, I was able to explore the very aspect of Prayag and the Kumbh itself. We already have press passes for the Kumbh ka Mela and will soon be interviewing the Shankaracharya, Murari Bapu and Yoginath himself. Tiwari’s IPS officer brother will also get us contacts with eminent people in the Akhadas of Kumbh. After the Ek Ka Dum event that we concluded live from Eat On Biryani, the team is full of hope. They intend to do the One Rupaiya collection drive for the next 30 days and finally gift the DM of Prayag 21 full mud gulags full of one rupee coins. That will be the kind of effort we will make with EK KA DUM initiative. This time in Kumbh, we will make sure we contribute towards the cleaning of Kumbh and the Triveni.
I, for one, explored the Bhagat Singh Park today, which is as large and sprawling as the Azad Park. The city is steeped in Saffron. I already have an invitation to join a Bhandara that is taking place on the road outside Eat On. The local shopkeepers will serve Khichdi and Aloo Puri to all. We will also conduct our Ek Ka Dum event at that time in the afternoon. The local seva samitis have given their blessings to the event. With the help of our radio partner 92.7 BIG FM, we were also able to promote this event and publicise it well in advance. The promotion has given the event its sheen and now, with some trusted students, we are able to do it all over the Kumbh and certain key youth hangouts in the city.
Watching Manikarnika is also on my to-do list in the city of Prayagraj. It is playing in the Palace Cinema near Eat On and Civil Lines Market. Beyond it is the famous Subhash Chauraha made in the memory of Subhash Chandra Bose. This is the main city and shopping area of the town where merchants and shops sell their wares. Now full of malls and western fast food joints, it reminds one of an urban city. I am told the first show is at 4:30 pm. For this extravaganza, Kangana Ranaut has done a great job. In the Gangetic planes of Middle India, tales of valour, pride and victory against the odds especially when an Indian king or warrior wins, is celebrated. I am sure the locals enjoy the valour and the saga of the legendary queen of Jhansi Laxmi Bai.
Until the 4th of February, the city will be closed. One can see just a river of heads at the Kumbh. With the baths starting, it will be chock-a-block. I intend to have a bath regularly in the Ganga as I feel I have missed out on the river bathing part of the travelogue. Apart from that, I am soaking in the religious and pious energies of the Kumbh praying for my loved ones and remembering those who are no more amongst me.
The electric rickshaws are the lifeline of the city and have made my travel around Prayag very comfortable. Whether I am exploring the Indian Coffee House or the Residence of Indira Gandhi, the rickshaw takes me from one end of Azad Park right to the Prayag Railway Station. People are poor here but happy and respectful of each other’s tehzeeb. There have been a few protests from the Muslim sects that Kumbh has been given too much importance and that the state does not celebrate Eid in such a festive manner. The security is tight as police, special forces and commandos are present at every street corner even at the Kumbh.
We have run out of Tikku’s Travelthon t-shirts as we gave all away during the Eat On promotional drive, but more have been ordered for signatories and the press. Till then keep following www.tikksutravelthon.in – The Kumbh Travelogue.