I generally don't do any travelogues but since I haven't been up to much off-late (read, absolutely nothing) and had a chance to visit Varanasi, I felt I should scribble my thoughts on the travel and the city in general. I always had the wish to visit Varanasi as I had never been there before; it's one of the oldest continually populated cities of the world & as Mark Twain put it:
Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.
I guess the biggest charm of Varanasi are the river Ganges , the ghats (steps to the river), the temples and the yogis (some real; some fake)! The first thing that I noticed after (while) arriving at Varanasi was the chaos of the city: the amount of traffic in the narrow lanes is simply killing! I don't know how local people have gotten used to so much of traffic; there's no dirth of locals and add to that the huge hoards of tourist who visit the city every day! I was also a bit surprised by the number of tourists from foreign country who flock this city; perhaps; Varanasi and its glimpse of (very) old indian history intrigue people from far off land. Ghats are again full of people but have some kind of calmness about them, maybe it's due to the calm Ganges that flows alongside the entire city. A morning walk along the ghats and exploring the ganges on a boat during the evening (along with the aarti on the dashashvedh ghat at 6:30) are something that I would recommend any would-be-visitor. All in all, a nice trip with some good experiences and memories of the holiest city in Hinduism. Would I recommend a visit to this city? sure, yes; you need to visit Varanasi once no matter where you are from but just keep in mind it might be a little shocking to begin with.
There are a lot more places that I need to go next in India, hopefully am gonna cover them all one by one. After my visit, I don't think I could have agreed with Mark Twain more!
By the way, the photo pile was not done using Picasa; more on that in some other post