Varanasi – Religious and spiritual destination

For a non-Indian, Varanasi can be one of the most attractive locations for photography. Varanasi has been called the city of temples as well as city of lights. Varanasi is an important destination in many India Tour Packages. A visit to India is incomplete without a visit to Varanasi.

Further more it is also considered to be the oldest living city on earth. When you promenade through Varanasi and spend time and effort to understand its narrative, then you shall come abreast of tales of love, forgiveness, dedication and inspiration.

Sadhus at Ganges

Sadhus at Ganges

Varanasi can be the city of liberation. Generally speaking, in the Hindu philosophy, freedom and joy are attained after death if the life has been well spent in pursuit of these attributes. In Varanasi this can become easier.

The ghats of Varanasi have been much photographed and written about. Stand on the steps leading down to the river, hear the sound of the river Ganges, the fragrance of burning incense mixed with fresh air, the ringing of bells, the chanting, the medication, the wandering sadhu – all of these come together to become a heady mix of upliftment.

Varanasi has about 100 ghats. Most of them were built during the Maratha rule. A large percent of these ghats are bathing ghats. Few are reserved for cremation and washing clothes (dhobi ghat).

For a moment, even if you are hard core money chasing city dweller, you can experience the upliftment of your soul. The pace of Varanasi life ushers in a sense of peace and calm around you.

Bathing Ghats

Bathing Ghats

But it is not an easy city to visit. It generates strong emotions of love and rejection. After Varanasi, nothing else shall surprise you. No city in the world shall have the capacity to surprise you. Varanasi is intense. Very intense.

Varanasi was established by Lord Shiva. Since centuries Indians have travelled to Varanasi in search of moksha or liberation. You shall come upon many old people waiting patiently, to die as it is their belief that the one who dies in Kashi (Varanasi) attains liberation.

Wander through the narrow, winding lanes of Varanasi. Almost every corner has a small temple. Varanasi is a holy city to Hindus, Jains and Buddhists. You shall encounter many hordes of sadhus, renunciates in search of better afterlife.

Ganga Aarti

Ganga Aarti

The highlight of your Varanasi trip shall be in the evening Ganga Aarti. A sight that is ethereal and divine. A boat ride on the river Ganges, especially at sunrise is not to be missed. Thousands of boatman earn their living ferrying people to strategic locations on the river for delightful photographic views.

Varanasi has a significant presence of Muslims. Varanasi is well known for its schools of Indian classical music and dance. Many illustrious names have learnt and perfected their art of instrument playing and vocal rendition at these famous schools. Ustad Bismillah Khan is one example. He was famous for shennai playing. Shennai is a type of flute with piercing high pitch sound.

Varanasi can be your base to do a day’s journey to Sarnath. In Sarnath, you shall see many Buddhist monuments.

As Varanasi is a holy city, you shall meet many reverential devotees. Engage with them and hold conversations on all aspects of this life and afterlife.

It shall also surprise you if you decide to wade in the river, that how swiftly Ganges flows. The current is so strong that if you’re not careful, it shall sweep you away.

All types of food and cuisines is now available in Varanasi. This is one visible benefit of the tourism. A branch of IIT is located in Varanasi. IIT is the celebrated institution of India, from where high IQ engineers emerge.

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