5 Amazing Antique Stores in India

Antiques, those rugged pieces of things from a bygone era. The times we live in is influenced by the materials we use. So, every century has an intrinsic feature symbolizing the imprint of that age. These imprints become a timeless classic as they age. Antiques are these timeless classics lying over for decades. It can be anything from artworks like embroidered carpets to sculptures to paintings to daily utensils. A thing of the past which is of valuable importance in this age. As these antiques impart an aesthetic value to our daily live, it is often associated with a sophisticated form of living. A mark of the elite and rich people. Though, there are some passionate old souls who look for the historic value and collect antiques but still this antique market is driven by the lifestyle choice of the rich.

India with its diverse forms of arts and utilities has a vast range of antiques. It might be regarded as an antique collector’s paradise. Here, in this part of the world, the market is thronged by antique products. However, some of the antique stores enjoy a greater footprint than others. Here, we are describing 5 such antique shops of India.

Heritage Arts Antique Store of Cochin, Kerala

antique store cochin

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A unique antique stored set up in 1989. These stores truly depict its passion for antique things. This can be easily recognized by its rustic fervour and the range of products out there on display. Not only do they sell different antique products life old wooden furniture, sculptures, paintings, carpets and other utensils they also have a museum themed restaurant. In the restaurant, one gets to dine amongst old heritage ambience. The retail brand also has a spice shop which sells authentic fresh spices and flavours.

To know more about Kerala, see: https://footlooseforever.com/2017/01/23/why-kerala-is-really-gods-own-country/

Mayur Arts in Udaipur, Rajasthan

mayur arts udaipur, antique store

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One of the oldest stores in India, this prestigious antique store is a gem in the collector’s circuit.  The shop came about in the year 1978. The products sold here boasts of the rich Mughal and Pathan heritage. The items sold are genuine and one of a kind, almost all of them are meticulously curated by the shop owner Hemant Periwal. Apart from the usual wooden, brass and metallic artifacts, the shops sell royal treasures like pichharis and miniature paintings from the Mughal era.

To know more about tourist destinations in Rajasthan, check out: http://www.transindiatravels.com/rajasthan/tourist-places-to-visit-in-rajasthan/

Russel Exchange of Calcutta, West Bengal

The first and the foremost antique shop of India came up in the City of Joy, Calcutta. This is an old school antique store founded as early as 1940. It is a well-known auction house with a recognition predating the foundation of independent India. The owners of this shop Arshad and Saleem makes sure about its inclusiveness even in this changing time. The vitality of this shop is its versatile list of items. The lists literally have everything under the sun, from colonial furniture, Mughal paintings, gramophones to carpets and chandeliers. One can even get hold of rare clothing and books here.

Suman’s Exchange of Calcutta, West Bengal

antique store, calcutta, kolkata

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Another old antique shop having a successful run since decades. This one too is situated on Russel Street. However, it is relatively new (venturing into the market in late 1972) than Russel Exchange. The shop is thronged by common people, collectors, historians, students all alike. It has a range of artifacts, old school furniture, clothing, sculptures and paintings which are sold at the weekly Sunday auction.

Geethanjali In Pondicherry

pondicherry antique store

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An art within an art. This is what you will feel if you visit Geenthanjali antique store in Pondicherry. The store is housed in a 19th-century French mansion. How cool is that! The collectible items include a range of artifacts from southern Indian. It has beautiful Tanjore paintings, wooden furniture, brass and metallic objects, lavish wooden doors, oleographs made by Ravi Varma, four poster beds and other valuable items.

If you plan to visit Pondicherry, make your itinerary accordingly: http://www.transindiatravels.com/pondicherry/10-places-to-visit-in-pondicherry/

Overall, these places offer quite an exquisite experience to collectors. Don’t miss an opportunity to grasp those rare collectibles. Hurry up and head to the next auction.



A Guest Post by Rohit

Rohit Agarwal is a passionate traveller and writer who shares his experiences on TransIndiaTravels.com from his many travelling excursions and expeditions of around the world.

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Experience the Myriad Hues of India in 15 Days

dal lake, kashmir

To pack countless cultures and innumerable landscapes within the confines of a 15-day journey is an incredibly challenging yet exciting task. India is a land of diversity, whether it is the languages that people speak or the clothes that they wear. Each corner of this vibrant nation tints your experiences a different colour. With such a fantastic range of experiences that you can immerse yourself into, India forms an absolute paradise for someone who yearns for travelling. In order to truly understand the richness of India’s cultural and natural wealth, you need to acquaint yourself with all the four directions India’s limbs stretch towards. Fully explore all the myriad hues of India by visiting these 5 places, for a period of 3 days, to fulfill your travel appetite in 15 days.

