In this world of fast paced lives and packed schedules, the weekend is often the only thing we have going for ourselves. We dine during the weekends, we 'go out', we visit the family and it is the weekend that we keep aside for exploration, getaways and a few minutes to ourselves. If you've been looking for the perfect weekend getaway and someplace you can hop to from Lucknow, Varanasi is exactly where you need to be.
Known for its mystic calm, its ever pulsating spiritual vibe, the energy and the vibrant aartis, Varanasi is home to some of the most immersive experiences. A short weekend in Varanasi is enough to charge your senses for quite some time and here's why you need to visit the city at least once.
Benaras, Kashi, Varanasi
Varanasi has often been associated with spiritualism, temples and ghats. Yet, Varanasi is so much more than a few temples and crammed river shores where people come to attain 'moksha'. Varanasi is a chaotic coming together of so many sublime things, that it makes the city an overwhelming experience that one can only enjoy in small doses.
Here is everything essential you need to do when in the city:
1. Morning/Evening Boat rides
Varanasi is known for the its stunning ghats; the city was planned along the shore of the mighty Ganga and it is her, so many pilgrims come here to see. Yet, the beautiful and serene river is much more stunning during the wee hours of sunrise and sunset. Arrange for a boat-ride during the two times and you'll be able to see the river in a whole new light.
Evenings are particularly stunning for boat rides, since you can have a gorgeous view of the aartis performed at the ghat.
2. Gastronomic walk down the winding lanes
As much Varanasi is famous for its temples, it is famous for its street delicacies. The 'Banaras ka paan' is a legend that lives and breathes to the day. You cannot miss out on the local street food served along the streets in the city.
A food exploration extravaganza after the boat ride would suit you well. Gorge on as many pani-puris as you feel like, have a taste of the Baba lassi, Blue Lassi corner, sample the famous chaats and delve into the realm of flavours unknown and as intricate as the city itself.
3. Witness the morning/evening aarti
Though we have mentioned that Varanasi is not just about spirituality, yet spirituality forms a major part of what Varanasi is. You cannot come to the city and miss out on the sensory overload that is the Ganga aarti. Though the aarti happens twice a day, people talk of experiencing a completely different vibe during the evening aartis.
With hundreds of lit lamps and a sense of holy in the air, the aarti will put you in a sense of calm and wonder you've never experienced before.
4. Exploring the rich traditional & street art of the city
Varanasi is a city that has had a rich and complex history and culture to its name. The art and architecture of the city, hence is extremely varied and full of intricacies you will seldom find elsewhere.
The temples stand pristine, withstanding time, rain, sun and all else, with their intricate designs and beautiful architecture while homes and crammed lanes still have a wonderful old world charm to them. But, that is not all you'll find interesting here; the walls here also have a plethora of street art, modern murals and paintings that tell the tale of a modern era.
5. Meeting all sorts of new people
Varanasi is the city that is said to purify all. Some come here to take a break from their busy lives & some to simply want to rinse away their past.
All of these people together at one place create an energy that is chaotic and yet extremely pious. Hence, 'people-watching' becomes an extremely wonderful thing here. You can meet all sorts of people who will open your mind to completely new and wonderful avenues.
6. Sitting at the ghat & reflecting about life
Varanasi is a beautiful city. The energy here is so poignant and elevated that it'll provoke you to think of things which are dark, deep and wonderful. This city also makes for a good option for solo travellers because you're truly never alone here.
Find yourself a favourite few steps along the ghat and let your mind wander or take a dip in the waters to cleanse your spirit.
Immerse yourself in everything that the city has to offer; having a spiritual experience here is a must!
7. Travelling is inexpensive & there's much to see
Of all the places you can go to from Lucknow, Varanasi is the closest and the most inexpensive. Travelling to and from the city will take only a couple hundred bucks. There are many great hotels, hostels & dorms in the city to stay at.
Visit Kashi and see for yourself what the hype around the city is all about.
Varanasi, Benaras, Kashi- whatever you deem fit to call this place, is a city very unlike any other you've ever been to. Visit the city, see the people, the temples, the ghats, the river, find about the Israelis, the foreigners, the locals, the art, the religion, the food, just explore the city and let yourself fall irrevocably in love with everything Benaras stands for.