Not very long back, when a bunch of friends were deciding on a destination for a trip, I suggested Varanasi. And back came taunts like, ‘are we taking a sanyaas?’, ‘are we saadhus?’ ‘are we old?’ Since, I had nobody on my side, convincing them was futile.
Generally, Varanasi is looked upon as a destination for parents and the old. But this misconception doesn’t allow us to explore the beauty and ancient history of the oldest city in India. A trip to Varanasi will not only rejuvenate you, but will also make you connect with your roots. Here’s why you should be packing for a trip here the next break you get!
1. Staring out over the Ganga is one of the most magnificent experiences imaginable
The best time to experience the Ganga in all its glory is at dawn or languidly over a lazy evening. If you’re too finicky about dipping in for a dive, you could at least sit by the banks and stare at its vastness.
2. The city has some of India’s most divine food
Your mornings could see a combination of crispy kachoris and piping hot jalebis for breakfast. Litti chokha and sattu parathas for lunch will likely keep you full well up to dinner. That apart, a glass of lassi can be downed at any corner of the city’s streets, although you must try the drink at a shop named Blue Lassi in Vishwanath Galli. Side note, they have 75 unique flavours to choose from! Oh and needless to say, but do not leave the city without having the famous banarasi paan.
3. It is an absolute treat for photographers with every corner offering something unique to capture
If you love photography, then the streets of Varanasi have a lot to offer. From meditating saadhus to kids taking a dip in the Ganga, you are bound to find some stunning shots to capture.
4. The city’s history is probably older than time itself, and rich beyond measure.
Mark Twain aptly described Varanasi – “Older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Varanasi is a city where history was born and time found its own roots. The city is raw and will take you by surprise with its chaotic streets and people. You’ve got to be ready to take in the ugliness and the divine to experience its true versatility.
5. Scholars freely offer lessons in the ancient language of Sanskrit
Every third person on the streets of Varanasi knows Sanskrit. Learn the sacred language and the wisdom it preaches.
6. There are around 23,000 temples in the holy city, offering more than enough space to sit and take in the quiet.
Which makes it the beating heart of Hindu culture. The serene temples have all the calm you need. Sit quietly and witness peace taking over.
7. A boat ride on the Ganga first thing in the morning is beyond magical.
Explore the divine Ganga on a boat ride, especially gorgeous at dawn or dusk. However, beware of fraud as the boatmen and rickshawallahs charge more money than the usual fare.
8. It’s amazing how beautiful authentic Banarsi silk saris are available so easily
Be sure you buy authentic Banarsi saris from Nilambari saris, Taj Estate or HM textiles. You could even find saris at Rs.75,000 that promise to burn a hole in your pocket!
9. The Ganga aarti promises to be one of those events you should attend once in a lifetime
Witness one of the oldest traditions on the banks of the river Ganga at 7 pm sharp. Incense sticks are lit, aarti singers take the stage, and camphor lit diyas light up the entire ghat. The atmosphere at the Dashashwamedh Ghat turns into a live orchestra, where pundits co-ordinate the entire aarti to perfection.