Varanasi was never in the list of cities that I wanted to travel to. Mainly cause I did my Engineering in the lap of Haridwar, my college was literally an hour away from Haridwar making it our weekend goto destination and also making Rishikesh a quarterly travel spot. So its natural that I got pretty saturated with Ghats and Aartis and also the delicacies served around the ghats. Now my travel list had places from Shimla and Manali to Goa and Pondicherry (pretty basic but was exotic for me at the time 😀 ).
Varanasi travel happened by chance, when one of my very dear friends planned to get married there. And up until the moment I reached there I was pretty clear that I have to attend the wedding and get back but I realised the moment I set foot in the city that I made a mistake, I should have stayed a few days longer. Yes, it is like Haridwar and Rishikesh in many many ways, a city spread on the banks of a holy river with ample Ghats and delicious local food all around. The aroma of agarbattis and food and cow dung in the air, the sound of river flowing, birds and temple bells amidst the chaos of the crowd.
Yes I had seen a part of Varanasi before, but that a just a part and there was so much more to Varanasi to explore. For the 2 days that I was there, I was busy enjoying the wedding functions but I had to take a few hour out to witness the famous evening Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat. Now Varanasi is rightly known as the city of Ghats as it has not 10, not 50 but 88 Ghats, What!!!!!!! Located close to Vishwanath Temple, this is probably the most spectacular of all the ghats.
I really enjoyed the sunset stroll, soaking in the details around me, talking to the Sadhus who narrated multiple stories of the river Ganga and the ghat. As per Hindu mythology Lord Brahma sacrificed ten horses, during Dasa-Ashwamedha yajna performed here. And a group of priests daily perform “Agni Pooja” (Worship to Fire) in the evening at this ghat making a dedication to Lord Shiva, River Ganges, Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire), and the whole universe.
The evening was absolutely soul touching and left me longing for more. I was so so happy that I decided to get out of the hotel and soak in the liveliness of Varanasi. As sunset got close people in boats flocked towards the ghat to witness the Aarti. The pandits prepped with great detail every minute detail that was about to happen. There were locals, tourists, kids and foreigners alike waiting to witness a grand Aarti and it was nothing short of spellbound.