Varanasi: The Flashback

Varanasi, the place was on my travel list since 5 years and I was wondering when the D-day would arrive!

Lately, I have come to realize that things happen at the right opportune time!

So it did! November 2017 was the month I set foot in Varanasi with no expectations but a heart filled with enthusiasm to explore this intriguing place. And of course with the people I adore! 😉

The ride from Sunauli (Why sunauli- will get back to that probably in my next post on Annapurna Circuit)  to Varanasi was quite interesting. My friend and me started early morning in the UPSRTC bus to reach Varanasi! From scenic paddy fields, mustard fields and farms galore the road took to small towns, cities and finally reached Varanasi. One can feel the chaos as soon as you hit the city center. We hired a auto-rickshaw to take us to our stay at Zostel.

It was 3pm when we reached and took some time to freshen up. We went on a stroll to explore the streets of Varanasi in the evening!

Our first pit-stop in Varanasi was at the local famous Chaat shop. We tried a variety of Chaats and of course ended with a sweet-meat! We were too tired to get on with our exploration that we took to the terrace at our stay indulging in a chat and then hit the sack after the long day!

Let me give you a glimpse of Varanasi!

So our stay was pretty close to Kashi Vishwanath temple, the main street and about 2-3 kms to the Ghats and of course the Ganges!

The streets were amazingly crowded! More than vehicles on the road, there were people and it was more difficult for the vehicles to meander through the crowd. But the two wheelers, auto-rickshaws, tuk-tuk, cycle-rickshaws and a zillion other variety of vehicles added of course to the rhythmic chaos! The street also had a good number of street vendors selling trinkets, fruits,  neem twigs,chaats and what-nots! The main street leads one to the Ghats where certain rituals and ablutions take place. There along the Ghats runs Ganga with all exuberance and serenity! Along the main street the road leads to a lot of narrow alleys which house series of temples; big and small! Apart from that there are popular lassi spots, kullad chai addas, paan shops and of course the hot jalebis / samosas spots!

All in all an interesting place to explore.

Let me talk about the history and importance of Varanasi; It is a spiritual and a religious place for Hindus where one is believed to attain Liberation if one is cremated there after death!

Kashi, Benaras, Varanasi are some of the names it goes by! It is a revered city on the banks of Ganga in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is called Varanasi owing to the confluence of Varuna and Assi rivers! It is known as the ‘City of Lights’-Kashi(to shine)!

 

We were joined by two other friends the next morning and we got on a temple hopping spree!

Each and every temple had a certain vibration and of course different deities. Right from Kalabhairav temple to Sankat mochan Mahabali Hanuman temple to Devi temple to the main Kashi Vishwanath temple to Annapurna temple, each had its beauty and fervour! (PS: these are the few temple names I remember, we did a visit a few more maybe!)

Kashi Vishwanath temple, the main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a huge temple which houses smaller shrines and temples. The temple has withstood  a lot of battles and rampage over 12th-18th Centuries owing to the Mughal attacks. The temple is beefed up with a lot of security personnel! The various smaller temples runs along the narrow alleys which is quite a meandering tour!

We were present for a couple of Aartis (rituals) at the Vishwanath temple and the energy of the chants, the mystical place, the awe-inspiring rishis were mind-blowing! I cannot put it into words but it was truly a remarkable experience!

Food and drinks are at its best out here in Varanasi. The evenings were spent in exploring and tasting the cuisine of Varanasi. Puri Bhaji, hot jalebis, Kachoris are the popular and tasty breakfast dishes. One can snack upon chaats, taste variety of lassis, kullad chai, hot-lemon teas and bhaang which is legal in the streets of Varanasi! Well, not to forget the Benarasi Paan!

 

One of the highlights of the place is obviously the Ganges.

She flows with all zest unperturbed about the life and death at her banks! 

Sparkling her way through the lights of Sun and Moon! 

Ready to sway by the flickering souls in the midst! 

All set to trigger the divine you!

A boat ride takes one along the Ghats from one end to the other. It is a beautiful ride!

By the Ghats, Varanasi,ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
By the Ghats, Varanasi

The ghats / embankments along the Ganga are a place of rituals! Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghat are popular for cremation rituals.

