Travel Varanasi – City Of Many Gods

I had always wanted to explore and travel Varanasi! After a 16 hour train ride from Goa I finally arrived!  I stepped onto a platform and into a whole another world, regarded as the spiritual capital of India, an ancient city dated back to the 11th century BC.  I couldn’t believe I was finally going to get to explore Varanasi.

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THE GANGES RIVER

From the very beginning I could feel it was a very sacred place and there was a mysterious energy that stirred.  Varanasi has over 2000 temples and home of the Ganges River which runs along side the city.  The Ganges river is also known as the “holy river”.  It plays an important roll to the Hindu community as it believed to come straight from heaven to earth.

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Amazing architecture along the Ganges River

STREETS FROM A FAIRY TALE

The streets along the river are stoned and narrow, lined with ox carts, old bicycles and enchanting doors – It looked like the streets came straight out of a fairy tale.  The architecture alongside the river is incredible, there is evidence of Muslim, Christian and Hindu influence.

Before I had traveled Varanasi I didn’t realize that the city is a photographers dream!  You get to capture a space in time that doesn’t look like it changed in centuries.  Once you start moving away from the river the calm becomes rippled with a busy city life.

THE GHATS IN VARANASI

Varanasi is known as one of the oldest and holiest cities in the world, pilgrims line up to the Ghats to wash away their sins or throw their loves ones cremated ashes into the holy water for assured rebirth.  The Ghats are a series of stairs which runs down to the waters edge and plays an important roll in rituals of both life and death.  Many of the rituals take place in public.

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Sometimes bodies are burned in open ceremonies, however its important to keep an open mind and realize that these practices have been around for centuries.  Yes! –  During my Varanasi travel adventures I witnessed some of  these ceremonies, if it’s a part of your belief system or if even if you just a little curious its quite an experience.

SUNRISE ALONG THE GANGES RIVER

You have to witness a perfect red sunrise on a boat along the Ganges river and watch as the water and the sky becomes one. (Even if it means getting up in the freezing cold in January)

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The famous Red Sunrise in the winter months

The sunrise draws lots of tourist so rather hire a private wooden boat, with a personal tour from one the locals which takes you from one side of the Ghat to the other.  Don’t forget your camera – I had an opportunity to take some amazing photographs from the boat!

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View of Varanasi from the wooden boat

THE PEOPLE OF VARANASI

There is an interesting mix of different people around Varanasi – annoying touts, pilgrims, few tourist and the locals.  While I traveled Varanasi I also noticed a few Sadhus these holy men are fascinating!  Sadhus renounce all their material possessions in search for spiritual liberation.  They are wanderers layered in orange cloth and prayer beads.  Hindus see Sadhus as gods representatives, which makes them well respected.  Sadhus are often seen perched high along the Ganges river towers, often meditating or playing the Indian flute.

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Sadhu perched on tower

AN ASTROLOGER IN VARANSI

Walking along the Ghats, I met an astrologer which was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life!  I followed him up a few stairs to his small private shrine. (A cement statue of Ganesha surrounded with flowers and bowl of sweet rice)  He asked me to stare deep into his eyes – it was mesmerizing!  The anticipation was soon tamed as I floated away in his hypnotic glance.  He looked straight into my soul and told me things about myself that only I could ever have known.  He gave me a tails man for good luck, some wise words and then sent me on my way.

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EXPLORING TOWN

I hired a driver into town, wandered through two different Buddhist temples and was also taken to a silk merchant.

Speaking English in northern India becomes a bit sketchy but a cup of chai broke the ice and the negotiations on price started.  I walked away with a variety of pure silk shawls which made the perfect gifts from India for friends at home.

SHIVA GANGES VIEW GUEST HOUSE

During my travels to Varanasi I stayed at the Shiva Ganges View Guest House which had the real “unique India” feeling to it.  The guest house is situated on the waters edge at the Mansarovar Ghat, making it an experience on its own.

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 Every morning I was woken by a man playing the Indian flute outside my window.  I could hear each note as they floated across the still water and dissipated into the mist on the other side.