1. Serene Srinagar

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Dal lake, Photo by confused_me, CC0 1.0

Beginning from the north, your exploration of India is incomplete without visiting this epitome of natural beauty. Srinagar, an absolute paradise, is the most tranquil, breathtaking and magical place in India. It offers the perfect combination of architectural feats, cultural vibrancy and nature’s stroke of artistry. Start your journey by visiting the glistening Dal Lake, an iconic attraction of this place. Beam with joy while cruising on Shikaras in its evergreen waters. You can also visit the nearby Shalimar Bagh, an exquisite garden with Mughal designs. Other places that would leave you in awe are the Pari Mahal, the wilderness of Dachigam National Park and the Shankaracharya temple.

2. Regal Jaipur

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Hawa mahal, Photo by Barthwo, CC0 1.0

The pink city of Jaipur offers a grand insight into the country’s astounding palaces, forts, and beautiful architectures. The local markets bustling with colorful skirts, blouses, and mirror-work kurtas are a feast for your eyes and your shopaholic soul. Hawa Mahal is one of the must-visits in Jaipur when you find yourself in this glorious town. Built with the ancient wisdom of science, the palace offers cool breeze to its inhabitants all year round. Another mesmerizing sight in Jaipur is the Amer Palace. Gigantic gates with intricate artwork greet you at the entrance, followed by a huge wealth of paintings, murals, and regal interiors. Other places of interest here are the Abhaneri step-well and Jal Mahal.

3. Grand Agra

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Taj mahal, Photo by TLSPAMG, CC0 1.0

India’s entry into the Seven Wonders of the World has been enabled by the presence of one eternal monument in the city of Agra. To visit India without seeing the grandeur and splendor of the Taj Mahal might be a huge loss for any traveler. Even an initial glimpse of this white edifice is enough to blow your breath away. Emanating a romantic aura from the bygone era, the Taj Mahal is a concrete legend of the power of love. Another beautiful sight to visit in Agra is Akbar’s tomb, Sikandra. Resonating Hindu, Muslim and Christian architecture, visiting the tomb of the greatest Emperor of the Mughal Empire is a truly inspiring experience.

4. Relaxing Komarkum

houseboat-2052738_1920Photo by ravishahi, CC0 1.0

Kerala forms the rejuvenating leg of your thrilling journey. And the scenic beauty of this state is captured beautifully by the backwaters in Kumarakom. The never-ending queues of coconut trees and a rich fauna make Kumarakom an ideal place to unwind, and at the same time be in awe of its natural charms. The most unforgettable experience that you can gain from your visit here is undoubtedly the houseboat cruise. Delightful houses offering different levels of luxuries, you can lie down in its bed while watching the water recede from your window, lulling you into a soothing sleep. Another place to visit in Kumarakom is a bird sanctuary housing varied species of colorful birds.

5. Pristine North East

13681664874_e6cb539b0b_bPhoto by Stefan Krasowski, CC BY 2.0

Two places that can give you a flavor of India’s north-eastern heritage are Assam and Sikkim. Sikkim, with its lofty mountains and pleasant climate, is the personification of the ultimate hill station. You can visit the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary where the endangered and delightful red pandas await your presence. The Lake Tsongmo is an exquisite frozen lake that is a true treasure of India, one you must visit in Sikkim. Assam is another such state which offers to its guests the majestic sights of the one-horned rhinos and Majuli, which is the largest river island in the world.

The amount of variety offered by less than 10 places in India can be extrapolated to predict the multiplicity of experiences that await you in more than thousand such places. Catch a glimpse of this kaleidoscopic country by exploring these five places that exemplify to the best of their ability all that India has to offer.


A Guest Post by Rohit

Rohit Agarwal is a passionate traveller and writer who shares his experiences on TransIndiaTravels.com from his many travelling excursions and expeditions of around the world.
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The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Fun at Zero Point

zero point, sikkim, himalayas

The sight of snow covered lands, playing with snow, throwing snowballs to each other – all of these are so much fun!

Well, if you are from the colder countries, you may not understand the zeal and excitement, as it is a common thing you see in every winter. However, people like me, who belong to India, a tropical country, don’t get to see snow unless we travel to the Himalayan region in the north.

