Why I Love To Hate Varanasi

Photo of Why I Love To Hate Varanasi 1/4 by bhavani
Photo of Why I Love To Hate Varanasi 2/4 by bhavani
Photo of Why I Love To Hate Varanasi 3/4 by bhavani
Photo of Why I Love To Hate Varanasi 4/4 by bhavani

I love Varanasi. And at the same time, I hate Varanasi. Read no further if you cannot understand this emotion and if you think you feel the same, continue. 

Varanasi startles each of my senses every time I visit and it always takes a little time getting used to the city. From the loud, incessant horns and the clanging temple bells to the dung-lined lanes with beggars, from the street dogs fighting over strewn wrappers and garbage, to the picturesque lanes leading to the ghats and the Ganga. I don’t understand it. I always wonder why people in this city don’t seem to care about this filth that surrounds them. It is not as if they do not know how to care, they are so devoted in faith and belief in God.

Varanasi is one of the most filthy cities I have been to. And to make matters worse, hoards of pilgrims come in everyday and they couldn’t care less about a city that is not their home. No one seems to care- all they want is to leave a bit of themselves behind, don’t they? This belief that the Ganga purifies the soul also seems to translate to more tangible things like garbage and sewage- ‘the mighty Ganga will clean that up too’- seems to be the popular belief! 

This is the holiest city in India and we still couldn't care one bit. This is the holiest river in India and we dump more and more garbage into her. After three days, I was on my way back home and I was seated next to two Israelis, a father and daughter. Towards the end of our conversation, the father asked me, “Do you Indians like dirt? Because Benares is so dirty but everyone seems fine with it.” 

I hate you Varanasi because you worship the Ganga, you call her Gangaji, you believe she can give you moksha and yet, you treat her like a garbage dump.

This trip was originally published on Merry to go around.