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The Spiritual Heart of India

World’s oldest living city, Varanasi – also known as Kashi (City of Life) and Benaras, is the spiritual capital of India. It is one of Hinduism’s seven holy cities. The old city of Varanasi lies along the western banks of the Ganges, spread across a labyrinth of narrow galis. Be prepared to walk on foot and encounter some holy cows! Temples at almost every turn engulf Varanasi but the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most visited and the oldest of the lot. Benaras is known as the city of Lord Shiva for a reason, and rightfully so.

Varanasi is considered an auspicious place to die, as it is believed to grant moksha or liberation from the cycle of life and death. One of the city’s most iconic features are the 80 ghats along the Ganges, where daily life unfolds against the backdrop of rituals, ceremonies, and spiritual practices. Dashashwamedh Ghat, the main ghat, witnesses the mesmerizing Ganga Aarti, a captivating ritual where priests offer prayers to the river with the rhythmic movement of lamps, fire, and chants. The boat ride along the Ganges during sunrise or sunset provides a serene and immersive experience, allowing visitors to witness the city’s timeless beauty.

The narrow winding lanes of Varanasi, known as galis, house numerous shrines, shops, and eateries, creating a maze that leads to hidden gems like the historic Sarnath, where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon. The city is a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds during festivals, especially during Diwali and Holi. The vibrant ghats, adorned with thousands of diyas (lamps) during Diwali, create a mesmerizing spectacle. Varanasi’s local markets, such as the Vishwanath Gali and Thatheri Bazaar, offer an array of handcrafted silk, brassware, and traditional Banarasi sarees.

The best time to visit Varanasi is during the winter months (October to March), when the weather is pleasant, and the city is vibrant with festivals and cultural events.


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