Varanasi India – The Spiritual Capital | Dev Deepawali
Hindus live to die in Varanasi India. The most sacred place for devout Hindus and followers of Hinduism, Varanasi is everything you’ve ever heard, seen and envisaged about India.
It is mystical, it’s spiritual, it’s colourful, it’s chaotic, it’s cacophonous and yet Varanasi India survives, and survives gracefully, like it is doing for hundreds of years, as the world’s oldest continually inhabited city.
Acclaimed the world over as the city of ghats for its proximity to the sacrosanct river Ganges, Varanasi or Banaras or Kashi is forever crowded and swarming with residents, tourists and devotees. If this happens to be your first visit to India, be prepared for a delightful culture shock of matching steps with countless heads and feet in such a minuscule perimeter. Yes, Varanasi, India is a minuscule India.
The spectacular Dashashwamedh Ghat is perhaps the most famous of legendary Varanasi India ghats. Other equally blessed river banks (ghats) include Assi Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Tulsi Ghat, Lalita Ghat and Maan-Mandir Ghat. Watching intimate Hindu rituals of birth and death at any of the 87 Varanasi ghats is as mesmerizing an experience as you can expect to catch a glimpse of in your lifetime.
One of the exciting new Holiday Travel to India Companies, Holxo Holidays has meticulously curated the best experiences you can expect at the 3 most popular Varanasi India Ghats. Here is the list you can follow and make the most of your time in Varanasi.
Assi Ghat: Arguably among the favourites of locals and travellers alike, Assi Ghat marks the traditional southern boundary of the city.
One of the cleanest river fronts, Assi Ghat is a visual spectacle worth losing your sleep over. Arrive here at 4.30 in the morning for a mesmerizing view of the river Ganges as the sun rises majestically. The morning Aarti makes the ambience absolutely riveting and spiritual even for non-Hindus. Immerse your soul into it not for religious purposes but as an experience for your inner self.
Don’t forget the Kulhad Chai (hot masala tea served in earthen pots) that will transport you to the heart of India’s hinterland.If you’re not a morning person, sunsets are as gripping at Assi Ghat – perhaps more what with the Sandhya Aarti of the river Ganges. The sight of large diyas, sounds of zealous temple bells and smell of incense all around will seize you in a trance and you may find yourself answering the tough questions of survival and being.
Assi Ghat, Varanasi India has a number of restaurants serving practically every kind of world cuisine. Have a hearty meal before you retire to your room.
Dashashwamedh Ghat: The Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi India is closer to the world famous Vishwanath Temple than any other bank of Ganges – one of the major reasons it welcomes more visitors than other ghats in Varanasi.
The evening or Sandhya Aarti here is a dazzling daily affair, and attracts all kinds of people during that time. Take care of your belongings and yourself from the infamous thugs here. There are a number of tourist traps, so if somebody tries to be over-friendly or too eager to help; trust your instincts more than his or her words.A boat ride in the river is a great idea for a panoramic view of the city from a vantage point. The boat-driver can also act as your guide as he probably knows the city of Varanasi India better than most of us.
Manikarnika Ghat: The place where Hindus believe salvation is just a flame away.
Recognized as the place where an eternal flame welcomes those who want to light the fires for cremation of dead bodies. Legends have it that cremating dead Hindus here results in the soul transcending the body to attain salvation and reach heaven.
Be prepared for strong smells and stranger sights, as well as con artists beseeching you to pay just 1000 rupees for buying wood for poor who cannot afford it. If you’re really feeling munificent, go to the office of the ghat, make your donation and take a receipt.
Varanasi, India is magic on steroids. And the sights, sounds and smells on the ghats can be intense on the soul of an unsuspecting tourist. Nevertheless, the staggering visuals of sunrise and sunset from a pretentiously artistic boat in the heart of Ganges and a reflective leisurely walk in the city’s ancient alleyways is cathartic to the soul.
The captivating Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat every evening at 7 PM is one event that should unquestionably be among your top 3 must-dos in Varanasi. The transcendent confluence of incense, colours, music, flowers, and flames is a breathtaking picturesque delight. Take an extra battery or a power bank along.
We highly recommend you to plan a visit to Varanasi around Diwali (aka Deepawali) or Dev Diwali.
Dev Diwali or Diwali of the Gods
Varanasi India is the only place in the world where Diwali is celebrated twice in a calendar year.
Dev Diwali falls around a fortnight after Diwali, according to Hindu calendars. Kartik Amavasya (New Moon Day in the month of Kartik) is earmarked for Diwali every year while Dev Diwali is designated Kartik Purnima (Full Moon Day in the month of Kartik.)
This year, Dev Diwali shall be celebrated on Kartik Purnima, November 29, 2020.
Varanasi India, the city of temples transforms into a lively city of glittering lights around this period. The animated city is dazzlingly lit up with traditional earthen lamps and contemporary LED lights. All the riverbanks or ghats are tastefully embellished with flowers, lamps and festoons.
But the absolute feast for eyes is the breathtaking view of tens of thousands of earthen lamps serenely floating in the river Ganges.
Diwali also offers you the exciting opportunity of taking part in various cultural programs, classical music concerts, exquisite artistic displays, and even martial arts displays in Varanasi India.
Dev Diwali celebrations commenced barely a quarter of a century ago, yet it has become the biggest festival of Varanasi – probably the only time of the year when tourists outnumber devotees at the bursting Varanasi Ghats.
If you’re discovering Dev Diwali and Varanasi together, plan your time to behold the special Ganga Aarti for the festival. It is a riveting episode that celebrates the arrival of Gods on the day of Diwali. Gear up to be hypnotized by the spiritual occasion.
Ganga Aarti on Dev Deepawali is the culmination of 4 days of fervent festivities that begin on Ekadashi (11th day of New Moon.)
Ganga Aarti is a definition in extravagant festivities as it celebrates awakening of Gods after 15 days. I strongly recommend you outline your India or Varanasi course around the unforgettable Ganga Aarti on Dev Diwali. Try to spend at least 4 days here- from Ekadashi to Purnima in the month of Kartik. The dates to mark for a visit this year are November 8- November 12, 2019.
Avoid disappointment of last-minute non-availability; make your move early or ask a trustworthy travel friend like Holxo Holidays to organize things for you.
If you’re coming from outside India, be prepared for unwanted attention – yes, fair skin is revered here and if it comes with a foreign accent, more the vindication for the infamous Banarasi charlatans to swindle a few dollars more.
Look for an eatery that seems crowded, and ask the shopkeeper for help; they are most likely to offer authentic advice for their business reputation is a stake. The crowded street food stalls and little shops with scores of hungry souls outside should be your reference to ask for help.
If you’re not really a slapdash backpacker, a reliable travel company like Holxo Holidays and their travel experts can plan a memorable holiday in India for you.