Dasashwamedh Ghat is very popular for the Ganga Aarti which takes place in the evening twilight! There are 7 Rishis who perform the rituals facing Ganga! We sat on one of the boats and saw this beautiful array of lights, lamps and of course the 7 rishis perform synchronous rituals with the lamps. It was a sight to behold! The fervour of the place, the people in unison, serene Ganga, the rishis were magnetic and splendid! This is something that one shouldn’t miss if visiting Varanasi!

The Ghats are open 24*7 and the best time to visit is in the early mornings for the spectacular Sunrise and the evenings during the Sunsets and of course the Aarti!

Sunrise at Ganges, Varanasi, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Sunrise at Ganges, Varanasi
Sunset at the Ganges, Varanasi, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Sunset at the Ganges, Varanasi

One place which we considered our amazing serene hang-out was the Nepali temple in the Lalita Ghat. The temple is a replica of Pashupatinath temple, Nepal. It is made of wood, stone and terracota. It was built by the King of Nepal during his exile and was completed by his son. It took three decades to complete this beautiful structure and it is surrounded by tamarind and peepal trees which makes it all the more lovely!

Nepali temple, Lalita Ghat, Varanasi, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Nepali temple, Lalita Ghat, Varanasi

One can also visit Banaras Hindu University (BHU) which is the largest residential University in Asia!

All in all, Varanasi is a place of wonder. One has to visit it to experience the immense beauty and delve into this mystical abode!

 

 

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Unison #AtoZChallenge

U #AtoZChallenge

I have lately come to believe the power of unison!

I say it because there is a certain energy that gets created when people work towards the greater good in unison.

This energy could transform lives, world as a whole.

I am not sure whether this ideology seems practical. But lately reading a few facts about the Pyramids, watching the intriguing concept of the Avatar movie, reading about the consecration of the Dhyanalinga at the Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore makes this notion seems feasible in a way.

On a spiritual note, we have to realize our purpose or know ourselves inside out. With that our journey is the same and we can surely work in unison to get to the other dimension.

What do you have to say about this?

Miracles #AtoZChallenge

M #AtoZchallenge

Miracles 

Just when I thought Life was just mundane

I bumped into a miracle…

I quite couldn’t believe what I experienced

For it had me wanting for more…

You may ask, what is it all about?

I will just say live Life as if it were your last

It may seem elusive at first

But a moment, a chance meet turn out to be…

MIRACLES.. for LIFE is a grand one!

Journey within #AtoZChallenge

J #atoZchallenge blogging

Journeys are always interesting.

I am an ardent trekker and a traveler. I have always learnt some amazing new things on all my endeavors and it has changed me for the better.

Lately, well since the past year, it has been a lovely journey within me. I am getting to know myself or getting to know the world in a completely different way.

There have been certain overwhelming episodes, instances and beautiful experiences that have made me wanting more of that.

You may be wondering as to what I am talking about?!

Well all I can tell you is that it is a journey within and you will explore it one day or the other. Hope you do so soon enough.

Well I am off to yoga and meditation now!

Himalayas #AtoZChallenge

H has to be Himalayas for me!

H

They are my second love after ‘Books!’

My first experience in Himalayas was spellbinding. To stand and gaze at the mighty mountains was utterly fabulous. The mountain air evokes the soul within you and certainly come back to the plains a changed person. It is so sublime that I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

View Point 1, Goechala Pass, Sikkim with Mt. Kanchenjunga in the background
Me and Mt. Kanchenjunga in the background

Days and days pass by

My love for them stands by

It is a calling I cannot ignore

For I long for them forever more!

I have been visiting Himalayas every year now.

Well do visit Himalayas, the abode of mighty mountains and bliss!

Or have you been to Himalayas and how was your experience?

Fathom #AtoZChallenge

Fathom

F #atozchallenge blogging

I cannot quite fathom the happenings of the world

I cannot fathom the miracles of the universe

I cannot fathom the future of this materialistic world

I cannot entirely fathom the creation

I cannot fathom the start of this madness

I cannot fathom the joy of being alive

I fathom that I am a witness

I fathom that I am on the brink of two worlds

I fathom that this is an adventure

I fathom that I don’t need to fathom everything!

