What To Do In Varanasi In 24 Hours!


Why would one go to Varanasi for a day, is what any intelligent person would ask. But someone who is impulsive and likes to grab an opportunity like someone hungry who grabs a hot bun on a whim wouldn't care for an answer. Why not, if at all, would be the answer by the one who listens to her heart.

When the train stops early morning at Varanasi Junction en route to Delhi from Calcutta, the wanderer in her wonders what'd happen if she gets off the train, tastes a bit of Varanasi and then takes the evening train, just in time to attend her friend's wedding the next day.

A ten-minute auto ride to Godowlia gives her a fair idea of what the rest of Varanasi would look like - a hazy (dust-filled air), maze of lanes and bylanes crammed with shops, bicycles and an occasional buffalo. The start to the day couldn't have been better because the kachori-subji and jalebi for breakfast at one of the many shops there hits just the right chord and she walks further into the bylanes humming 'Rang mai bhang ya, bhang mai rang, bana-rasiya'. Crossing the shops selling huge varieties of aachar and papad, she comes across this rather shabby looking lassi shop called Blue Lassi. Exorbitant rates for a glass of lassi, she thinks. But the varities are tempting, as is the urge to wash down the spicy after-taste of the breakfast. She settles for banana lassi.

Courtesy: Instagram

Photo of Godowlia, Maheshpur, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Charu Chowdhary

Ram-naam satya hai? Yes, the ultimate truth of life passes by her, when she least expects it. The lassi shop falls on the way to Manikarnika Ghat, one of the ghats where the dead are burned. Following the lot to the ghat, she realises that this is where her grandmother always wanted to breathe her last.

Smelling the camphor and sandalwood in the air, she walks some more, until the scene changes to hordes of people carrying offerings to Vishwanath Temple. People's faith and belief in the goodness of God fills her with renewed energy and she hangs around going through the artifacts up for sale in the gully. It's one of the most beautiful scarf I've seen, she muses to herself, as she lovingly tucks it away in her backpack, taking it as a present for her friend in Delhi.

Courtesy: Instagram

Photo of Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Charu Chowdhary

An auto ride of 25 minutes takes her to Banaras Hindu University, as she recalls that this is where Gandhi had given one of his most important speeches at the laying of the foundation stone of the college in 1916. Walking inside the campus, under the heavy shadow of the trees, feels like a whole new city in itself. Bustling with activity, the campus gives her a view of how cosmopolitan this ancient city is; and is thrilled to the bone as she spots people from different origins and cultures. Cold-coffee with ice-cream is something that she has a tough time resisting at the Vishwanath Temple inside the campus. It is the tastiest that she'd had. Upon asking around, she gets to know that that's one of the most famous places for hangout of the college crowd.

It takes a good 15 minutes to reach Assi Ghat on foot from the gate of BHU. Caked in dust but full of pride upon reaching successfully after asking the way every 5 minutes called for some treat. Heading to Pizzeria, an alfresco restaurant on the ghat, she orders late lunch which comprises of pizza and vanilla shake. And what a meal it is! Looking up from her plate she would meet with the stunning sight of the water and boats anchored on the ghat. She hardly knows how those two hours pass without a moment of boredom. It were the most tranquil time she'd spent lately. When the biggest surprise comes to her in the form of Ganga Aarti- it is sublime, and evokes feelings she hadn't felt before.

Courtesy: Discover India

Photo of Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Charu Chowdhary
Photo of Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Charu Chowdhary

For less than a thousand rupees she is rich with experiences galore and wonderful anecdotes that she can't wait to share with everyone and boards the evening train to Delhi!

Feeling inspired, are we?