These pictures are from my trip to Zero Point, North Sikkim, (14000 ft above the sea level) where snow reigns throughout the year. You see… kids and adults, both were having great fun in the snow. 🙂

zero point, yumthung, sikkim, snow

zero point, sikkim, himalayas, snow

Published in response to The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Fun.
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A Short Trip to Namchi, South Sikkim: Traveler’s Diary

Namchi, Valley, Sikkim, South Sikkim
Namchi Valley

Namchi is the capital town of the district of South Sikkim. Nestled in the lap of Himalayan mountain range, at an altitude of 1315 meter, Namchi is known for its natural beauty. As we planned for a weekend short trip that summer we chose Namchi for its breathtaking scenic beauty and comparatively less crowd than other hill stations. We went off the beat by choosing Pipalay, an unspoilt mountain village located in proximity to the town of Namchi.

Where to Stay

River Ringit, Namchi, Sikkim, South Sikkim
River Ringit, Namchi

Not so known and not so developed Pipalay is a wonderful place to stay if you are fond of majestic mountains, rippling rivers and fountains and lush greenery.  A small cottage surrounded by tall Shaal trees on the bank of gushing river Ringit was our abode during the short trip. The view of the mountains and the river right through the cottage window is simply amazing. The sound of the river amplified by the silence of the mountains all around makes you feel in harmony with nature. In the night flood light from Rothak Power station on the other side of Ringit created a magical aura.

Namchi, Rock Garden, Sikkim, Namchi Sightseeing
View from Namchi Rock Garden

As you search over internet you’ll find some standard hotels in Namchi. These hotels are mostly located in the township of Namchi. Though they do not promise high standard of service and wide range of amenities they surely offer cozy and comfortable accommodation. But for a completely unique experience I recommend Shephard’s Vacation Home (Ph: 09002503151) where we stayed for 3 days and 2 nights.

 

Shephard's Vacation Home, Namchi Hotel, Hotel in Namchi, South Sikkim
The cottage on the banks of River Ringit

How to Get There

We reached New Jalpaiguri early in the morning (7 am). Darjeeling Mail was right on time. However, there are other trains like Kanchanjanga Express, Testa Torsa Exp, etc.

We took breakfast in the railway canteen and then started for Namchi at about 9 o’clock. The hotel’s car was waiting outside the station. It took nearly 3 hours (by car) to reach Jorethang, the nearest commercial and transport hub. From Jorethang we took right turn towards Namchi.

It took 20 minutes more to reach to Rothak Power Station on Ringit. The hotel’s car could not go further as the only way to reach the cottage on the other side was a narrow, hanging bridge made of wooden boards some of which were missing along the way allowing through holes scary glimpse of the wild streams running some 40 feet below my feet.

The bridge on River Ringit, Namchi, Sikkim
The bridge on River Ringit will take you to the cottage

What to See

The scenic beauty of the place itself is a treat to the eyes. But there are some other things to see as well. Even though ours was a very short trip the owner of the hotel planned our itinerary in a way so that we don’t miss the main attractions of the place. The next morning of our arrival we started for Namchi sightseeing.

Padmasambhava, Samdruptse, Ravlong Monastery, Samdruptse, Namchi Sightseeing, Sikkim
Padmasambhava, Samdruptse monastery, Namchi

Samdruptse

Our first destination was the Buddhist shrine of Samdruptse. The awe inspiring 45m high statue of Guru Padmasambhava watching over the hills is a must see. Inside the temple below peace and quiet prevail all around. The place is dotted with manicured plants and blossoms to add to the beauty and serenity of the place.

 

Namchi Rock Garden, Namchi Sightseeing, South Sikkim
Namchi Rock Garden

Namchi Rock Garden

On our way back we stopped at the Namchi Rock Garden. It is actually a view-point from where you get awesome view of the surrounding mountain range. The blue-green mountain wearing a veil of mist – the spiral roads carved along the green slopes – smoke coming out from small cottages down the mountain village – all contribute to form a beautiful landscape to watch at from the Rock Garden.

Namchi Bazar

After spending half-an-hour enjoying the scenic beauty we started towards Namchi town. We made our way through the bustling Namchi Bazar (town’s market). Local men and women wearing multicolored costumes, hues of fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers in the market make it a vibrant place. We reached the plaza in the center of the town. The commercial hub of Namchi town is a well planned and nicely decorated plaza housing shopping arcade, eateries, restaurants and entertainment center and of course ATMs of leading banks. So you can shop freely if you have the debit card with you. From fashionable clothing, accessories and jewelry to a variety of dry fruits, handicrafts and trinkets – Namchi Bazar has a lot of things to offer.