TRAVEL VARANASI: THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

Its a pity that I couldn’t stay in Varanasi longer but my journey had to continue. I walked away from  Varanasi with a feeling in my heart that I simply cant put into words.  If you are on a spiritual journey this is probably one of those mystical places that help you find some of the answers that you seek, leaving a permanent imprint in your heart.  Hopefully I will get to travel Varanasi again on one of my future journeys to India.

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 Travel Varanasi and discover Meditation, Yoga and Reiki which are all practiced at a higher level.   If you love photography you can capture the true essence of history and heritage.

I paid for all my travels to Varanasi out of my own pocket, as always views are my own.

Have you been to Travel Varanasi in India? Drop us a comment below and tell us what has been your most memorable moment? 

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Liza W

Born in South Africa, fascinated with culture and loves wood fire pizza.
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away” Follow me on twitter: @soul_drifters

33 thoughts on “Travel Varanasi – City Of Many Gods

  • July 5, 2017 at 10:46 pm
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    I was a bit shocked when reading about the open ceremonies. It must’ve been quite an experience for you!! But I guess that’s what traveling teaches you to do – be open-minded and appreciate foreign culture 🙂

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    • July 6, 2017 at 1:02 pm
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      Hi Jas, I truly believe that to have the full experience of a place its important to learn and respect its culture. I learnt so much in India, thank you for reading.

      Reply
  • July 5, 2017 at 5:38 pm
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    wow 16 hour train in India seems challenging! I would love to read about it , But looks like it was worth it! Your photos looks so amazing! Your so right its a photographers dream

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    • July 6, 2017 at 12:59 pm
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      Hi Ada, yes the train ride was challenging : ) but its all part of the journey. I wish i had the camera i have now to take pictures but its just another reason to go back!

      Reply
  • July 5, 2017 at 5:26 pm
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    Wow, your photos are so lovely, I feel like I’ve been there myself now. Although I’m guessing that I’d have to go there to get the spiritual experience. It must have been amazing.

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    • July 6, 2017 at 12:57 pm
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      Hi Katherine,

      Thank you for reading, glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  • July 5, 2017 at 5:17 pm
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    Glad you enjoyed the ancient city of Varanasi.Did you get to see an evening aarati (prayer) at the Ganges?

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    • July 6, 2017 at 12:51 pm
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      Hi Paroma,
      Yes, i was there for the evening prayer the energy was something else! Thank you for reading

      Reply
  • July 5, 2017 at 5:15 pm
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    India is on my immediate bucket list! Thanks for sharing, it looks amazing!

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    • July 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm
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      Hi Hannah, glad to hear that India is on your bucket list, keep an open mind and open heart and you will love it! So much so see and do.

      Reply
  • July 5, 2017 at 4:57 pm
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    Wow, this looks like a life changing trip. Very different from anywhere I have ever visited. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

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    • July 6, 2017 at 12:47 pm
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      Thank you Christine its great to visit new places.

      Reply
  • July 5, 2017 at 4:57 pm
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    Oh my God! This is from my country and an absolute favorite! This is an ancient city and the wevws are pretty famous from here. You know I will be wearing a benarasi saree when I will get married! I loved the blog. Visiting this place this winter. Will look forward!

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    • July 6, 2017 at 12:46 pm
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      Wow Madhurima, I really hope you enjoy your time there like I did. Thank you for reading.

      Reply
  • July 5, 2017 at 4:48 pm
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    Great post, really took me there, the pics are amazing, and the description of the place!
    I have read of this ritual, I would really like to visit India, Specially the ganges, and witness this incredible tradition.

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    • July 6, 2017 at 12:45 pm
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      Hi Esther, Thank you India has tought me so much about the world and my own life. You must go its a life changing experience in so many ways.

      Reply
  • July 5, 2017 at 4:37 pm
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    Wow, what an interesting place to visit! So unusual! But so nice to see – that’s the point of all of us sharing our travels, as bloggers we have to open our minds to new places! Great blog post!

    P.s. I was also born in SA! 🙂

    Reply
    • July 6, 2017 at 12:42 pm
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      Greetings fellow South African, Thank you for your comment, so glad you liked it!

      Reply
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