Banaras, Kashi or Varanasi..for me, these are the magical words. I was born and brought up around 30 kms away from the center of this city. and Banaras, it fascinates me since the childhood. Whenever I goes to Varanasi, it always mesmerize me with its unique culture and tradition. I walk along the Ganga for hours, I sit at the ghats, I calmly watch the funeral procession at Harischandra and Manikarnika Ghat. This become the part of my life, whenever I go to my hometown.
Apart from the Ganges and its famous ghats, there are also a lot of famous places to visit in Varanasi. The details of these places is available in another post :Popular Places to Visit in Banaras Other Than The Temples And The Ghats
During my recent visits, I noticed how this holy river “The Ganges” affects the life of Banaras. I captured numerous pictures of the life along this river in Varanasi. They are from different walks, doing different types of job and belonging to different communities, but one thing is common in all them–The Magic of Banaras attract them always. I hope you will enjoy these colors of life at the ghats of Varanasi.
Subah-e-Banaras (Rising Sun in Varanasi): I can bet you that no other places in the world has a beautiful morning like Varanasi. You may find a sun rising from the hills, a sun rising from the sea water, a sun rising behind the magnificent temples like Angkor Wat…they may give you a beautiful scene to capture..but in Banaras, the rising sun gives you an opportunity to capture the different colors of life. The morning is not a monotonous note here. Its a symbol of life here. With the rising sun, you will find people taking bath, offering prayers, enjoying boat-rides in the golden water, performing number of rituals at the ghats. You can see a barber shaving-off the hair of a small child, a young man enjoying the swimming in the river, an old man chanting the prayers and a dead man on a funeral pyre. Life cycle of a person goes along the flow of the river.
Tourists Enjoying the Boat-Rides: A walk along the river front in Varanasi and you find numerous boats running in the holy water of the Ganga. These boats are the best way to see the life at the ghats of Varanasi. The boat-owners belong to a particular community of India known as ” Mallah” and their main work is to provide the boat services to the passengers across the rivers. In the morning, you can enjoy beautiful sun-rise from the boats. In the day, they can take you across the river, so that you can take bath in the less-polluted water of The Ganga on the other side. In the evening, these boats are the best bet to see the “Ganga Aarti” at Dashashwamedh Ghat. In the night, these boats are a perfect sleeping place for some boat-owners. You can even see the boats standing few meters away from the funeral pyres and people calmly watching the funeral procession.
Dhobi Ghat: Washer-men washing the Clothes Just adjacent to the Harishchandra Ghat, where funeral pyres burn, you find lot of men washing clothes in the river. These men are from a particular community of India and known as “Dhobis”. Their main work to collect the dirty clothes from various households of their areas and then wash and iron those clothes to deliver again to the owners.They beat the clothes against the stone wash slabs at the ghats and then rinse them in the river water.
Walk along the river further and there is a lot of activities going on in the morning. It is amazing to see how this city wake up so early in the morning to perform these activities on the riverfront.
Spotted some boys catching the fish: Generally, the fish-catching is a profession of particular community known as “Machhuara” in India, but it is not restricted to them only. I spotted these boys catching the fish in the river and it is their own style to start the day.
moving further, I also found a mother-daughter duo feeding the wheat flour to the fishes at the ghats. Boys catching them for death, mother-daughter feeding them for life…Life and Death live together in Varanasi. Where else in the world people want to die at a particular place? In Varanasi, death is always a sacred thing and it is believed that dying here give them a freedom from the cycle of birth and death.
People Taking Bath in the Ganges: For millions of Hindus, the river Ganga is the physical expression of goddess Ganga and bathing in her water is both spiritual ritual and necessary ablution. It is believed that a holy dip in the Ganga washed away all the sins of life. A lot of Hindus from the different parts of India come here regularly on a pilgrimage throughout the year.
Fine Arts students drawing a portrait: Varanasi has always been a great educational center of India. Its various universities offer many courses in the fine arts and you can always find these students in the streets with their card-boards, papers and pencils. But when it comes to figure out the colors of life, which place could be better than a ghat at The Ganges? This girl is trying to figure out that picture perfect at a ghat.
Animals and Birds also enjoy their life in Banaras: Animals and birds equally enjoy the riverfront of the Ganga in Varanasi. Numerous stone staircases looks like a wide walkway for the animals as well as human. Thousands of visitors roaming along with buffalo, cows, goats, birds, and packs of wild dogs at the bank of the river.
Ghats are perfect playgrounds for children: These ghats are wide enough at some places to act as a perfect playground for the children. You can find children playing cricket, enjoying the kite-flying at the ghats of Varanasi.
Moving further, I found these women walking on the ghats with the pile of woods. These woods would be used by them for the cooking purpose.
Then, spotted a hawker selling these stuffs at the ghats of Varanasi. For this hawker, the ghats of Varanasi are the place to arrange the bread and butter for the family.
These ghats at the bank of river “The Ganga” depicts a perfect picture of humanity. There is movement, motion, human life everywhere and it starts from the early morning and then stops only in the late night. Many visitors roaming along with buffalo, cows, dogs…hawker selling drinks, foods, other stuffs, …people sleeping at the benches and stairs,…tourists enjoying the boat-rides,…pilgrims taking a dip in the holy river…moored boats as well as boats moving in the rivers…one sees all this and more while spending a day on the ghats along the Ganges in Varanasi.