I decided to take a ride to the holiest of the seven cities in Hinduism as well as Jainism. It is one of the living ancient cities. Millions of pilgrims, tourists visit Varanasi to pray, to meditate, to experience the dip in the majestic holy river – The Ganges. Since it is well connected by air, Rail and road, which makes it easy accessible. I decided to travel by rail and strike some conversation with my fellow travellers to get more information on this pious city.
As I stepped on the platform the suggestion of my fellow travellers echoed in my mind.
“Do not miss theboat ride at either sunrise or sunset and the Ganga maiyaakiAarti”. The city is flooded with pilgrims. The colour and clamour of the pilgrims add to the aesthetic atmosphere of the city. The way the city comes across you, leaves your soul rejoiced. The bliss of being a part of India’s rich culture , its firm traditions cannot be expressed in words. The holy naked cannibals – the Sadhus can be frequently spotted here, taking a dip in the sacred river. According to the locals, they are practicing extreme asceticism by always being naked. Idecided to check into the hotel and take some quick nap before venturing out again for some new experiences.
I decided to try my luck for the boat ride at DasaswamedhGhat. It seemed as if half of the Varanasi had poured here to relish the nature’s beauty . The colours, the hues of evening sky , the sun going down like a red ball of fire half submerged in its mom , the Ganga maiya’s lap. Somehow , I managed to hire a boat and take a ride across the river. The sight left me spellbound ! I captured some of the magical moments of the devotees both men and women half submerged in the river, paying their respect to so called “ Maa Ganga”. They were offering flowers petals, lighting diyasthat were floating like candles on the dusky water. The chanting of hymns , the shlokas was so divine, the purity that overflowed definitly proves “Why Banaras is considered to be so holy above all other cities ?” It was a breathtaking experience.
I decided to quick start my day by visiting AssiGhat to witness the calm, pristine morning – the dawn when the holy city prepares itself for a new start. Next on my absolute must watch was Kashi Vishwanath Temple which enshrined theJyotirlinga of Shiva. Since I am an early – morning riser, I had peaceful darshan of the deity. As the day proceeded the queue extends. It is believed that the darshan brings you spiritual peace and liberation from the bondages of maya and the entanglements of the world.
While passing by one of the Ghats my driver told me to witness the real truth of life. He led me through the gates of ManikarnikaGhat also known as Burning Ghat. It definitly is the most confronting of all the ghats. Piles of firewood lined the banks and fires burning continually with streams of dead bodies to attain ultimate salvation – MOKSHA I also visited the sprawling campus of1300acres of B.H.U ie Benaras Hindu University. Established in 1916 by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. It is one of the largest residential Universities in Asia having more than 20,000 students.
. Only 10 Kms from Varanasi, located on the outskirts of Varanasi , a holy place where Buddha is supposed to have delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment is Sarnath. A must watch for the followers of Buddhism. Every year thousands of Buddhists from all over the world flock here in great numbers. Shopping in Benaras is another musts. The silk sarees of Benaras are known all over the world and are one of the priceless family heirlooms, that are passed from one generation to another . The brocades of Benarasare another must buy and an inescapable part of your wardrobe. Benaras silk saree definitely tops the list as gifting souvenir for your loved ones !
As the evening drew in, my body completely exhausted I could not resist wandering on the ghat to experience the marvellous “Ganga Ki Aarti”.