Picturesquely situated on the crescent shaped left bank of the holy River Ganges, the legendary city of Varanasi (also called Benares or Kashi) is called the ‘oldest living city’ and is one of the ancient seats of learning, culture, and the arts, in India. For centuries, Varanasi has been one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindus, drawing millions of devout pilgrims every year.
The aarati (a ritual of worship in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (clarified butter) ceremony in the evening, on the ghats (flights of steps leading down to the River) is a marvellous sight and experience. The ambience is one of brilliantly lit oil lamps, singing of bhajans (devotional songs), the mesmeric clanging of bells, and priests performing the rituals for the pooja (worship) – set against the stunning backdrop of a Ganges sunset.
An early morning boat ride on the River will take you past banks studded with ghats and temples standing beautiful. Your moment of pure joy however, is when you see the first ray of light as the sun rises from the eastern bank of the Ganges, colouring everything it touches a magical golden. Witness the incredible sight of thousands of devotees, who bathe in the holy river in the hope of attaining nirvana (salvation).
The spectacular 18th century Ramnagar Fort on the east bank is best appreciated from a boat, as it stands directly on the River. You can also disembark and enter the Fort. The Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum (inside the Banaras Hindu University) houses ancient sculptures and is a treasure trove of the city’s history.
Holxo Tours in Varanasi