Varanasi: A city of Expecting the Unexpected
Having heard the name of BHU and Varanasi since childhood, it was somewhat destined that I would try my luck to get into this University. To my utter surprise, I got through the entrance examinations and within no time, I had started college here. It’s been now almost two years to the incident, but exploring Varanasi is still on!! Which man would resist the temptation of roaming around the oldest city of India?! The rich architecture of the Ghats and even common houses in the various streets will grab your attention. Visiting Ramnagar Fort or Sarnath will prove to be a lifetime experience, for sure.
The evenings of Varanasi have always thrilled me. It was no longer that I became a regular visitor to the Ghats- Assi and Dasashwamedh being at the top of my list. While the Sanskrit mantras, devotional songs, smells of camphor, ghee and incense thickly fill up Dasashwamedh, Assi remains quieter. The certain serene ambience of Assi just makes you sit and stare at the gradually flowing, once mighty, Ganga. The cradle to a huge civilization, The Ganga silences you and makes you think about nothing but YOU! And it does not go by saying that a cup of ‘lemon tea’ or ‘coffee’ is surely gonna be the cherry on the cake!! Sometimes, you might even hear someone singing a thumri or playing a guitar! An all-rounder these Ghats are!
Where there’s a river, there’s a boat-ride! Yes, just rent a boat from any Ghat of Varanasi, either in the morning or evening, and take a tour of all the Ghats! Behold the variety each of them holds! The fuming and intoxicating smoke rising from the creamtion grounds of Manikarnika, the Ganga Aarti of Dasaswamedh, the fort-walls and minars of Chet Singh Ghat and what not…
Deborah Cater rightly said, “You have to TASTE a culture to understand it”. And having companions, who are equally enthusiastic foodies, was a complete win-win for me. It was thus, not a long time before I had been to almost every famous restaurants and street food vendors and delved into the awesomeness of their delicacies! From the simple Chhole-Samose, Chai to (our favourite) Burger outlet, from the bestsellers of non-vegetarian dishes to the vegetarian authentic Chineses place, we had it all. And if one visits Varanasi, then he/she shouldn’t miss out on these. The coffee stalls, at Lanka especially, are a favourite of all dwelling here. Grab a plate of piping hot fried dumplings and a cold coffee (that’s the best), and you’re good to go. And how can I forget to mention the lip-smacking fruit-shakes and lassi!
As an extreme-shopper, Varanasi was a delight for me. Delectable apparels, ranging from authentic Banarasi sarees to the Silk collection for both him and her, is a common find in almost every corner of the city. Pro tip: Try shopping from the lesser known outlets, because they give you quality within budget. Obviously, there are brands with their magnificient stores scattered throughout the city! But for a completely quality-centric and budget-friendly shopping experience, one ought to visit Godowlia Or Sigra.
Varanasi is a city of the unexpected, it’s a city of surprises. You can never think of the beauty of the Ghats while going through the dingy streets. You have it all in here- the calmness and the hustle-bustle, the chaos of the common masses and the peaceful ambiences too!! It is surely gonna rejuvenate you while on a short trip, but staying here for a longer period, is going to give you a newer perspective of everything in life. I arrived at Varanasi with quite a gloomy mood, but now am shaping into it, slowly. And you can do so, as well!