Travel bug is gnawing at you? Get hit by a mesmerizing spectacle of the timeless city of Banaras/Kashi (present day Varanasi) – the Center of Hindu Universe. While the city has different names to it; the city itself doesn’t know how old it is.
Banaras is hailed as the place of Lord Shiva; having added a spiritual dimension to the already beautiful city, the Ganges itself allures us to visit this enchanting city. Let’s begin our one day trail in Banaras city.
At the pre- dawn, time stands still and yet that lulling intonation of the lapping waters of the Ganges is a heavenly treat. Sit down and let your mind take in the most wonderful hour of the dawn unfold before you. The inner peace that you’ll experience at this time just can’t be described in words.
After taking in the breathtaking sunrise views, you can’t miss the opportunity of having a dip in the Ganges. It is said that a dip here cleanses your sins and you attain nirvana (eternal heavenly bliss). You can have a laze away boat ride and take up the sights of the banks. Get down on the other side of the bank and go to the Malviya Bridge. Not only the view is breath-taking; the bridge also marks the end point of the inner circle of the holy city. That’s why you’ll find many homeless people there – who have made the bridge their home – who think they will die and attain salvation here. You can return in the boat to the ghat from here.
Slacken your pace and have a masala chai – you aren’t going anywhere without this morning cuppa. Breakfast can be indulged with yummy kachoris at the exclusive kachori gali.
Visit the famous Ghats and let the splashing waves of the Ganges work your mind into meditative stupor. Begin your journey with Panchganga Ghats where the 5 rivers meet, moving on to the Manikarnika ghat where people do the last rites of their loved ones to enable them to get moksha. After this find your way to the most spectacular of all 84 ghats – the Kedar Ghat; made colorful with stripes and a hub of bathers. It is also a photographer’s favourite point).
A lunch break is a must to recharge the energy. Indulge in the banarasi khana (distinctively cooked with asafoetida, ginger, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and/or dried fenugreek leaves). Do not miss the Dum Aloo! It is surprisingly different from the Kashmiri version that we usually eat. Stuffed and cooked in a gravy that is infused with jaggery, fennel, and chili paste this is delight!
While you are on a religious circuit, indulge into history too! Visit to the Chunar Fort, standing proud for more than 2,000 years and the Ramnagar Fort (built opposite Tulsi Ghat by King Kashi in 1750 in Mughal style) can’t be ignored.
Evenings are fun times to shop. Varanasi is famous for its fine silk; especially the Banarasi sarees. In the winding lanes of banaras, you can haggle with the shopkeepers for your shopping treats.
“The Bed” is a small shop that looks lost in the by lanes but houses excellent Silk and Pashmina products
You can also indulge in good block printing stuffs with contemporary feel to them at Pratha
Soon the lights will be on… so do rush to the Dasaswamedh Ghat, where the large evening aarti ceremony gives a magical touch to the city. This spectacular event definitely gives you those goosebumps and leaves you completely altered in spirit.
Dinner time again! What will you have? There are lots of food items to try out. But don’t forget to have those frothy lassis, sweetmeats (have milk based ‘malaiyo’ in winters) rounded off by the famous banarasi paan which has a special melt in mouth maghai leaf.
Before you even realize; the day has ended… but the spirit of the banaras is forever etched in the heart. That’s the wonderfully packaged Banaras Trail for you! Want to keep the experience alive? Indulge in a beautiful book “The Last Color” by Michelin Chef Vikas Khanna. You can watch the recently released movie too by the same name.