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Varanasi: A Spiritually Rich City

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''It’s a land of chaos and colors, which makes it quintessential. Ghats are a must visit.''

In the first instance it may not look very appealing but, trust me the place has variety to offer. Especially those, who take keen interest in culture, traditions and are spiritual-minded, will certainly not go disappointed. Walking through small alleys of the old town helped me know more about India and its diverse nature. Here I've chalked a few ‘must do things’ when in Varanasi to ensure you take best memories home.

LOCATION : Also known as Banaras, it’s a city by the banks of river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh state.

MUST DO : • Located by the Ganges, the city is known for its charming and soulful ghats. Go for a boat ride at dawn followed by evening aarti (offering prayers), which enlightens and makes the ghats look more beautiful.

• Also visit the ancient Vishwanath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. No mobiles and cameras allowed inside the temple. Avoid carrying leather goods too as they too are prohibited.

• Benaras Hindu University: The wide tree-lined streets and parkland of the 5sqkm campus offers a peaceful atmosphere, a world away from the city. The university campus also has an archaeological museum that houses a huge collection of painting, textiles, costumes and decorative arts.

• Ramnagar Fort is another spot for sight-seeing, which is basically the King's fort and his heir’s residence too.

• Sarnath, a Buddhist pilgrimage and heritage site, where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon. It is also home to Buddhist monasteries, an archaeological museum and huge stupas. The things excavated from the stupas are displayed in the museum. Sarnath is around 13kms from Banaras (approx). Hire a cab and cover Sarnath, BHU and Ramnagar together.

• It’s at Manikarnika Ghat or the Great Cremation Ground of the World that dead are brought to be cremated by fire, which has been burning since centuries.

• Visit Ramnagar Fort to see the royal collection of vintage cars, palkies, swords and guns.

• Worth seeing is the unique Nepali Temple for its Nepali style architecture and magnificent wood work.

SHOPPING : • As we know, Varanasi is known for its elegant and beautiful banarasi sarees. So don’t forget to shop one before leaving the city.
• The carpets produced in Varanasi region are famous too.
• Also, make a visit to Sri Gandhi Ashram Khadi for kurta-pyjamas, sarees etc.
• Mehrotra Silk Factory is famous for sarees and furnishing items and prices here are negotiable.
• Banaras art culture and art gallery is recommended for paintings and artifacts.

FOOD : There’s no dearth of eateries. One can try local food stalls around the ghats that serve kachoris, chaats, sweets and paans. There are quite a few cafes in the old city but, they are purely vegetarian.

Source / Review By : Shradha Chakravarty

Shradha is a PR professional and an avid traveller

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