Varanasi - Raw and Rooted!

Photo of Varanasi - Raw and Rooted! 1/9 by Ruchita Katiyar
Photo of Varanasi - Raw and Rooted! 2/9 by Ruchita Katiyar
Photo of Varanasi - Raw and Rooted! 3/9 by Ruchita Katiyar
Durga Mata Mandir
Photo of Varanasi - Raw and Rooted! 4/9 by Ruchita Katiyar
Photo of Varanasi - Raw and Rooted! 5/9 by Ruchita Katiyar
Sunrise at Ganga Ghat
Photo of Varanasi - Raw and Rooted! 6/9 by Ruchita Katiyar
Photo of Varanasi - Raw and Rooted! 7/9 by Ruchita Katiyar
Photo of Varanasi - Raw and Rooted! 8/9 by Ruchita Katiyar

Varanasi - A place that frames images of spirituality before your eyes. I had always been curious to visit this place as it carried memories of my parent's college life and the initial pink days of their marriage. To see them relive those memories was beautiful but when this city grew on me, It was bliss! 

Photo of Varanasi - Raw and Rooted! 9/9 by Ruchita Katiyar

Myriad shades of wishes, colors, people, beliefs and faith is the essence of this place. You are magically at peace even in between the endless hustle of the mysterious lanes. It's amazing how it embraces all the 3 phases of life -  birth, life and death. Roots of Indian culture firmly binds this city, its people and helps it stay raw!

In my 3 day trip, I explored Benaras inside out. So here are a few places that I visited and captured through the aperture.

P.S - My favorite observation - The rickshaw and taxi drivers here can't do without chatting with the passengers. The conversations are epic. One shall remember it forever!

We kick started our trip with some history revision at Sarnath- the birth place of Buddhism. It is a treat to watch the huge statue of Lord Buddha, made of 280 stones, at the Thai temple. Its premises also has a replica of our national emblem - Ashoka Pillar. Bang opposite to this temple is the museum which has wonderfully restored remains of Sarnath Stupa. Hats off to the Archaeological Dept. of India. The museum welcomes you with the original Ashoka pillar, which leaves one awestruck. The carvings and photo gallery here is class apart. Right beside is the Stupa, which I personally term as 'Broken Beauty'. The incompleteness of its architecture makes it complete.
Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Ruchita Katiyar
Our next stop was Ramnagar Fort. This fort's architecture is simple and aesthetic. Its artifacts showcases the entire timeline of 'Benarasi' culture. The Vintage cars and carts, the apparels, the arms and ammunition - everything was archaic! I loved a clock here, which showed the position of the sun, moon and details of a zodiac sign. Truly awesome! Ask someone for the famous lassi shop around. Do not miss it! :)
Photo of Ramnagar Fort, Ram nagar, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Ruchita Katiyar
We ended our day one by sitting at the Assi ghat around sunset. This ghat was less crowded and gave a spectacular view of the Ganga. The swaying boats, little children playing around, pandits making preparation for the evening Aarti and some people just sitting in peace, watching the sunset shades on the waters of Ganga. I witnessed the evening Ganga aarti here. Words fall less to describe the feelings a human goes through while watching it. The chants, lights, energy and vibes changes something in you which is inexplicable. It surely killed all the tiredness of the day!
Photo of Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Ruchita Katiyar
Next morning, we started off with watching the sunrise at the most popular ghat of Varanasi - Dashaswamedh! We got there pretty early. There were still stars in the sky and the horizon was gradually changing its colours. When the rays hit the holy waters of Ganga, it shimmered red. The sadhu's chanted mantras while offering 'Arg' to 'Surya Devta'. Naga baba's stood up and played 'dambroo' in full swing. Bells rang around and a bunch of people took a dip in the pious Ganga. I had never seen the sun being welcomed with such warmth and energy! Once I filled my eyes enough with the scenic sunrise, we moved to visit the 'Kashi Vishwanath' temple. The lane which leads to this temple is interestingly dark. Children carried snakes in their hand asking for money. A widowed old lady held my hand here and wished that I get a good husband. I felt ironically yet genuinely blessed! The temple structure is ancient and is cracked at places with withered off gold! Faith can be smelled in the air here!
Photo of Dashaswamedh Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Ruchita Katiyar
In the evening, we took a boat ride to the other side of Ganga from Dr. Rajendra Prasad Ghat. The view of endless ghats, from amidst the river is breathtaking. It looks like a painters colour palette. I stepped out on the bank of the river, took a handful of 'Gangajal' and sprinkled it over my head. I don't know if a handful of water can wash ones sins, but the belief that it shall cleanse your soul, surely fills one's throat. After this we rode across the length of the river to see all the ghats. Some had people leaving the wish 'deep' for a good life and on the contrary some had cremation ceremony going on. The cycle of life could be seen meters away!
Photo of Dr. Rajendra Prasad Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Bangali Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Ruchita Katiyar
Final day of the trip, we went to BHU - one of the most prestigious institute of our country. The campus is beautiful and youngsters add more life to this place. It has a Vishwanath temple inside, with a peaceful garden. I spotted students studying in its premises. The outlets right at the entrance of this temple serve delicious cold coffee and mango shake! We also visited other famous local temples close to the campus - 'Sankat Mochan' Hanuman mandir, Durga Mata mandir and Manas mandir. I was amazed to see the entire 'Ramayana' engraved on the walls of Manas temple! Do not miss to have 'Banarasi Meetha paan'. Also, do have the famous sweet 'Launglata' and lassi at the store - 'Pehelvaan launglata and lassi wale' in Lanka. The smell and taste of mud oozed out of a 'kulhad' tantalizes ones taste buds. Foodgasm at its peak! ;) My Varanasi diary comes to an end here. Enjoy mystical Banaras!
Photo of Banaras Hindu University Campus, Banaras Hindu University Campus, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005, India by Ruchita Katiyar