travel

Varanasi

Last week I made a trip to Varanasi and it was overwhelming. The crowds, sights and sounds are amazing. And even though I live in India, it’s something to be experienced for oneself.

Varanasi is one of the holiest sites for Hindus. Millions of people come here every year to pray, cleanse themselves in the river and to pay tribute to departed loved ones. Every Hindu hopes to visit Varanasi at least once in their life time.

Sunrise over the Ganga at Varanasi – Photo by Dipanjan Saha from Pexels.com

It is said that if you die here you will go straight to Mount Kailash (the equivalent of heaven) Not all of us are privileged to die here. But by doing the tarpanam in Varanasi we give moksha to our loved ones like if they had their last rites in Varanasi. We offer prayers and have a dip in the waters of the holiest of rivers to Hindus the Ganga to wash away our sins.

The Kasi Viswanathan temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva considered as the head of the holy Hindu Trinity. Here he is known as Visveshwara or Viswanatha.

We went into the temple at 4 pm and the crowd was just building up. We waited in line only for 15 min with a cup of milk in hand. The nice aspect of temples in this area of India is that you can do the puja yourself. Therefore, we poured the milk on the Lingam. We then made way for the next eager devotee. Be careful of picket pockets and chain snatchers in this frenzied crowd.

Ganga Aarti in progress

The evening prayers to Mother Ganga – Ganga Arti – must be experienced. By evening the ghat is jam-packed with people. The heat was overwhelming in mid-June. Despite this heat, people poured in from 6 pm to witness the ceremony. You can take a boat ride to view it from the waters also. It’s more comfortable than sitting on the hot stone steps crowded with people.

The Ganga Arti has been performed for hundreds of years

It’s a nice feeling to know that the Ganga Arti has been done in this very spot for hundreds of years. It’s simply divine.

Shopping:

Treat yourself to fine silks, luxurious cottons woven by the master weavers of Varanasi.

Varanasi is well known for it silks. The benares saris both silk and cotton are world-famous. Brocade benares saris are something every woman covets. So after you prayers are over, do visit the shopping area!

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla.

Bargaining is allowed, the general rule being to start by offering half of what the seller asks and work your way up to somewhere in the middle. Haggling is a serious business here. There are many fixed-price shops too where they will give you a small discount instead of the bargaining if that isn’t your cup of tea.

14 thoughts on “Varanasi”

  1. I enjoyed reading about Varanasi. I’ve never been there though I have a Banarsi sari. The Ganga Arti is a sure highlight that I would love to attend some day. I also hear that the ghats are now very clean and well maintained.

    1. Everything about Varanasi is overwhelming Sonia. The ghats are a lot better now for sure and we humans also need to participate in keeping it clean right?!

  2. I have never been to Varanasi but my dad had been there in April last year after my mom expired. He found the whole experience of bathing the ganga and the aarti very calming and soothing. Your pictures are amazing and I would love to go here soon.

  3. Lovely write up, Brinda! Really enjoyed reading about the present day Varanasi….had been there…. seems like eons ago…can only remember the sweltering heat, the crowds and little else. God willing, will visit once again…. waiting for your next

  4. Similar to the mighty Himalayas Varanasi also has this breath taking quality. Blessed to have experienced it Brin.

  5. The mystic charm Varanasi attracts you to go there again and again ! So happy for you Brin!!

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