“Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”- Mark Twain
Anandavana. Benaras. Kashi. Varanasi.
One city.Many names.
Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities in the world which attracts people of all kinds. Being the spiritual capital of the country, people visit the place in the hope of attaining moksha(salvation).If you are the kind who loves temples then you are welcomed by temples everywhere.Whether one believes in the mythology or history or both there is no doubt that it is an ancient city. The reasons vary and are endless but below are my favorite reasons to explore this city of chaos.
The old buildings,temples,ashrams and palaces along the banks of Ganga paints a colorful,vibrant and regal backdrop. When the sun rays fall on the buildings the photographer in you is in for a treat :)Everything between life and death can be seen on the Ghats of Varanasi.Pilgrims take dip in the sacred river.Dead bodies burn.Boys play blissfully unaware.People wash their clothes by the river.Rituals are performed.Sadhus meditate among-st the mayhem.Ganga accepts everything and everyone. The quote –Life goes on plays in the mind more than once.
There are number of Ghats alongside Ganga in Varanasi. The quickest way to cover them is via boat ride and then take a walk through the popular Ghats.Some of the important and popular Ghats are the Dasaswamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Harischandra Ghat, Assi Ghat,Shivala Ghat, Man Mandir Ghat, Darbhanga Ghat, Ahilyabai Ghat and the Kedar Ghat.
I am more of sunset person because I do not like leaving my cosy bed but I dragged myself for this and I loved every moment.Morning boat ride down the river Ganga is one the peaceful experiences I have had offlate. I watched the sunrise stripped of any backdrop over the horizon of changing water hues and this simple sunrise is the best sunrise I have seen so far. Alone in the company of rippling Ganga, I watched sun rays hit the Ghats and dip them with golden hues. The Ghats are bustling with morning activities and are a pleasure to watch.
- OLD NARROW ALLEYS:
If you want to go beyond the temples,ghats,religion and history then get lost in the narrow alleys of Varanasi.Banaras is called Mini India. If you walk through these lanes, you will understand how an area represents states of India-complete with customs, deities and food habits. You see how mordern life functions around the ancient city lanes. Old Varanasi has a network of narrow alleys where cars cannot pass but you will bump into pedestrians, bicyclists, cows and even motorcyclists.Give it a chance and do not mind the claustrophobia-inducing narrow lanes.Wander about and get lost in the alleyways of Varanasi.
You need not have a silver fork to taste good food.
I saved the best for the last 😉 Small walks down in the oldest part of Varanasi where it is famous not just for its narrow streets but also for some finger licking street food. I drank/ate simple fresh fruit lassi to customized coconut chocolate banana lassi at Varanasi’s most famous and visited Blue Lassi Shop . Starting the day with hot desi ghee jalebis followed by famous Kachori Sabzi and ending the day with various kinds of meeta paan, the foodie in me let out a cry of satisfaction.
Varanasi surprised me with lot of unexpected but pleasant experiences.I hope that I have been able to convince at least few you to visit this vibrant city even if you are not religious or spiritual.Just like me 😉