The city of Varanasi enjoys the metaphor of being the country’s ‘religious’ as well as ‘cultural’ capital. Spirituality and throbbing physical aspects beautifully fuse at Varanasi to give the city its most unique charm. The city is often looked upon as the ‘Moksha Dwar’ by the Hindus as it is believed that one who dies in Varanasi is sure to get Moksha. But despite being an ideal land to die on, Varanasi’s bustling bazaars, crowded alleys and crowded Ghats impact the city with a full-blooded, throbbing and pulsating character. Some come to Varanasi to get spiritual salvation while some come for spiritual enlightenment and these two aspects can be reached only if you undertake the various activities available at near hand when you are in Varanasi. Read on to learn about the Top activities in Varanasi that you could indulge in-
Exploring the Varanasi Temples
Varanasi can rightly be termed as the ‘city of temples’. Each lane or lane crossing of Varanasi is graced with a temple. Also, the city is home to some very ancient and magnificent shrines such as the Kashi Vishwanath temple, Durga temple, Sankat Mochan temple, Nepali temple etc. Thus, exploring these big and small temples of Varanasi is one activity you could indulge in when you are at Varanasi.
Viewing the Divine Evening Aarti
The sight of evening Aarti at Varanasi is indeed one of the most splendid sights and you would definitely cherish the experience all through life. During the Aarti Diyas are lit up, large Jyotis are kindled and the fragrance and scented smoke from the incense sticks fill the air. The Aarti continues for nearly 45 minutes and priests attired in identical garments; i.e. same colored dhoti and Kurta keep chanting the holy mantras as they perform the Aarti. You need to be at the Dasaswamedh Ghat an hour ahead of the scheduled Aarti time so as to be able to view the Aarti in the best possible way. During the Aarti the river gets an enchanting, shimmering and shining look as thousands of Diyas start floating on its surface…
Boat Ride in River Ganges
Boat ride in river Ganges either at dawn or dusk is one thing you must not forget to do while you are at Varanasi. The boat ride takes you along all the famous Ghats as well as monuments standing on the river bank and is perhaps one of the best ways to gather a quintessential experience of the city. During these boat rides, the vividly changing colors, as well as unique clamor of the city, would surely fascinate you.
Bathing in the Holy Ganges
Taking a holy bath in the sacred and mystical river the Ganges is said to purify one’s soul and pave the way for his or her salvation or Moksha. Thus visitors to Varanasi make sure to grab this glorious opportunity to take a holy dip into the river Ganges. The city has as many as 84 Ghats and the Ghats have steps that lead down to River Ganges. One can easily climb down these steps to reach the holy Ganges for their holy bath or dip.
Street Shopping at Varanasi
Varanasi has some incredible shopping places where real incredible items like fine Banarasi silk, glass ornaments, ornate ethnic pieces of jewelry, handcrafted shawls, carpets, God and Goddesses figurines, copperware, brassware, stone inlay work materials and many other such enticing tit bits are available. Thus, don’t forget to explore the bustling shopping places of Varanasi such as Godowlia, Vishwanath Gali, Chowk, Thatheri bazar.
Exploring the Famous Varanasi Ghats
Varanasi is especially known for its innumerable Ghats and each of these Ghats is associated with numerous spiritual, mythical and historical tales. These Ghats have raised masonry platforms with staircases along the river banks of the Ganges. Strolling around the Ghats of Varanasi is one of the chief activities you could indulge. From the Ghats, you could catch a panoramic view of the flowing Ganges. Also, you could watch the various Hindu rituals performed day in and out at the Ghats by priests and pilgrims. Among these Ghats, there are prayer Ghats, bathing Ghats as well as cremation Ghats. Some of the most notable Ghats of Varanasi are Dasaswamedh Ghat, Lolita Ghat, Munshi Ghat, Harishchandra Ghat, Assi Ghat, Mata Anandamayi Ghat, and Scindia Ghat.
Street Strolling at Varanasi
Navigating through the typical labyrinth lanes of Varanasi will fascinate you with its unique old world charm. The lanes are narrow and one lane leads to the other creating a meshwork like a pattern. A stroll through these lanes you may come across many street shops, vendors, small temples, eating outlets, guest houses and much more.
Performing Last Rites of Ancestors
Most pious Hindus wish to breathe their last in Varanasi so that their souls can attain Moksha or salvation. To fulfill their last wish often their successors get them cremated at Varanasi followed by an Asthi Visarjan into the waters of the Ganges. If the cremation ceremony is already completed, then they come to Varanasi at least for the Pind Daan ceremony of their ancestors. So, this is again one thing you could do when you are at Varanasi.