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.


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