Cities across India are on high alert, a day after twin bomb blasts rocked the holy city of Varanasi.
The blasts occurred at a Hindu temple and the railway station
People affected by the blasts have been emailing the BBC News website with their accounts of the incidents and the atmosphere in the city.
It was supposed to be my first visit to the temple and I was close enough to the blast site when I heard a faint explosion. Assuming it to be a firecracker or something nobody paid much heed to it. It did not take us much time to realize what had happened after seeing people screaming and running in panic. I still get the jitters thinking about it.
Anthony Gonsalves, Varanasi, India
I have lived near Sankat Mochan for several years and known several people who go the temple everyday, sometimes twice a day, be it rain or shine. My brother-in-law was on his way to the temple when he saw crowds of people running in all directions... later he realized what had happened. With two weddings in the premises of the temple and the day being a Tuesday, I can very well imagine how the temple space would be bubbling with at least ten times the amount of people it was probably meant to accomodate. I have myself been a happy spectator to some of those weddings at the temple. Hopefully, the tragedy does not shatter people's faith in their "sankat mochan." I hope and pray for everyone's safety.
Sunita , United States
I have been turning to Lord Hanuman at Sankat Mochan for the past 12 years in all my hard times, every time it was an exam the next, every time I felt depressed, every time I sought strength. I had seen arts students gathering there to draw sketches of people worshipping and chatting there. On a typical Tuesday and Saturday, there would be a huge crowd - men, women, children, and students - all seeking blessings to be successful in their next endeavor. Some sick mind also chose this same place to start on his gruesome endeavor.
Shashank Singh, Varanasi, India
The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is just about a couple of Km. from the Sanket Mochan temple. At around 6:10 pm (local time) we heard a loud thunder in the campus. We thought it was a thunder bolt, but within minutes the reports of serial blasts started pouring in. We saw scores of ambulances leaving and entering the campus' Sir Sunderlal Hospital. The people behind the blast don't deserve to be called humans.
Sudeep Tandon, Varanasi, India
I am a Ph.D student of Banaras Hindu University. The Sankatmochon Mandir is about 2-3 km from my hostel. It was around 6.30pm local time, when I heard a huge sound of blast, while I was reading. The sound was horryfying. Just five minutes after that I got a phone call from my friend and informed about the incident of bomb blast at Sankatmochon.After seeing the news of many deaths and injured I rushed to the S. S. hospital, which is on our university campus. The situation at the hospital is just panicky and painful. People are so angry and shocked.
Pranab Kumar Muhuri, Varanasi
I saw one of the explosions in the station. It exploded near to where people were buying their train tickets. I was walking towards it when I was thrown off my feet and covered in other people's blood. People just disappeared. There was then another blast but I don't know where from. Who's done this? Why?
I was in the Hanuman Temple when the blast occured. It was just a huge deafening sound that left me disoriented and completely deaf. My ear drums are blown out and the shock wave caused my ears and nose to bleed. I am not sure how I managed to find my way out but there were people running everywhere -- and I remember that I kept wondering why it was so quiet. Medical facilities are overworked -- When I realized I could not hear and I saw my blood soaked shirt -- I requested a scooter to take me to the local hospital -- it was so crowded and chaotic -- I left after standing there for over 2 hours. I still cannot hear though my ears are no longer bleeding. My brother is a Doctor and he is on his way to help me after getting my email. I feel lucky since I survived with minor injuries -- I dont know how many people must be suffering -- I saw horrible injuries in the hospital -- please do what you can to ensure medical help is available.
Shailesh, Varanasi, India
As a resident of Varanasi, the bombings are a rude wake up call to me. Hate has prevailed our hearts. From the destruction of the Babri Masjid to the bombing of Sankat Mochan mandir ¿ is this the direction which we are trying to take our country? I am hopeful that this string of violence will not be followed by communal backlashes. But rather it will act as a time of introspection for people of all religions in India. Either we can respect our differences and try to make diversity our strength ¿ or we can live by hate and destroy our country. Rather than violence which stemmed as result of the Godhra tragedy, let us take out a march by people of all religions to condole the dead and show that we will make such attempts futile. May the innocent people who lost their lives to this tragedy rest in peace.
Sidhartha Arora, Varanasi, India
I was born and brought up in Varanasi. Visiting Sankat Mochan on Tuesday evening was my weekly routine. Even now when I go back home I make sure I visit there every tuesday. My parents are still in Varanasi and fortunately for me they were not at the temple at that time. It is an act of cowardice to put a bomb in a temple that is visited by innocent citizens.
