VARANASI, INDIA, May 1, 2020 (Kevin Standage Photography): Being an archaeologist, I probably spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about the hidden history that might be buried under my feet. During my time in Varanasi (Banaras, Kashi) earlier this year, such thoughts often came to the forefront of my mind. Here is one of the oldest continually inhabited places anywhere in the world, and whilst most of the structures we see in the city today are not particularly ancient, there must be a wealth of archaeological evidence stretching back probably thousands of years, all completely sealed and hidden by layers of subsequent human occupation. Opportunities to peel back any of these layers are of course few and far between in such a densely packed and populated city, but recently some chance discoveries have occurred thanks to the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor Project.
Due to be completed in the early summer of 2021, this is PM Narendra Modi’s dream project which will not only change the look of the ancient city, but will help ease congestion and provide much needed amenities. The 65 ft. wide corridor will connect the Vishwanath Temple, also known as the Golden Temple and one of the most famous Hindu temples in India, with the famous ghats on the Ganga 985 ft. to the east. To create this corridor, many houses and shops have had to be leveled and the inhabitants relocated. The whole area (43,636 square meters) was earlier characterized by serpentine lanes lined with older structures that had become fused, hidden, and sometimes even buried by newer structures. Thus far, the process of creating this flattened plateau of land in the heart of the city has led to the discovery of no less than 53 temples, many of them hidden inside the now demolished houses.
Stunning photos at “source.”