Varanasi witnesses increase in tourists over doomsday rumours

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 21, 2012 09:09 hrs

Varanasi: Threatened by rumours of doomsday, devotees and tourists thronged the holy city of Varanasi on Thursday for shelter and to offer prayers.

The Mayan 'Long Count' calendar runs out on Friday, which New Age jibber jabberers have widely predicted means an Apocalypse.

In May, archaeologists discovered a scribe's notes about the Maya lunar calendar on the wall of a tiny structure buried under forest debris in Guatemala, which they say could be the first known records by an official chronicler of this ancient civilization.

These notes pertain to the same Maya calendar that is sometimes erroneously thought to predict the world's end on or about December 22, 2012.

The researchers who helped uncover and decipher the wall's inscriptions said the Maya calendar foresaw a vast progression of time, with the December 2012 date the beginning of a new calendar cycle called a 'Baktun'.

"Due to the doomsday rumours on December 21 that are circulating, people are coming to Varanasi because they believe Varanasi is indestructible, even on doomsday it won't be destroyed. Hence people are coming here for their safety and some people also believe that if the doomsday and they die, then they would achieve salvation, if they die in Varanasi," said Kishore Nath, a Hindu priest.

The fact that these calendar details were inscribed on the wall preserved them better than any book would have, since no books remain from the period when the inscriptions were made, probably around 800 A.D., the researchers said.

In addition to the inscribed numbers, there were pictures on other walls of the structure, including an image of a king in a feather headdress, seated on a throne, with a white-garbed person peeking out from behind him. A painting of a scribe holding a stylus was on another wall.

These paintings were the first Maya art to be found on the walls of a house, the researchers said. 

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