Soumyaroop Bhattacharya, Boston, US
I grew up in the Hindu holy city. The Sankat Mochan temple is the most popular and followed temple among locals. Tuesday and Saturday are the busiest day¿s devotees come to prey God Hanuman. I have so many friends and extended family that visit every Tuesday. I am concerned and going to call them as soon as the night is over. This is a planned attack to do the maximum damage. God bless us all.
Xitij Shankar, Denver, CO, USA
When the bomb exploded at Sankat Mochan Temple, was there at the Main gate of the Temple. It was dreadful to watch some people near the explosion site falling on their knees.The blast was so powerful that my friends in the hostel at ITBHU heard it clearly. People were coming blood-stained from inside the temple. Some people from outside temple rushed back to temple as their relatives were still inside the temple. From the planning of attack, it is obvious that it was terrorist attack. Their only aim was to disrupt peace in the city. There were no security people or policemen inside or outside the temple. They have chosen Tuesday for attack on temple because thousands of visitors come to pray on this special day.
Sulabh Upadhyay, Varanasi Uttar Pradesh
I was born and brought up in Varanasi and have lived in the area very close to Sankat Mochan temple. My many family members and friends visit temple very frequently. Luckily no one got hurt but the fact that so many other people got killed, causes extreme anger.
Shishir Tiwari, Allahabad
I was in Varanasi for 10 days about a week ago. My last day there was Shivratri, one of the most important religious holidays for Hindus. There were large numbers of police and army scattered around the city, especially near important temples. During religious parades there were military escorts walking with the celebrants. It is difficult to assess if this security presence was routine or the result of warnings about possible terrorist attacks. The railway station seemed to be functioning normally and without extra security. I was my impression that the city, which I have visited many times in the past, was more intense and passionate than previously experienced. The Shivratri night and the days leading up to it may have increased the friction between the Hindu and Islamic community, but these communities have live side by side for centuries with a few incidents of overt violence.
Gary Rees, Sierra Madre California, USA
It is not an attack on any temple but a well planned and strategised doing of terrorists trying to play with the communal harmony of one of the oldest city of world. But it's for sure that people here are quite aware of these tactics and should not fall in these cheap doings. I see a more united and cooperative behaviour from the citizens of the holy city Varanasi.
Upendra Gupta, Varanasi, India
We live in BHU, approx 2kms aerial distance from the site of the blast, the Sankat Mochan Temple, but we felt the shocks and a loud sound of the blast. Selection of a Hindu temple as a bomb site, that too on a Tuesday, can trigger off a chain reaction of riots in the city which can further hamper the image of India. This concern was shown by the local administration and soon whole city was put on high alert and a light curfew was put up in the sensitive areas. The air is calm now but the hearts are not.
Surya, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India
I just went to Varanasi to see the beautiful temples there. It was very crowded with lot of devotees coming specially to pray on Tuesday. As soon as the blast occurred everyone were seen running. People was terrified but did not get into any blame game and I am sure peace will prevail and it will not lead to another communal riots in India.
Tom Jose, Mumbai, India
I was born and brought up in Varanasi. My parents still live there and they go to Sankat Mochan daily. My Mother was there two hours before the attack. And my best friend was actually in the temple when the blast took place. Fortunately she is safe. But the very thought that I could have lost her sends shivers down the spine. Still I don't blame people from any particular religion for what happened. And I appeal to all the people in India specially Varanasi to maintain calm. Terrorists don't belong to any religion.
Suruchi Pandey, Bristol, UK
I was near the temple, actually going there. People say quite a lot of children have been injured, but still it is not clear. I was nearby, on my way to the temple. In the area all the shops are closing because people started to run throwing stones. The area is now blocked. I'm an Italian journalist, in Benares by chance.
I was going out to run few errands. I saw the traffic halted and people running around. Lots of police vehicle and ambulances. People are really angry with the incident. The city border is sealed, shops are closed and security measures are being taken. Another bomb blast on the railway station. It has shaken up the city.
Kripal Singh, Varanasi, India
The temple is one of the most important in the holiest city of the Hindus. Tuesday is the busiest day at the temple. The blasts were calculated to create the greatest loss of human life while devotees were offering prayers.
Tito Basu, Tampa, Florida, USA
Varanasi is not just a Holy Temple Town but is what Mecca is to Muslims and Vatican to Catholics. This could result in riots throughout the country. Varanasi also happens to be what can be called the oldest living city in the world. The city finds mention in epic Mahabharath. The Queen of Hastinavathi (somewhere near Delhi) was the daughter of King of Kashi (Varanasi)
Raghavendra S Kattinakere, Bangalore
We go to the temple for peace not for blast, it hurt and triggers the feeling. Even now I pray to God for peace not for revenge of the terrorist.