‘Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.’

These few lines by Mark Twain say it all. The first city of Hinduism, an eternal city with vibrant past and myriad attractions, Varanasi has been the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Hindus since time immemorial. It is a city that people visit not only to explore, but also to die in; it is believed that a person who dies in this city attains salvation!

The city is a maze of narrow lanes and quaint alleyways which are filled with colourful shops selling interesting items, people walking up and down, and even the occasional cow roaming aimlessly around. Clearly Varanasi is a city with a heart — everyone finds a place here.

The Narrow lanes of Varanasi
The narrow lanes bustling with activity

These alleyways invariably lead you to one of the countless temples, shrines or ashrams. The most revered temple here is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, where the three-eyed lord of the universe, Lord Shiva, resides in a self-manifested form.

The New Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The New Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The major focal point of the city, however, is the holy River Ganges, worshipped as a living goddess with the power to wash away the earthly sins of mankind. The 90-odd ghats which line the river banks are each unique in its own way, and are a major attraction of Varanasi.

A Panoramic view of the ghats
A panoramic view of the ghats
The main burning ghat
The main burning ghat where funeral pyres continue to burn night and day

Life here starts well before dawn; the river glows as the sun comes up and the ghats burst into activity. You see people bathing, rituals taking place, sages meditating, boatmen wooing customers… These ghats are definitely the heart and soul of Varanasi. If you don’t have the time to roam around the ghats then the boat ride offers an unobstructed view of the city in all its splendour.

Siberian Sea Gulls
Even the Siberian seagulls come to experience the city every year!

The sights, smells and sounds, and the deep profusion of legends that you experience make a trip to this city an incomparable experience. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get exploring!

Your thoughts on "A mystical city – Varanasi"

  • What a fantastic post... Beautifully described, the worlds oldest city and what a day to be doing this post on... Today being the day of the Lord Shiva!! Brilliant pics, the panoramic view of the ghats is amazing:)

    on March 1, 2011 at 11:32 pm Reply
    • Thanks Dipesh. It definitely is a very beautiful place. Thanks for the appreciation:)

      on March 4, 2011 at 1:10 am Reply
      • Hi Arti, You have written a great post and you deserve appreciation for this. Keep them coming. Eva

        on March 10, 2011 at 7:25 pm
  • Dear Arti Awesome photographs ...I have visited Varanasi numerous times from University days to taking interviews at BHU campus at a later stage. Baranasi is Baranasi. I can spend rest of my life there ..I love the place.

    on March 2, 2011 at 8:58 am Reply
  • Yes - great photos, and a good story. Amazing serendipity on the date, isn't it!

    on March 2, 2011 at 9:40 pm Reply
    • Thanks Craig and Linda, Yes the day is celebrated in a very big way in India and its a wonderful co incidence!!

      on March 4, 2011 at 1:11 am Reply
  • Another great article Arti.

    on March 3, 2011 at 1:57 am Reply
  • I am definitely going to Varanasi next time I go to India. I'd like to go there during a festival, like the Kumbh Mela - seems pretty crazy!

    on March 3, 2011 at 11:58 pm Reply
    • The Kumbh Mela isn't held in Varanasi... Any time of the year in Varanasi is great, especially during dec-feb when the weather is also cooler!!

      on March 4, 2011 at 1:13 am Reply
  • Really nice post .Varanasi is a beautiful place in India. I heard that ghats are looking awesome specially in the evening.I will definitely visit there.

    on July 28, 2011 at 1:49 am Reply

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