The holy city of Varanasi (also known as Benares or Kashi) is a place oscillating between the real and the ethereal. Pilgrims and travellers arrive at Varanasi to wash away their sins and find their existential purpose.
The spiritual capital of India, Varanasi was founded on the banks of the holy river Ganges. Devotees from all over the world come to the famous Ghats or embankments and take the holy dip in the river and perform rituals to appease Lord Shiva and purge their sins.
The city is immersed in the philosophy of Hinduism. The narrow lanes are and the 2,000-odd temples that give Varanasi its unique identity. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the most famous tourist attraction in Varanasi.
If you are fascinated by the Hindu traditions and ideology, Varanasi is the place for you. The early morning boat rides are accompanied by esoteric conversations with spiritual gurus regarding the transient nature of life and the Hindu philosophy. At the end of the rides, your prayers are centred into a mandala and pushed along the river for fulfilment.
A photographer’s paradise, Varanasi is a colourful canvas of ancient Hindu architecture, wall motifs, vibrant flower markets, bustling street food corners, and a grand view boats plying on the Ganges just a few meters away from the sunbathed banks.
The scenic ghats also host a daily sandhya aarti (evening prayer), which is famous for being a grand spectacle. Hindu high priests perform rituals with large illuminated lamps. It’s a spellbinding sight to behold! The aarti takes an even grander look when the city observes Dev Deepavali in the month of November. The steps of all the ghats light up as over a million earthen lamps (diya).
This ancient city is the confluence centre of Hindu and Budhhist ideologies. The holy site of Sarnath, where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, is just 10 km away from Varanasi.
A unique feature of this 2,000-year-old city is its akharas (wrestling centres). Modest in the built, with just an earthen ring at the centre, the Varanasi akharas are celebrated for carrying forward the centuries-old legacy of wrestling and developing talented athletes for India.
The Varanasi street food is another special reason to visit this unique city. Some street food stalls are more than 100 years old and offer traditional Indian food.
Vue India offers private tours of Varanasi, as a part of the Golden Triangle tour, which also touches Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra. The spirituality of Varanasi is a cure for lost souls and the philosophy of life propounded by the spiritual gurus at the riverbank soothes the busiest of minds.