Mystical Banaras!

Banaras (now known as Varanasi) as a city, although a little congested, is quite mystical. I visited the city in February, 2017 and was quite charmed by its beauty. Here is why…

The city supposedly has 88 ghats (an area with steps which lead to a river bank) all situated next to each other on the banks of the river Ganga.  Each one of them has a history and mythical tales related to it.

My parents and I reached Banaras on a Friday afternoon and then visited the Dashashwamedha Ghat (the main ghat in Banaras) to experience the evening aarti. Though the aarti usually starts at around 6.45 every evening (it also depends on the time of sunset), one should ideally reach there at least half an hour earlier to ensure a comfortable spot to get a closer view of the mesmerizing aarti. You can also opt for a boat ride half an hour before the rituals start to get a glimpse of the neighboring ghats and to witness the aarti (which usually lasts for around 45 minutes) from the boat. The view is exhilarating. We were so charmed by the evening aarti that we decided to attend the morning (before sunrise) aarti too the very next day. And I’m so glad we decided to do so. The ghat got its name ‘Assi’ (as in the number 80 in Hindi) as it is the 80th ghat in Banaras. When we reached at 5 in the morning, we saw a smaller crowd (in comparison to the evening aarti crowd) and we were mighty pleased. We got the best views and could move around easily to click pictures.

What we did next was the highlight of the trip – we decided to go for a boat ride! We settled for a one hour ride starting from Assi Ghat to Dashashwamedha Ghat. On our way there we crossed many other ghats. Our boatman was quite chatty and shared with us a lot of information. We crossed the Chet Singh Ghat which looked like a fort. It looked quite different from the other ghats we crossed. We could see the sunrise from the boat and the view was heavenly!

After the boat ride we got down at the Dashashwamedha Ghat and headed for the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The narrow lanes at the Ghat led us to the temple. The darshan took us around 40 minutes as there were quite a few devotees waiting for their turn. We went back to our hotel to catch up on some sleep after a consuming morning.

Now that we were done with the major sight-seeing (we also visited Sarnath and Banaras Hindu University the next day), it was time for shopping for the much-popular Banarasi sarees and duppattas. While we did a lot of window shopping in the main market areas, our driver took us to this industrial area where there were many wholesalers selling Banarasi duppattas and sarees where there was a lot more variety and cheaper options. You may want to bargain at some of these places. I also checked with the shopkeepers if we can visit the factory, and much to my delight, we were taken to one of them! Artisans sat there patiently working on the sarees.

Banaras city
Dhamek Stupa

After the half day indulgence in shopping we left for Delhi!

Suddymoody quick facts:

  • Banarasi sarees are obviously made in Banaras. Banarasi sarees are made with a lot of silk and heaps of skill. But these days you can also find Banarasi embroidery on other fabrics too. It’s about the style of weaving. So don’t be surprised next time if the shopkeeper shows off an Organza Banarasi saari.
  • Depending on the intricacy, one Banarasi saari may take an artisan almost 15 days to a month at least to complete.
  • A Bengali bride generally wears a red/maroon Banarasi saari on the day of the wedding.
  • You will find that a lot of people in Banaras are Bengalis or can speak Bengali. Supposedly the city is also known as a mini-Bengal.
  • Masaan – a Bollywood movie (released in 2015) which received international appreciation too was based and shot in Banaras. The movie captures the city’s essence beautifully.
  • Do try the street food and famous Banarasi paan.
  • Banaras has also been a home to many widows who have been abandoned by their families. They come to the Holy city to attain moksha (or because they have nowhere else to go). Most of them are left to beg for their daily food.

The first 6 months of marriage!!

Disclaimer 1: Resemblance to any person, living or dead or to any actual events is purely coincidental 😉

I am choosing June to write this blog post because this is supposedly not the wedding season and my post would hopefully not directly or indirectly influence people who want to get married immediately ;-).

To begin, till the time you decide to get married you will meet all kinds of people who would tell you the pros and cons of getting married. People will tell you why it is absolutely necessary for you to get married. You will also meet people, albeit few, who will tell you that you can enjoy your life even if you choose not to get married. Finally, with a lot of help from your friends and family you decide that you want to bell the cat and get married. And then, you look forward to the ‘D-day’ and try and enjoy the customs and traditions, as much as you can. While all this happens, and before you realize it, you are married!!!

black chimpanzee smiling
Yayy you are married!!!

Months 1 & 2 (or as people would say, the ‘honeymoon phase’) – It’s all new and you are excited to experience it all. It’s a different feeling. You are trying to understand a lot of things at one go. There is too much buzz around you which doesn’t allow you to analyse things/situations. You come across to people as this very happy bride/groom who has always wanted to get married.

adorable animal blur breed

But wait…

Months 3 & 4 (I call it the ‘happy realization phase’ ;-)) – This is the time when the husband and the wife start doing ‘real’ things together – like grocery shopping, and taking decisions about regular stuff at home. And that’s when you start realizing that you are two different people, with different opinions, likes and dislikes etc. You realize that you are two different individuals with very different styles of dealing with issues and situations and it’s not as if the person can change overnight. In the first few months you are this very positive and ‘in love’ partner who only notices and focuses more on the likes, the similarities, and love… And during this phase you realize that managing a marriage is not an easy task. Sigh!!

blue geeen and orange parrot
Ooops we are two different personalities!

Month 5 (the real battle starts, and hence I call it the ‘bull fight phase’) – By the time you reach the fifth month you are over analyzing everything! You sometimes feel that’s it not easy remaining married and you want to just leave everything (and go to the Himalayas maybe). You are mostly at loggerheads with your partner. Neither of you wants to give in. So, you may as well, hold on and enjoy the bull fight!! Because winning this match sets the tone for the rest of your married life ;-).  Most of the times however, it’s a tie with either/both partners flying the peace flag.

brown bull on green glass field under grey and blue cloudy sky
Ready for the fight!

Month 6 (the ‘time-out phase’) – Hurray!!! You are about to cross an important milestone in your married life! By the time you reach the sixth month you are dead-tired with all the over-analysis and bull-fights. You now want to rest a bit and get ready for the next six months before you reach your second and possibly the most important milestone of your life ;-). You are also now aware of the likes and dislikes of your partner and hence you try and be reasonable (possibly because you want the same favour back sometime ;-)). My advice would be to…rest as much as you can, and get ready for the next phase but don’t you quit!!! It’s a fun game after allJ.

Disclaimer 2: The blog post is not intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments. Please feel free to comment or just join in to have a chat!