It was nearly 4:30 in the afternoon. The golden rays of sun was telling us he was about to set and we need to hurry otherwise we’ll miss two man-made wonders of Namchi.

Chardham Temples, Namchi Sightseeing, South Sikkim
Chardham Temples, Namchi, Sikkim

Chardham

We drove to Chardham at Solofok, a sacred pilgrimage (which was under construction at the time of our visit in September, 2010) consisting of replicas of four famous Hindu pilgrimages –  Rameshwaram Dham, Jagannath Dham, Dwaraka Dham, Badrinath Dham. There is also a beautiful temple featuring a huge statue of Lord Shiva sitting on top of the temple.

Assangthan Helipad

On the way back a surprise was waiting for us. The driver took us to Assangthan Helipad located on the top of a hill. It’s the perfect spot to get a 360 degree view of the valley below. We enjoyed awesome view of the setting sun from there.

Some other places that we missed in our Namchi trip are Temi Tea Garden and Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary. The lone tea estate in the entire state of Sikkim offers scenic beauty and lush greenery to behold. The wildlife sanctuary gives you an insight about the rich flora and fauna of the region. You’ll see some beautiful birds and can catch the glimpse of red pandas here. However, to cover all the places conveniently you need to extend your trip to a few more days.

What to Eat

We reached Pipalay in the afternoon at about 1:30 pm. We were too hungry to go outside and decided to take our lunch at the hotel’s restaurant which was not fully developed at that time – there was no menu card, no pricing list and no options to choose from. For a bowl of plain rice, daal, chicken and salad in lunch and rice and egg curry at dinner we were billed Rs 2000! And we took our lesson. When you are staying at a remote or underdeveloped area it is better you have your meals in the nearest town during sightseeing in day time and pack your food for dinner while getting back to the hotel in the night. There are restaurants in Jorthang where you can have Indian and Chinese at reasonable price. By the way, don’t forget to taste Momo at Namchi Bazar. You’ll relish it, I bet.

When to Visit

The best time to visit the place is from March to October. Though we found the weather little hot and humid during the day in September, nights were lot cooler. Mountain has a different charm in monsoon but that can be dangerous too with muddy and slippery roads and landslides. So if you are not so daring avoid visiting the place in June, July and August when Namchi sees huge rainfall.

Varanasi: A Visit to the Cultural Capital of India – Part III

Me at Varanasi, Ghat, photography

This is a continuation of my previous posts – Varanasi: A Visit to the Cultural Capital of India and Varanasi: A Visit to the Cultural Capital of India – Part II. Hope you enjoy reading…

The Last Day: Exploring the Ghats in Varanasi

On the next and the last day, I decided to explore the ghats on my own while my family went to Viswanath Temple for the second time. The main ghat was a 5-minute walk from the guest house. It was early morning and I roamed the ghats to ‘feel’ Varanasi for the last time. The river, the boats, the flowers in the floral shops, the sages in saffron and the people taking holy bath … all looked so different in the soft light of morning sun. I tried to capture some regular activities along the ghats.

Moon, Varanasi, Ghat, photography, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
My Photographer Avatar 🙂

Here are some for your eyes only…  🙂


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In spite of its zigzag narrow lanes, enough to give you the feel of labyrinths; dirty overcrowded ghats, polluted water, congested roads and no traffic rule at all, Varanasi has its own charm with its age-old edifices, temples and a laid back attitude towards life. It was really a wonderful trip to the holy city in late February when the weather is pleasant. I think this is the best time to visit the place if you want to avoid both the chilling winter and the scorching summer of Northern India.

Gradually our time in Benares came to an end. I chose the Travera of the guest house for extra comfort. Pickup and drop cost us a total of Rs. 1200 which could be cut down to Rs 300-400 if we took auto rickshaws. But I don’t mind that extra bucks for the comfort and convenience of my family.

N.B: If you need to dry your laundries out in the sun don’t forget to clip them tight. Otherwise, you may lose them forever… courtesy monkeys.  They have a tendency to grab anything and everything that belongs to human species… 😉 .   Take care and have a nice trip!



Varanasi: A Visit to the Cultural Capital of India – Part II

old mansion, Varanasi

This is a continuation of my previous post Varanasi: A Visit to the Cultural Capital of India

Second Day: Varanasi Sightseeing

The second day was reserved for sightseeing. In the morning we went to  Kashi Viswanath temple for ‘puja’. It was a Monday and the alleys to the temple were stuffed with people, actually devotees, from all across India.  Being a not-so-religious kind I chose to wait at a distance with all the mobile phones and cameras while my mother and aunt went inside. They don’t allow mobile phones and cameras inside. So, one way or the other I had to wait outside.

