Arguably the most overwhelming and atmospheric city of India, call it Varanasi, Banaras, or Kashi, this city is a celebration, reverence, and mystery in itself. After scaling the length and breadth of India, it’s impossible to think of Varanasi as just another pilgrimage site. Only this city will enlighten you with life and death at full display. Being the world’s oldest inhabited city and the holiest in Hinduism, Varanasi is known to the world for liberating oneself from the cycle of birth, death, and reincarnation. Strange but you will come across people eager to die here or simply wash away their sins after a holy dip in the Ganges. For some, it’s just a customary dip in the holy river. Have you heard of a hostel that caters to the need to stay until you die? Kashi Mumukshu Bhawan is the one to look at.
Marvel at its ghats as you sail down the Ganges either early in the morning or during the sunset, the city is an amazing spectacle lit colorfully. Amidst the intimidating traffic and chaos, mystery and intrigue will fill your heart the moment you approach the mazed alleyways of ghats on the river Ganges. Countless folks line the ghats engrossed in their religious attributes and grasping the wonders of this mystical place. Each Ghat in the holy city has its unique story to lure every wanderer.
A trip to Varanasi is unsatisfying if you miss the Ganga aarti performed by the priests at the Dashashwamedh Ghat. The fragrance of the incense sticks, resonating rhythm of the conch shells, and moving brass lamps fill the ambiance with enervating climax leaving you deep soaked in the soulful aura of the place. The sight is the best blend of faith and spirituality.
Amongst the laneways, away from the banks of the Ganges, is the sacred Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple. It’s a sight to behold to witness thousands of devotees expressing their devotion to Lords Rama and Hanuman.
They say Varanasi is not for the faint-hearted! Confronting the rituals of death at Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat is a life-changing experience. The flames of the funeral pyre here keep burning ceaselessly, twenty-four into seven.
This city does offer a myriad of culinary delights. From sipping tea in the small earthen teapots (Kulhad) to betel-leaf concoction (Banarasi Paan), Varanasi is the perfect balance between ancient and modern civilization!