Varanasi, for me, was all about its ghats. I would begin my day by going to the Ghats pre-sunrise and witness the beauty of the rising sun. I would go to the ghats for the evening aarti offered to the Ganges. And in between also, whenever I got time, I would rush straight to the ghats.
So, what made these ghats so special that it still lingers in my heart.
1. Subah-e-Banaras: Nowhere have I seen sun received with such celebration everyday as in Varanasi. Subah-e-Banaras, a pre-morning spiritual and cultural event at Assi Ghat, that includes Vedic chants, morning aarti, yoga session and soulful Indian music, takes the morning energy at an entirely different level. With tranquility & spirituality in the air, peace in the mind, and body rejuvenated by yoga, it is a very positive beginning of the day.
2. Beauty of the rising sun: The pre-dawn softness of the hues brightened up gradually by the soft gleaming rays of the sun, lightens up the Ganges waters exquisitely.You are sure to lose track of time getting entranced by the allure of the golden Ganges complemented by the giant red ball above.
3. A boat ride across the Ganges is a must-do when in Varanasi. During sunrise, the river is especially dotted with both hand-boats and motor-boats taking the visitors on a ride to witness the morning beauty of the ghats and to welcome the sun from the midst of the holy river.
4. Ghats are the best place for budding artists to come and showcase their talent. If you are in varanasi for more than 2 days, chances are high that you would be able to catch an Indian classical music or dance event at one of the ghats.
5. The young boys diving into the Ganges and flaunting their swimming prowess is sure to make you nostalgic about your own childhood. A dip is not enough for the child inside us and seeing these kids trying various stunts in the river does indeed soothe that childish spirit.
6. Varanasi is a paradise for photo-enthusiasts. Every second and every frame here is a treat to the eyes. Colorful boats, sunrise in the river, grandeur of evening aarti, floating diyas lighting up the Ganges and vivacious street life, it truly is a the place to be for all budding photographers.
7. The fishermen patiently waiting at one place for hours in order to catch some fish are bound to give you lessons on patience. A tip off: these are also the most peaceful spots to sit along the ghats and contemplate.
8. The burning ghats (Manikarnika ghat and Harishchandra ghat) at Varanasi hold special significance for the Hindu community. The bodies that are cremated are not just from Varanasi but are flown from different parts of the country owing to the religious significance of these ghats.However, these ghats can be distrubing for some people as these are connected with intimate moments of birth and death.
A note of advice: Visitors are strictly advised against clicking of photos at these Burning ghats as a show of respect for the dead.
9. Along some corner of the ghat, there would always be the music of a flute being played. Ghats are the best place for music learners to come play their instrument of choice and for listeners to get lost in the beauty of their music.
10. Hindu community has some festival almost every other day in their religious calendar. The significance of these festivals is to give an excuse to the followers to celebrate the zest of life and this is best captured in Varanasi. The energy of the local folks involved in the preparations of the festivity is contagious. Soon the energy would get to you and you would be more than enthusiastic and become a part of the preparations yourself. Dev Deepawali was one such festival about which I did not know before landing in Varanasi. And once at the ghats, the energy was too intense to be missed.