Call it Kashi, Varanasi or Benaras ... it remains the same ... crazy ... captivating ... endlessly fascinating ... and holy ... One of the oldest surviving cities in the world- Varanasi is defined and protected by the rivers Varuna and Asi. These rivers prevent the evil from entering the holy city! Varanasi then was an important religious city surrounded by the complex Hindu mythological legends ... later became hub for foreign tourists ... the recent popularity being the general elections ... Yeah! In future, it will be a "smart city" of India!? I am in Varanasi. Actually, my trip is to Kashi- The city from where one makes the final crossing to the far shore!
Kashi- which means 'the luminous', the abode of Shiva on earth is very different. Usually in India, the cremation grounds are located outside of the cities/towns because they are considered to be polluted. In Kashi, the city itself has evolved around the cremation ground! And these cremation grounds are considered holy! People come here to die, because by dying here one gets liberated from the cycle of samsara (life and death). The thick dark smoke of the cremation pyres rises heavenward as the spires of the hundreds of temples watch while the ashes of the dead flow through the river of life- Ganga.
As I got off the train and stepped my foot on the land of modern Varanasi I was greeted by a mob of autorikshaw, taxi drivers and touts. Somehowo, I survived the show and reached the old city and was gripped by its spell. As I mentioned earlier, my visit is to Kashi- where one feels the presence of divine everywhere. I came here to pray for my beloved Father. To visit the Kashi Vishwanath temple which is one of the Twelve Jyotirlingas, and the Annapurna Temple- one of the 51 shaktipeethas where Devi Sati's left hand is believed to be fallen. Hence in my articles, I would like to mention most of the things that I saw and experienced beyond the vision of my eyes. The city I felt by the soul not judged by my mind.
Today as I wandered in bewilderment on the streets and lanes of this spiritual capital of India, I started thinking ... as much I see there is more to see, as much I find there are more hidden temples to be visited, as much I understand there is more to interpret, how much time I need for this endless spiritual journey? ... Is Varanasi is a living text of Hinduism? Hinduism is not a religion- it is a lifestyle, are Hindus living it?
-- End of Day-1 --
Other articles on Varanasi-
Experiencing the Ghats!
Kashi as I saw, a photo tour
One evening on Harishchandra Ghat
The popular Ganga Arti
Canines of Kashi
Tales of Ancient temples
Excursions from Varanasi
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Backpacking India Part III- Classic Pilgrimage
Backpacking India Part II- A Parallel Journey
If you want pictures please ask me :)
Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.