Varanasi (Banares) – city as old as time itself. A city that has stayed in place and watched as the world has turned and the tides have changed. A city that has stood the test of time for thousands of years. In the words of Mark Twain, “Older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Varanasi, the city that is more than just the spiritual capital of India. The city which can be aptly described as a melting pot where both life and death come together. The city that you only need to visit once for it to stay with you forever.
Varanasi is a very popular pilgrimage point for Hindus, and the older part of Varanasi, which has thrived on the banks of the river Ganga, is an integral part of the very infrastructure of the city, with thousands of people flocking there for salvation and purification. All chaos and noise on the ghats of Varanasi take a pause when the Ganga Aarti takes place in the evening, a ceremony of immense grandeur and opulence, with pandits lining up to perform rituals that are no less than a performance for the senses.
The city in and around the ghats has a certain rhythm to it. Narrow maze-like lanes and by-lanes arouse instant intrigue and fascination, while the street art dotting the stretch alongside the ghats makes for a great outpouring of artistic expression. Varanasi also boasts of a marvelous architectural heritage, as can be seen in the scores of temples dotting the city.
Varanasi has something to offer to everyone who visits the city – be it the clamor of the station, to navigating the mysterious alleyways, to finding serenity on the banks of the Ganges. Varanasi is India in all her glory, as it has been for thousands of years, and as it will be for a thousand more.
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