So couple of months back, I had gone to Kashi (Varanasi or Banaras or Benaras) with few of my friends. We had to attend a wedding in Allahabad and then headed to Kashi for the weekend. Although I must say, 2 days in Kashi is nothing. If I get another chance I would spend at least a week in there.
From Allahabad we took a bus to Kashi. It took close to 5 hours to reach there. By the time we reached the sun was setting and it was beautiful. We stayed at an Airbnb house not so far from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. As it was a tiring day didn’t do much in the evening. So for dinner we went to a restaurant close by and for the rest of the evening I enjoyed the view of the city from the balcony of the house. The city is so lit at night that any big city will fail to match up to its beauty.
Day 2 was all about food, visiting Kashi Vishwanath Temple and the Ganga Ghats. So we started our day with the delicious Banarasi breakfast. Typical kachori and aloo sabzi, Poori and channe ki sabzi with banarasi lassi. By the way let me tell you it was very filling. After breakfast we headed to the temple which is on the Dashwamedha ghat, when we reached we found out that they had stopped the entry due to Arati. So we went and sat on the ghat and guess what found a babaji with chillum. After sometime the entry began, we headed to the temple. Needless to say it was very crowded. There were lot of pushing and stamping on each others feet, after all the struggle when the time came for the darshan I forgot everything. The vibe was so dope inside the temple that I got lost. I felt so blessed to have come all the way for this and it was all worth it. Even though we were out of the temple I was still drooling over the vibes I picked up from there. Now I know why the city is so vibrant and tranced. The temple is in the heart of the city which gives it a hypnotic vibe. As if I was half conscious and didn’t want to come out of it.
Evening we went on a boat ride on the Ganges which was mesmerising. Kashi has at least 84 ghats. Dashwamedha ghat being the most re-nowned one as the Kashi Vishwanath temple is on this particular ghat. Ghats are the most re-nowned embarkment in Kashi. As it represents both physical and supernatural element. Where few ghats are for ritual bathing and Hindu Puja others are for Hindu cremation. Every ghat has it’s own story and significance. We spotted an Aghori baba meditating on the bank of the river. Aghoris are the Shiva sadhus who are indulged in the post-mortem rituals. They are known for their healing power. They seem to have a cure for all the ailments of the human race. They also feed on the human corpse and known to be the toughest humans on earth who survive in the worse weather condition. They meditate in the cremation ground when the world goes to sleep. While on the boat ride we saw a corpse of little girl in the river. Some believe that Ganga is the pathway to heaven so they cremate the bodies on the ghats and some just leave the body in the water. Ganga water is the most purest form of water as it is always flowing. The thing about the water of this river is no matter for how long you keep it in a bottle it does not go bad. It is holy and seem to remove negative energy from our body. The best part about the evening boat ride is we got to witness the famous Ganga Arati from the other side of the bank. Words fall short to describe the experience of Ganga Arati. It was breathtaking. I got goose bumps during the Arati. That was the second time I was tranced. That’s why there are people who once came to Kashi could never leave it. The city binds you in its hypnotic vibes and you never want to leave it.
As much holistic is the vibe of the city being on the banks of the sacred Ganga, the food is equally amazing. Kashi is known for its street food especially the chaats and dahi bhalle and golgappe and malai based sweets and of course bhaang. There is a food street right outside the temple. In this street you get dahi bhalle made out of chenna (cheese curd) and thandai (beverage) mixed with bhaang. Kashi chaat centre is one of the oldest chaat corners in Kashi and the varieties of chaats they offer even a Michelin star restaurant will fail to serve. Be it taste, flavours, colours or varieties there’s no comparison. When it comes to Banaras, paan is one of the things you don’t want to miss out on. They say the betel leaves of Banaras has a different taste than any other around the world which gives banarasi paan its unique taste and flavour. A big fold of pan rich in different flavours fill up your mouth and gives you a never ending munching experience. Disclaimer: It is not for people with small mouth.
Third day started little late as our flight to Bangalore was in the evening so we had to finish up packing and check out of the Airbnb house. So then late afternoon we went to Sarnath. Sarnath is located on the north-west part of Kashi. After attaining enlightenment the Buddha gave his first sermon in Sarnath to his five companions. The place is beautiful and very peaceful. The day we visited Sarnath it was Buddha Poornima. The holy day was celebrated as birthday of the Buddha. Inside the main temple nobody was allowed to speak as the monks had taken vow of silence for the auspicious day. So the guide explained everything outside the temple after the darshan. If you are lost and need to be at peace this is one of the best places to just sit down and enjoy your own company. Outside the temple gate there was a small shop set up where they were selling banarasi bags and other home decors. Bags were the highlight of this shop. Banaras is known for its banarasi sarees. Although sarees were really expensive I picked up few bags for my family and friends.
After Sarnath I had to catch my flight back to Banglore but I knew deep within it was not it and I will be back again to plunge myself in the vibes of the ethereal Kashi.