"Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together" ....so said Mark Twain about Benaras, the city of illumines truth. My recent trip was in this old city last weak as the weather remains charming in the month of February. we journeyed about 500 km to reach Varanasi Jn station (from Durgapur, West Bengal). It was an over-night journey. By 10 am in the next morning we reached Benaras and stepped into the guest house which was booked already. It is noteworthy that the hotels and guest houses located near Godwalia (city center) to Daswashwamedh ghat are the best places to stay for enjoying the real charm of Benaras. It'll cost Rs 500-2000 for one night stay with all modern and basic amenities. I must say that the stays in Benaras are very special because of their excellent service provided at a very resonable cost as compared to other cities in India. The first thing we did in that evening was a boat ride in the mighty Ganges and observed "Arati" ( prayer to Mother Ganga and Viswanath with illuminated sticks, candles, flowers and many more with continuous chanting of slokas from Vedas) in the Daswashamedh ghat. this wonderful atmosphere would make you believe that 'religious feelings reigns supreme and no sensual thought ever seems to assail these beauteous mingled form'. We journeyed from Godwalia to Sarnath (10 km away from Varanasi) in the very next morning. It is the ancient deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dhamma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment. Another interesting spot in sarnath is the Chaukhandi Stupa, the spot where the Buddha met his first disciples, dating back to the fifth century or earlier and later enhanced by the addition of an octagonal tower of Islamic origin. If you are a budget traveler, we may opt for an auto-ride in Benaras for sight seeing. It would change Rs 1000-1100 for a package tour including Sarnath. That evening, we were out for the best attraction of Benaras, i.e the Kashi Viswanath temple. Viswanath, meaning the Lord of the World is considered as one of the 'Joytirlinga' (divine part of lord Shiva according to Hindu Mythology) among the twelve 'Joytirlinga's located in different part of India. Pay your offerings with flowers and milk. In the next morning, it was time to visit the local temples including Sankatmochon, Durga temple and Tulsi Manas Mandir. Tulsi Manas mandir is the place where Poet Tulsi Das wrote 'Ramcharitmanas' in Awodhi dialect of Hindi language. The last day in Benaras glided by very soon and the we had to leave for Benaras in the evening. Some more places were there to visit but time passed away in super sonic speed and the last moments reminded me the files on the table in my office which were in 'pending work' status. well, another visit in this holy city would enable me to cover all those unseen places. At the end of this article I'm providing some tips which may be helpful for the new visitors:
As it is an very old city, the roads are narrow and crowded. One should be a little careful while walking
Always bargain with the auto or car drivers and shop owners.
Malai milk, Rubri and Pan are the specialty of Benaras. Don't forget to taste those.
Hand looms and Sarees are famous in Benaras.
Be aware of dishonest Sadhus walking roadside.
This in in brief a small description for 3 days long Benaras trip. Now, come and fathom out the roots of Indian cultures which lies in the ghats and galis of Benaras.