After lunch we set out for sightseeing in Varanasi. This time we didn’t take car from the hotel. We managed it with a local car rental agency and hired a Tata Sumo for the rest of the day at Rs. 800 (at the hotel desk, they asked for Rs. 2000). But I advise you should always start early for sightseeing.

Ram Nagar Fort

We started at 1:30 pm from the city and headed to Ram Nagar Fort, the palace of the ‘Maharaja’ (king) of Kashi (Benares).

Now the palace has been turned into a museum where you can see a historic collection of oriental and western artillery used in the 17th and 18th centuries; the cars and golden chariots used by the royal family; the silk robes and intricately designed silver dinnerware and decorative ceramics.

Ram Nagar Fort, Varanasi, Varanasi Sightseeing, Uttar Pradesh
Ram Nagar Fort

I liked the beautifully crafted chariot and was amazed by the size of a huge Cadillac. The ‘Rang Mahal’ (entertainment hall) has fascinating stained glass windows and doors to add more charm to its purpose, I guess.

Sarnath

From the fort we headed right to the holy shrine of ‘Sarnath’ where Lord Buddha is believed to preach his first sermon. Here, one thing I must mention that normally the sightseeing trips start with visiting temples in and around the city, then the university and then Ram Nagar fort to Sarnath which is about an hour journey from Varanasi. Since we started late we changed the itinerary starting with the distant fort and shrines and then coming back to the city.

Sarnath temple, Varanasi Sightseeing, Uttar Pradesh
Sarnath Temple

 

Sarnath Temple was looking beautiful in the golden streaks of twilight sun.

Sarnath, Buddhist Shrine, Varanasi Sightseeing, Uttar Pradesh

The temple premises were clean and quiet with the typical characteristics of a Buddhist shrine. Serenity was prevalent in the atmosphere. But what disturbed my mind was the signboard right inside the temple “Rs 25 for Photography” while “photography prohibited’ was written outside. Commercialization has turned out to be an infectious disease!

Sarnath Temple, Lord Buddha, Varanasi Sightseeing, Uttar Pradesh
Lord Buddha believed to have preached his first sermon at Sarnath

Banaras Hindu University

Our next destination was BHU, Banaras Hindu University, one of the largests in India. The university has its own aerodrome, helipad and bus service. The buses start from the main gate and ply the sprawling 10 sq km campus dropping students at their respective department buildings. Unfortunately it was already dark and I couldn’t take pictures. You’ll like the beautiful Birla Temple situated inside the campus.

Birla Temple, Banaras Hindu University, BHU, Varanasi Sightseeing, Uttar Pradesh
Birla Temple at Night, Banaras Hindu University

Durga Mandir

Back to the city, we visited temples of Gaudi (Durga Mandir), Hanuman Ji (Sankat mochan) and Annapurna.

The manager at car rental suggested for a day trip to Triveni Sangam, Allahabad which is about 3 hours drive from Varanasi. Unfortunately we were too short of time. Well… there is always a next time … :).

Continued… Part III: Exploring the Ghats

Varanasi: A Visit to the Cultural Capital of India

Morning activities on the ghats, Varanasi

‘The cultural heart of India’… or ‘the melting pot of Indian culture’ … or ‘the holy city of India’ – whatever you like to call it, the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city, Varanasi has its own charm to attract travelers from all across the globe. Glimpses of Benares in Satyajit Ray movies have always made me curious about the city. As I read Aldous Huxley’s ‘Benares’ …all those description of boats in the river, the ghats and Hindu rituals during solar eclipse ignited my inquisitiveness further.

Varanasi, Ganges, Ghats, Banaras, Benares, Uttar Pradesh
Incredible Benares

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the old city of Varanasi (Banaras) and would like to share my experience there. It was a family tour with my mother, aunt and my sisters.

Getting There

On 19th February we boarded the Howrah-Mumbai Mail at 10pm. Courtesy Kolkata’s typical rallies and meetings, all the roads to Howrah were blocked and we were stranded in traffic jam for 2hrs. Thankfully, it was our destiny that we reached the station literally at the last minute when the guard was about to wave the flag and finally managed to get on board.

