Acoustic Post - varanasi-holy-city

By Parul Srivastava

Kashi, Benaras, Varanasi – names could change but the essence of this devout land does not. I had a little idea about the beauty of this place until I finally visited it. The old lanes of Benaras, the flight of stairs at ‘Dashashwamedh’ ghat, and the sun rising and setting into the Ganges is a sight to reminisce. If we look at historical sources, we’ll see that the most primitive evidence known to archaeologists suggests that settlement around Varanasi in the Ganga valley began in the 11th or 12th century BC. This place is amongst the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities and one can easily get to it by taking direct flights from New Delhi. What makes Varanasi a place like no other, are it’s Ghats (banks). They are the oldest and the most sublime of all ghats on the river Ganga which flows through many States of India.

Acoustic Post - Varanasi Holy City
Ganges Ghats

On my visit to this pious city, I happened to be at one of these ghats at 3.50 am, admiring the tranquil and serene surroundings. The river was quiet and so were the usually buzzing bazaars (markets) on the ghats. The sky started changing colors from 4 am and the view was such that it gives me goosebumps even while writing about it! You have to trust me when I say that I wished I had a camera in my eyes to capture everything that I was witnessing! I did not even feel like blinking my eyes for a fraction of a second because come on, I wouldn’t have missed the everchanging sky and its reflection on the Ganges for even a minute.

The ghats were glimmering in all their glory due to the morning sun and it was all so bewitching. I was just returning from the 3am ‘Mangala Aarti in Kashi Vishwanath Temple and in spite of feeling quite drowsy, oddly enough I was full of immense vigor just by observing the people around me; praying and taking a holy dip in the Ganga with the utmost amount of faith.

If you want to witness the spectacular beauty of Varanasi, go boating in the river and witness the sunrise from a boat, and do not forget to thank me later! I still have this clear memory of tourists flocking around the ghats at dawn; sunlight falling on the fleet of boats all along the river, children gathering at the Chet Singh Ghat for their early morning swimming lessons and the monumental Ramnagar Fort looming high on the other side of the Tulsi ghat. Apart from washing bodies and sins, the river Ganga also takes care of the dirty laundry of the city.

Acoustic Post - Varanasi Holy City
Sadhus in Varanasi

Oh, and you’ll surely find a lot of Sadhus, Pandits andYogis going about their daily lives and practicing Yoga and meditation, all along the ghats.

Numerous invaders came, ruled, and left because none could comprehend the spiritual force of this city. The all-knowing Ganga continues to flow gracefully along the awe-inspiring ghats as it has been doing since the beginning of time.

Ganga Aarti

The splendid Ganga Aarti performed on two of these ghats is something that keeps pulling me back to this ancient land. How mesmerizing is the effect can be judged by the fact that pilgrims cover the entire area on the ghats as well as the boats on the Ganges; all this in spite of the deadly humidity and heat.

Acoustic Post - Varanasi Holy City
Ganga Aarti

The much talked about Benarasi Paan (prepared with betel leaves and areca nut) surely did justice to my taste buds and the Thandai was another star attraction for me. I yearn to go back to Varanasi and sit on one of the ghats at sunrise and once again experience the transcendental bliss. Once again, I want to get lost in the hoary days, once again I want to wrap a gamucha around my neck and devour the benarasi paan, once again I want to see large number of aghoris smoking away to glory, once again I want to see the lustrous, the shimmering light of faith…Once again!

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I always wanted to visit India but didn’t know where to go. Varanasi is going to be my next destination. What is the best time to visit?

    1. Parul Srivastava

      That’s awesome! The best time to visit Varanasi would be during Winters (November- February).

      1. Avatar

        Thank you for the quick response. Is it not too cold in winters?

        1. Parul Srivastava

          It’s still MUCH better than Summers.

  2. Avatar

    beautiful pictures. how far is agra from varanasi. can I visit them in same trip? i want to see taj mahal too.

    1. Parul Srivastava

      Agra and Varanasi are in the State of Uttar Pradesh. You can surely see them both on the same trip!

  3. Avatar

    This is a random question but wondering if you have any tips for travel to Delhi and Goa?

    1. Parul Srivastava

      Check out the temperature before travelling to Delhi and pack accordingly. Visit Goa during the December carnival. 🙂

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