Varanasi, the oldest city of India and the land where Hinduism speaks for itself although it comprises of a roughly major Muslim population. For certain religious duties I embarked on my journey to Varanasi or spoken in local Bhojpuri language as Benares or Kashi named after its ruler. Indian railways has a direct train running from capital city of India i.e. New Delhi to Varanasi. I availed one of those trains. It took roughly 10 hours to travel to the holy place.
The moment I set foot on the place a wave of religiousness crossed my heart upon seeing a lot of pilgrims and devotees running along for hiring some local cabs. Luckily I found one that took me to my lodge that I booked prior to my visit. Well finding a transport isn’t much a big problem. Plenty of buses, cabs and auto rickshaws ply along for tourist service. My lodge had one big window. Upon opening the thing I got a mind-blowing view of River Ganges and the lush green meadows which the river cuts through.
The River Ganges is considered as the holiest river of the nation. The major city that the river flows through in its middle course are mainly Allahabad and Varanasi. Both are considered as sacred cities of the nation. Varanasi is famous for its temples which are countless. My friend from Sweden said “It’s good that here you find religion on every corner of the street unlike Europe where it is confined only to the church boundary”. I think she made a bold statement on that thing and it says a lot about the city I am speaking of. To my surpirse she has travelled to Varanasi 5 times. It was my first time there.
Considering the temples the major attractions are
Kashi Vishwanath temple
Devi Annapurna temple
Durga mata temple
Birla mandir ( it is a Jain temple )
Kal Bhairo mandir \
Shankat Mochan Temple
Tourists flock mainly to these temples You can find a large number of devotees holding a plate full of offerrings standing in a queue to enter the temple premises. Well it solely depends on the hour of the day you’re visiting. Hindus believe that early morning visit to the temple makes your day good. So to avoid rush avoid early morning. Particularly in Kashi Vishwanath temple which is the prime of all temples the rush continues throughout the day.
People say that Kashi Naresh who ruled the kingdom of Varanasi, also known as Benares State under the British rule is the direct descandent of Lord Shiva. He built the Ramnagar Fort just across the river. The fort in the present day is converted into a museum by the Govt. Of India but offers a pictursque view of the royalty of those times. Ladden with open courtyards and wide balconies with semi Mughal architecture Ramnagar Fort is a must visit for those visiting Varanasi in search of myths and history.
The major attraction is the evening prayer which takes place alongside the river in Dashashwamedh Ghat right after sunset. Normally it begins around 6-30 pm when the conch shell is blown. Chosen people might be from the higher rank of Brahmins or pandits who do the aarti holding candles a conch and a big light holder which looks like a five headed snake. While I was watching this aarti from the boat I was feeling a deep peace and silence deep inside although I cannot express in words what it meant but somehow it was something which I cannot forget. Being a hardcore anti religious the aura and the charm of the place and the repeated chanting of the hymns, I fell into it. That certainly caught my eye and I can travel to Varanasi again just for that thing only. Hindus believe that watching the aarti or taking a holy dip in the river can cleanse you off your sins or can cure any deceased family member or be it simply you.
In order to avoid reincarnation or finding a way straight to heaven, funeral pyres are always up alongside the Ganges mainly in Manikarnika Ghat. History says that it has never been a single day where pyres was not lit in this place. A breath taking view of the Manikarika Ghat is possible if you take a boat ride down the river.
Thats all Varanasi to me is. It is very congested city with high demographic ratio and particularly there is no hygiene is some places. For a foodie you cant miss out the various sweet delicacies and variety of milk shakes although I only had a mango shake. But if you like explore you know what I mean, shrug off your boundations and head to the city. It will surprise you in every nook and corner and every single street you travel to, whether be it cows and bulls blocking traffic to really very narrow lanes that only two people can pass together.
Whatever be it if you’re traveling to India head to Varanasi. The place is ready to mesmerize you.
For all the images I did the best possible upload of my own snapshots I could. If there is something you want to share with me please drop a comment below. It will be highly appreciated. All reviews are welcome.