The train reached Mughalsarai Junction next morning right in time. We opted for pickup service (Rs 600) provided by the hotel. A white Ambassador was waiting outside to take us to the guest house. We took the GT Road (or NH2). It was a journey of about an hour from Mughalsarai station to Godowlia Crossing, in the heart of Varanasi. However, there are plenty of auto rickshaws and trekkers outside the station that are much cheaper mode of transportation.

Ghats, Ganges, Varanasi, Banaras, Benares, Uttar Pradesh
Ganges – view from our guest house in Varanasi

First Day:

As you know, the narrow alleys are one of the city’s specialties… we had to get down on the main road and walk down the alley to reach our guest house.

Sita Guest House on Chowsatti Ghat is really a good place to stay in Varanasi if you want to enjoy the view of the Ganges in the quiet and privacy of your room. Rooms are neat and clean and the price is quite reasonable with respect to its location, facilities and service compared to other hotels/guest houses located near the always crowded Dasaswamedh Ghat (known as the main Ghat of Varanasi). Sita Guest House also has a rooftop restaurant which was another reason for me to choose this place.

Ganges, Assi Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Views from the guest house window

Godowlia Crossing, the main commercial hub of the city was 10-minute walk from our hotel. After a refreshing hot and cold water bath in the guest house we set out to explore the city market. I believe the market is a place in every city or town that gives you an essence of the city at once.

One thing I must mention that if you want a good meal outside the hotel you are staying, go for Kesari Restaurant, which is a popular eatery serving a variety of cuisines starting from Punjabi to South Indian. The restaurant is situated on the left of the road towards Dasaswamedh Ghat from the crossing.

After lunch our next destination was the famous Dasaswamedh Ghat. I wasn’t surprise to find the ‘sacred’ ghat so dirty. It was an over-crowded place where it seemed the whole city population swarmed in.

Dasaswamedh Ghat, Ganges, Varanasi, Benares, Uttar Pradesh
Dasaswamedh Ghat

The best thing about Varanasi is I think the boat ride in the Ganges…

Boat ride Varanasi, Ghats, Uttar Pradesh
Boat Ride in Varanasi

Since ours was an all-women group we reserved a boat for Rs 500 for one hour private ride. The boatman said he will show us the main 17 ghats and drop us in front of our guest house. Alternatively, you can go for a ride at Rs 70 per head in a group of 15 to 20 people at a time.

As the boat floated along the ghats the boatman went on briefing the history of each ghat including the main Dasaswamedh, Rana Mahal, Assi, Harischandra, Manikarnika and more. He was a captivating story teller, I must admit. I was busy in observing various activities of the devotees and visitors along the ghats while listening to him. From Hindu family performing religious rites to visitors from foreign countries taking pictures to some other species (buffaloes actually … ;)) staring at us while grazing lazily on the bank – it was quite an assortment!

Varanasi, Ghats, Ganges, Banaras, Benares, Uttar Pradesh
Ghats in Varanasi

In the middle of our ride we stopped at Kedar Ghat only to shop banarasi saris… well…you know women! 😉 Not buying a Banarasi Silk sari while in Benares is next to impossible.

Kedar Ghat, Varanasi, Banaras, Ganges, Uttar Pradesh
Kedar Ghat, Varanasi

There are a number of sari shops and silk factories around. Many of the shop owners will claim that they will give you pure Banarasi silk saree at cheaper price…BEWARE! In the market you’ll find many ‘dalals’ (broker) coming up to you and try to convince you to buy from their establishment. Do not listen to them as you may end up with a bad deal in the end. However, we shopped till we dropped… lol… and started back towards the main ghat. The sun was nearing the horizon and the ‘aarti’ was about to begin.

Dusk, Ganges, Ghats, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Dusk falling over the Ganges, Varanasi

It’s a wonderful experience to watch dusk falling over the city and lights coming out one by one along the riverbank. We found the ‘aarti’ already started as we reached the Dasaswamedh Ghat. It was one of a kind experience to watch the ‘aarti’ from the boat. I saw clergymen clad in saffron stood up in a row and chanted hymns together while waving lighted ‘diya’s (indigenous lamp used in religious rites) towards the holy river. The ghat was flooded with the light of bright golden flames… beautiful!

Aarti, Dasaswamedh Ghat, Ganges, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Evening aarti at Dasaswamedh Ghat, Ganges, Varanasi

Slowly we passed the main ghat and headed towards Chowsatti Ghat. The boatman dropped us right in front of our guest house.

My first day in Varanasi was quite eventful.


continued… Part II: Sightseeing in Varanasi