The ancient city of Varanasi is the spiritual beating
heart of India, set on the banks of the river Ganges in Uttar
Pradesh. This is the city of life and death, one of the oldest
inhabited cities in the world and the abode of Lord Shiva (one of
the most powerful Hindu Gods). For centuries Varanasi has been
attracting intrepid travellers keen to understand the traditions
and faith of this complex culture.
"Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even
than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together" -
Witness the daily ebb and flow of the Hindu pilgrims as they
make the holy journey to wash away their sins and cremate their
loved ones in the river of salvation, the holy Ganges.
As dusk descends, experience the evening Aarti (holy ritual),
when the Hindu priests descend on the holy Ganges for the evening
prayers. Watch as the river is set on fire as a million
little diyas (prayer lamps) are set adrift on the Ganges,
making the journey from one world into the next.
In this city that never sleeps it is imperative to witness at
least one golden dawn aboard a simple rowing boat. Watch the
honeyed light slowly embraces the river, its embankments, and the
surrounding lopsided temples. Drift by the ghats where the saffron
robed Brahmin priests, men and women are all immersed in the
rituals of this sacred city.
Wonder the lively narrow lanes and visit the many colourful
temples, guest houses and stalls peddling local arts and
crafts, spices and world famous silks. Just 10km outside the city,
lies the Buddhist site of Sarnath where Lord Buddha is believed to
have given his very first sermon.