Dalhousie #AtoZChallenge

Dalhousie – A poet’s paradise

D #atozchallenge blogging

Well it is the D-day. And all I can think of for today’s challenge is Dalhousie.

I can’t forget this beautiful hill station nestled in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, India.

By the Dalhousie Woods on a rainy evening
By the Dalhousie woods on a rainy evening

I spent my Birthday week last year at this place. The monsoons in July made it all the more beautiful. Lush landscapes, rolling hills, hot food and the misty woods made it all the more lovely.

Lush landscape, woods at Dalhousie
Lush landscape, woods at Dalhousie

It is located in the Dhauladhar mountain ranges of the Himalayas at an altitude of 6000 to 9000 feet above sea-level. The ride through Dalhousie kept me on my toes as I wished that I would make a home in the woods…. Well the dream stays…

Misty Roads, Dalhousie
Misty Roads, Dalhousie

Cubbon Park #AtoZChallenge

C #atozblogging challenge

Cubbon Park is one prominent landmark in Bangalore city. Covering an area of 300 acres, it houses many public buildings and large variety of flora. It has beautiful trees, walking paths, children play area and beautiful gardens and recreational spaces.

Walking paths in Cubbon Park3
Walking paths in Cubbon Park

A fine Sunday afternoon got me capturing a few glimpses of the park…. I was mesmerized by the play of light on the gigantic trees.

This place is a haven for Photographers, Pet Lovers, Acrobats on SlackLining, Musicians, Joggers, Yoga Enthusiasts and just about anyone who loves nature.

‘Be’ You! #AtoZChallenge

B , AtoZchallenge blogging

Be You!

Well it is Day 2 of #AtoZ Blogging Challenge. Letter ‘B’, I would like to go with the profound Being/ Be you/ Be yourself.

We tend to forget all about being ourselves in this world. Maybe by getting lost in mundane things, on a never ending race of materialistic pursuits, thinking about unnecessary irrelevant stuffs, echoing negativity in our thoughts and action.

Well life would be simple if you let yourself Being You!

Be weird 

Be happy 

Be peaceful

Be authentic

Be crazy

Be in love

Be kind

Be humble

Be positive

Be gracious

Be fearless

Be Amazing

Be Awesome

Be Content

Be Bold

Be Strong

Be YOU! 

Firstly, be all the above things to yourself before you can pass it onto others!

When you run out of all the things just BE!

 

An Art Escapade: NGMA Bangalore

Manikyavelu Mansion- An Art in itself

A white colonial style building caught my eye as I entered the vicinity of National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore. Nestled in a quiet corner in the city on the Palace Road, this place evokes Art!

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As I walked across the pathway, it was a sight to see huge old trees decorating the Manikyavelu Mansion which houses the gallery and lush green lawns exuding an air of warmth and elegance. The lawns are decorated with Abstract Art Stone structures which is a food for thought for any passers-by!

A short trip to the Cafe and a peek at the books and paintings in the Reception, I was all set to enter the Gallery.

The Thought Provoking Exhibits

Though Venkatappa Art Gallery houses the works of the Artist Venkatappa, The NGMA Gallery houses artwork of his teacher Abanindranath Tagore. Along with the works of other Tagore stalwarts Gagenadranath and Rabindranath. The Gallery has fabulous paintings from various artists across the country and works from the 18th Century to the present. It is a great sight to see Award-winning Paintings and Artworks, only to rack one’s brains of the thought and idea behind the piece. One can simple gaze for hours at the mesmerizing works of Raja Ravi Varma, M.F. Hussain, Amrita Shergil and other renowned artists. As you walk through the two-storeyed mansion which includes the old and modern Art pieces, the place speaks to the Artist in you.

The huge quaint rooms, the airy decorated halls, wood laden floors, windows that open to a view of the garden, the passages that evoke creativity, well it is truly an Art in itself!

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There are various events and exhibitions happening at this place throughout the year.

The current gallery houses the paintings and work of A.A. Almelkar : Inspiration and Impact

So if you are a Art lover/ Aficionado drop in at NGMA, Bangalore and have an Artsome time.

The place is on Manikyavelu Mansion, Palace Road, Bangalore.

Check out for the timings, events and exhibitions at their website: NGMA Bangalore