Every time, I landed up in countries that had thriving art scene, I would wonder, why don’t we have some in India. I know we have lots in India to be proud of and not many would have thought about street art or murals but I am a sucker for street art, so I do have my whims and fancy. Well, Mumbai has done its best to keep pace with the rest of the world but still we were far behind a few years ago. The unsanctioned paintings or an art work or graffiti was not even taken seriously by the next door neighbors, why would anyone talk about them. The local artists who were capable of giving life to blank walls had no recognition at all. But now, we are killing it. Our cities, from Jammu to Goa, are experimenting in full flow. Some individual as well as groups projects are making a color-splash all over the country. The city of Varanasi is the new addition to the list. Next time, when you are there, just go out for an art walk. I had definitely not anticipated this kind of makeover via street art. I absolutely loved it. So will you.
Colorful imagery, urban sentiments, old traditions, people & faces!
This was not the first time when I noticed street art work in the alleys of Varanasi but this was definitely the first time when every wall was speaking its own story and it was not just me but everyone else was also noticing and taking pictures. This is when I felt street art has arrived in India, in Varanasi. I had seen Godly figurines and religious messages around the ghats, in my previous visits too. But the present scenario is overwhelming. The city has been decked up with street art, literally. A city which is already known as vibrant and colourful for too many reasons, is shimmering with freshly painted wall art, these days. During my recent visit, I noticed this huge change. Even the water tanks looked resplendent with colors. Every dull space looked bright and beautiful. Some of the works were extremely inspiring and interactive that one couldn’t resist taking a picture. If this is happening in the name of development and beautification, I must congratulate the admins for taking it up. And of course, the artists deserve a bigger applaud.
Now, Varanasi has— temples, ghats, food, music, culture, and street art too.
Where to find them?
I am not sure I saw all of it but there were three areas, beyond the ghat, about which I would definitely like to mention. If you can manage a quick walk around the Kachahari Chauraha, Hamrautia, do go for it. This is the court area of the city and lately, it has been swarmed with street art. Stroll around the whole circle of the area and I bet, you will not get bored. Every art piece suggests something good about the city. It touches upon its musical connect, the ghats, the spiritual side, Lord Shiva and the famous personalities who have hailed from the city. The other area which also impressed me was the colony where the trade facilitation center exists, Maqbool Alam Road, Sudhakar Rd. Last but not the least, don’t forget to look for some impromptu art on the water tanks, at important cross roads, under the brides, on the sides of flyover walls. There is some around the Mall Road in Cantonment area too. So the crux is that next time when you are in Varanasi, you must keep your eyes open and keep them fixated towards the walls, I bet you will be amused.
The growing street-art scene in India is heartening…
It feels great to share that India has finally woken up to the idea of street art and I am super glad that the local artists and their creative works on the city walls is lending a new, positive and significant perspective to our contemporary art and culture. For centuries, some of our cities and towns have been known for their architecture, history, culture and tribal art but soon they will also be known for street art. I mean, look at Varanasi. The city has been an epitome of timelessness. There is so much history and heritage to talk about, but the modern twist to the city with progressive paintings has given it an amazing makeover. I recommend a street art walk for the city. People should go looking for some of the paintings just like they do in Penang in Malaysia.
Keep sharing street art pictures with me, whichever city you are in! Follow my #travelandart project on Instagram.