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DAYS AND NIGHTS IN VARANASI

Sep/01/2021 / by SUGATO MUKHERJEE
THE SPECTACULAR GANGA AARTI IS A YEAR-ROUND AFFAIR ON THE MAIN DASASWAMEDH GHAT. TRAVELERS FLOCK THERE IN THE EVENINGS FOR A GLIMPSE OF THIS VISUAL EXTRAVAGANZA
The spectacular Ganga Aarti is a year-round affair on the main Dasaswamedh Ghat. Travelers flock there in the evenings for a glimpse of this visual extravaganza.

Mark Twain famously said that Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition and even older than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together. 

More than 125 years later, nowhere is this more evident than on the uninterrupted corridor of the ghats of Varanasi, from where this ancient, yet vibrant city just spills onto the River Ganga. The holy mother river is the lifeline of the city and the extensive and continuous stretch of the riverfront with 84 ghats is where you can feel the rhythm and rhyme of Varanasi, replete with daily chores, rituals and religious ceremonies.

The intricate network of streets that meander from the riverfront steps into the deep recesses of the old city is a time-warp with its impossibly narrow alleyways flanked by centuries-old mansions. It is difficult not to feel a little lost while exploring the maze of twisting lanes slicing through the ancient neighborhoods, and often the best option could be to plant yourself in one of the streetside joints with a glass of famed Benaras lassi and feel the timeless appeal of this city, which is chaotic and serene, vibrant and soulful, all at once.

Here’s a photo essay by Sugato Mukherjee.

A YOUNG WOMAN OFFERING PRAYERS TO THE HOLY RIVER GANGA WITH A LIGHTED LAMP IN THE PRE-DAWN HOURS
A young woman offering her prayers to the holy River Ganga with a lighted lamp in the pre-dawn hours
LIFE STARTS AT 4 A.M ON THE ROADS LEADING TO THE RIVER, AND THIS YOUNG FLOWER SELLER CAN SELL HER MERCHANDISE EVEN IN THOSE WEE HOURS
Life starts at 4 a.m on the roads leading to the river, and this young flower seller can sell her merchandise even in those wee hours
SEAGULLS HOVER ABOVE THE RIVER WATERS IN THE WINTER MONTHS
Seagulls hover above the river waters in the winter months
A SLOW BOAT RIDE ON THE GANGA IN THE MELLOW MORNING LIGHT IS A GREAT WAY TO SOAK IN THE VIBE OF THIS ANCIENT CITY
A slow boat ride on the Ganga in the mellow morning light is a great way to soak in the vibe of this ancient city
A SLOW BOAT RIDE ON THE GANGA IN THE MELLOW MORNING LIGHT IS A GREAT WAY TO SOAK IN THE VIBE OF THIS ANCIENT CITY of varanasi
River Ganga is the primal life force of Varanasi, and the city’s ancient rhythm remains attuned with the great river that has shaped its cultural and religious identity
A GROUP OF YOUNG BOYS LEARNING VEDIC CHANTS ON THE RIVER BANK. STUDENTS FROM ACROSS INDIA STUDY IN VARANASI’S RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS THAT SPECIALIZE IN ANCIENT RELIGIOUS TEXTS AND SCRIPTURES
A group of young boys learning Vedic chants on the river bank. Students from across India study in Varanasi’s residential schools that specialize in ancient religious texts and scriptures
THE LABYRINTHINE LANES OFTEN THROW UP A DASH OF COLOR, AND INTIMATE, FLEETING MOMENTS
The labyrinthine lanes often throw up a dash of color, and intimate, fleeting moments
THE GHATS COME ALIVE WITH CHAOS AND COLORS DURING THE OF MYRIAD ACTIVITIES HELD THERE ROUND THE CLOCK. IT IS DRYING TIME FOR THE ELDERLY WASHERWOMAN, AND HER GRANDSON HELPS HER WITH THE DAILY CHORE
 The Varanasi ghats come alive with chaos and colors during the myriad activities held there round the clock. It is drying time for the elderly washerwoman, and her grandson helps her with the daily chore
THE MAJESTIC MANSIONS OVERLOOKING RIVER GANGA ARE AS INTERESTING FROM THE INSIDE AS FROM THE OUTSIDE, AND OFTEN ARE FILLED WITH A STORIED PAST, varanasi
The majestic mansions overlooking River Ganga are as interesting from the inside as from the outside, and often filled with a storied past
THE AGE-WORN COVERED PASSAGEWAYS THAT WANDER AWAY FROM THE GHATS CAN OFTEN LEAD YOU TO A WORLD THAT HAS REMAINED UNCHANGED OVER THE CENTURIES, varanasi
The age-worn covered passageways that wander away from the ghats can often lead you to a world that has remained unchanged over the centuries
A SOLO RECITAL OF INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC ON THE RIVERFRONT. VARANASI HAS BEEN ONE OF THE PRIME CENTERS OF INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC FOR CENTURIES
A solo recital of Indian classical music on the riverfront. Varanasi is one of the prime centers of Indian classical music for centuries