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 which unravelled in front of me.
Varanasi is 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.
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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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 book. The architecture alongside the river is incredible, there is evidence of Muslim, Christian and Hindu influence.
Before I had travelled Varanasi I didn’t realise 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.
Travel Varanasi – The Ghats
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.
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.
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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)
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!
People of Varanasi
There is an interesting mix of different people around Varanasi – annoying touts, pilgrims, few tourist and the locals. While I travelled 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.
I met an Astrologer in Varanasi
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 mesmerising! 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.
Exploring the 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.
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. AirBNB also has some really cost effective accommodations to chose from home stays to bed and breakfast options.
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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.
Travel Varanasi and discover Meditation, Yoga and Reiki which are all practised at a higher level. If you love photography you can capture the true essence of history and heritage.
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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