A few days ago, I brought you with me to Varanasi to discover the incredible Ganges ablutions, Varanasi prayers and the ceremonies that explain why Hindu pilgrims want to die in this holy city. The week I spent there has been incredible in so many ways. So let me walk with you today (with many photos), through the streets of Varanasi, from sunrise to sunset.
When you wake up at 5 a.m. to see the ablutions in the Ganges and end your day by Puja, the ceremony to offer Light to the river, you are anchoring your day with two spiritual and profound events that allow you to tolerate the intense streets of Varanasi; streets filled with cows (and cow manure), garbage, people, incense and the humid hot air of the monsoon.
But even those factors are not enough to dissipate the permanent feeling that this place is very holy, has always been, and will ever be. Watching a Guru meditating at sunrise is forever spectacular…
The name Varanasi comes from two rivers which meet the Ganges here, the Varuna and the Assi. We are 800 km from Delhi, in the middle of Northern India. The original name of the city was Kashi (a name coming from the first and most sacred book for Hindus, the Veda) which means the “place which attracts everybody.” This is definitely a feeling you have when you arrive with all the families, gurus, Brahmans, pilgrims, tourists, gathering in the Chowk (the old city) on the Ganges bank.
Varanasi is also the city of Silk. Most silk is produced far from Varanasi but transformed in one of many ateliers in the city. I think the most fun experience I had was with Papu, my colorful Hindu friend, owner of a silk shop, in the tiny streets of the old city.
To get there you need first to lose yourself. It is almost impossible to find your way amidst the hundreds of small streets, all packed with people, as well as cows! Often Large bulls are often laying on the ground blocking foot traffic and since cows are holy, you don’t kick them or scream at them to move, you just find another way!
And getting yourself lost in the streets often allows you to discover beautiful old trees trying to overtake a temple, or to pass by colorful walls and sleepy dogs…
Before ending the day, I would often sit on the bank and watch the life on the river.
I have a full photo album of Varanasi here, if you would like to come discover them and travel with me.
I felt like time had stopped when I was in Varanasi, and I feel like going back soon one day, just to sit on the bank of the Ganges.
“There are cities, like Varanasi, which are still so imbedded with prayers, that despite the invasion of the modern skepticism, we feel more than anywhere else liberated from our physical condition and closer to the infinite.” - Pierre Loti
Thank you for reading this post, and don’t forget to travel with your Heart,
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