Varanasi: Chaotic. Colourful. Crammed

14th Jun 2014

A city of life and death has a lot to offer if you do your research well. History and adages looms at large in the crammed streets of Varanasi. Indulge in the ancient Indian traditions of escaping the birth and death cycle and what you should never forget is: A day without a Benarasi Paan throughout your whole stay is a sin, a sin that even the sacred river can't help to wash. 

You just can't miss this especially during winters. History looms at large throughout the excavation campus. You can see the Ashokan Pillar which once towered the campus and supported our National Emblem. The Archaeological Survey of India's musueum is breathtaking. It houses the National Emblem and the Chakra in their pristine and untouched form. I dare you not to miss this one.
Not much far from the hustle of the city as old as a vedic adage, Ramnagar Fort is located in a place called Ramnagar. You can easily reserve an auto-rickshaw near the Benaras Hindu University main gate. The ride is bumpy and if you are travelling during the dry months, don't forget to cover your face and nose to keep away the dust. It's around a 40 minutes journey before the vehicle stops in front of the large gate of the Ramnagar Fort. The entry fee is nominal and there's loads on the offer. Housing an old Cadillac and other Rajput vehicles, the fort never misses to surprise. You won't believe your eyes when you lay your eyes on more than thousand types of duel guns and other priceless pieces of history. And in the end the journey will be worth it.
Varanasi has more than 100 ghats and if you are planning to see them all start with this in the evening. Walk through the ghats that lay adjacent to each other and connected with stone pathways. It's best to take the tour after 6 in the evening as the ghats look spectacular during this time of the day. The graffitis are bold and won't fail to amaze you. It's around a 3.2 Km walk from the Assi ghat to the Dasashwamedh ghat and wont take more than 2 hours. Walk through the burning ghat and the Kedar ghat before you finally reach the Dasashwamedh ghat.
The evening aarti is magnificent. Period. Make sure to reach the ghat as early as 4.30 pm as it fills quick. The aarti begins after the sunset so if you are visiting during the winter months you might like to reach even earlier. Most auto-rickshaws will take you no nearer than the Dasashwamedh More, around 500 meters from the ghat. After the aarti, as you return to board an auto, indulge in the sinful concotion called the Varanasi Thandai near the more adjacent to the famous bengali eatery Jolojog. The thandai is served with or without cannabis and both the versions cost the same. Now, you know why it's better to take the path of sin and dive into the world of ecstasy with the Benarasi Thandai.