The last couple of weeks were hectic as I was travelling up North. Interestingly I went to Varanasi (or Beneras or Kashi) for the second time as part of the UP Travel Writer’s Conclave 2016 (in its second year). I also went to an art fair Chitrashaala where I met among other artists Sailesh Sanghvi who had some fabulous art work on Varanasi on display. And since I was heading into Rajasthan from Varanasi I was quite struck with the coincidence. Nevertheless, I guess Varanasi is like that – mystical, bustling, quite crazy and yet it has a charm like no other. Exploring the city will offer you something new each time. Little wonder then that it is tagged as “a city as old as time.”
In fact when Om Prakash Singh, Minister of Tourism said, “people come here to live and also when to die” it encapsulated what the city was all about quite succinctly! Here are some of my favourite memories from my trips to arguably among the most revered cities in India – after all it has the mighty Ganga flowing in all its majesty!
The Morning Arati
if you are a morning person like me, you will love the experience of the morning arati. This ritual happens every morning at the crack of dawn and is a great way to start your day in the city.
Visit the weavers
Varanasi is synonymous with the famed Benerasi saree and silks but this is a traditional craft that is under threat. With the influx of power looms, the handloom industry unfortunately does not have a bright future. This is a factory I visited which has one of the 5 traditional looms in the city where there is no computer card design and two weavers work simultaneously to create these traditional fabrics. The gentleman weaving here works 10 hours a day!
Appreciate the architecture
Many of the buildings and structures in Varanasi are beautiful and have a vintage element especially around the area surrounding the ghats. This one is right behind the ghats and it is impossible not to see the beautiful intricate wood carvings here!
Life on the bylanes behind the Ghats
Just like the action is on the ghats, there is a bustling scene being played out in the tiny alleys and lanes behind the ghats. Sample some of this here:
Sample local food
Varanasi has a whole range of local food that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. So whether it is lassi with malai (cream) and fruit, a range of desserts (think Lal Peda, Banarasi Kalakand, Rabri) or chaat (Tikki , Dahi-Puri, Pani Puri and Tamatar Chaat), there is much to for the foodie in you. Try the famed Kachori & Subzi Kachori with Jalebi at Sri Ram Bhandar and you will come back for more. Other stuff like Varanasi ka Chai & Malai Toast, Litti-Chokha, Aloo Papad and Paan Banaras also need to be sampled.
There is so much to see here and so many memories from the city that you must visit to experience. Signing off with this image of the ghats – Varanasi will have an undeniable impact on you – go there.