It’s been 20 years since I am living in this Holy city and every year has been magical! Varanasi, Kashi, Banaras, can call by any name you want but even a shortest visit to this place can give you a lot of memories. Well mind you, that memory can be as pleasing as river Ganges or as horrible as getting robbed because Varanasi is famous for their Con men too!
Being the spiritual capital of India, you will find a worship place at every nook and corner of this city. Anyways, this is not why the city is called spiritual. Ask yourself “what does spiritual means to me?” The answer could vary among every individual. Let me give you a few instances. Does spiritual means connection with God to you, or is it love? Is it food or music? Or is it getting high on weed or simply watching a sunrise at a river bank? Your answer could be any but according to me spiritual means anything which makes you happy and keeps your soul calm. It can be visiting a temple or just have your favourite food with a bunch of friends. This city can give you anything to help your soul put back in its right place.
So the question comes from where to begin your day in Varanasi?
If you are an early bird then well and good, if not, then come on, just a day, it’ll be jolly (I promise!). Loose fitting clothes, a cap and loafers make perfect attire. Try reaching the Ganges river bank before 5 am. One bank will be long stretch of ancient monuments and temples, each having a significant history behind it. These are known as “Ganga Ghats”. The other bank you see across the river is called Ramnagar, the place where kings and queens of Varanasi used to live (Ramnagar Fort). Coming back to the Ghats, grab a cup of tea, walk till you find a quiet place on stairs to sit, take deep breath and relax. The only sound you can hear will be of the blowing wind and chirping birds and flute music if someone is playing nearby. Wait for the sunrise.
Now don’t grab your DSLR or phone to take a picture. Instead close your eyes and feel the sunrays. After all you are here for the purpose of finding your soul not to capture sunrise! You can sit for hours there if you wish to or take a boat ride across the river. I bet you must be feeling hungry. Welcome to the largest local market of Varanasi- Gadauliya! The roadside shops offer you with typical Uttar Pradesh breakfast like Chola Bhature, Samosa, Kachauri, etc. Now, if you are a religious person, then don’t miss visiting the famous Vishwanath Temple, if not then just take a tour inside Vishwanath Gali.
Personally I believe Vishwanath Gali is the most confusing network of roads, constructed ages ago and in such a way that every turn looks the same. Trust me if you are lost, not even GPS can help you, but only the localites! The funniest moment will be if you are walking and a giant bull comes in your way, rather I would say you came in his way cause he’s not going to move anywhere back, oh these narrow passages!
Let’s assume you got out of Vishwanath Gali by evening, depending on what type of person you are an enthusiastic extrovert or a self-indulging introvert, can choose your way. Well I would say if you are an extrovert should try Varanasi’s popular intoxicating drink ‘Bhang’ and spend some time with yourself and your thoughts, might find some answers within yourself. On the other hand if you are an introvert, better you go back to Ghat and prepare yourself for the grand Aarti of the river (at Dasaswamedh Ghat). It starts sharply by 7, no matter of the season. A huge crowd gathers for this and even if you are an introvert a positive vibe flows into you just by hearing the constant ringing of bells and looking at the beautiful way of tribute to Ganges, might ring a bell in your mind too. Well it’s up to you, it’s your choice where to go and what to do. Of course the entire city cannot be covered in a day!
I hope your day really ends with finding yourself, rediscovering and improving yourself. There is no particular season or time to visit Varanasi. But yeah, if you are a tourist then visiting during festival of Vijaya Dashmi and Dev Deepawali are my personal favourites. Don’t forget to indulge yourself in sweet dishes like Rabdi and Rasmalai!
This is one place in India which even if you visit alone, loneliness will never cross your path. Wish you have an amazing time and a lot of memories.