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Thread: Chala Tanik Banaras Ghoom Laa..!! : All the needful about… Varanasi, Banaras, Kashi

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    Default Chala Tanik Banaras Ghoom Laa..!! : All the needful about… Varanasi, Banaras, Kashi



    Pics here are from net and some of my clicks too..

    Kudos to all the photographers and thanks for their images
    A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.

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    Before you go

    Read some insightful stories by Mushi Premchand, the celebrated turn of the century novelist of Varanasi.


    Get artsy and rent Apusansar (The World of Apu) a black and white film made in Varanasi during the 1960′s by Academy Award winner Satyajit Ray.


    Buy some Ravi Shankar on sitar and Bismillah Khan on shenai so you can talk knowledgeably with the music lovers you meet, then be really cool and try to locate their birthplaces in the maze of alleyways.


    Get used to the farm life meandering around. Learn how to pet doe-eyed cattle, shepherd the flocks and avoid idiotic water buffalo so you can safely navigate the streets of Varanasi.


    Be prepared to face the devastating power of Banarasi Paan, a semi-narcotic betal nut product wrapped in a edible leaf and filled with molassas, rosewater, tutti fruiti, licorice, cloves and poisionous lime paste. Enjoy!
    A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.

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    Things to do

    Take a relaxed early morning walk along the riverside ghats and see the sacred morning ablutions.


    Visit the the lovely Banaras Hindu University campus and enter the tallest temple in Varanasi, the Birla Mandir.


    Visit the Sarnath Stupa and eat a picnic where the Buddha preached his first sermon and turned the wheel of dharma.


    Check out the creepy overgrown Gothic English Cemetery in the Cantonment near Police Lines.


    Experience the magical scenes of temples, palaces and symbiotic life in a hand-pulled boatride on the Ganga River.
    A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.

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    Places to see

    See the giant relief map of India in the Bharat Mata Mandir, which was inagurated by Mahatma Gandhi.


    Enjoy a noisy bell ringing, fire waving evening at the Ganga Aarti ceremony, held nightly at Dasashwamedh ghat.


    Take in the eerie power of the 24 hour cremation grounds at Manikarnika burning ghat. Watch out for touts!


    Wicked cool Maharajah stuff in the Ram Nagar Fort Museum found across the river.


    The one and only Ashoka chakra (the national symbol of India) located in the Sarnath Museum.
    A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.

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    Where and what to shop

    Get local fabric, musical instruments, trinkets galore and sage advice from Naval in the U.P. Cottage Emporium, located just off Vishwanath Lane at 5/68 Tripura Bhairawi, near the Dashaswamedh Ghat area.


    Increase your understanding about Varanasi through talking to Rakesh and buying his books at cult hangout Harmony Bookshop, located at the tail end of Assi Ghat.


    Buy some cute handpainted traditional wooden toys, shiny happy sparkling ladies bangles, reasonably priced puja items and other devotional paraphernalia in Vishwanath Gali located on the lane to Vishwanath Mandir.


    Haggle hard in Godowlia Night Market for the latest sari and salwar kameez fashions of Banaras. Located between Godowlia Church Crossing and Dashashwmedh Ghat.


    Funk out your house with traditional and neo-traditional brass sculptures from Banaras the Sculpture Gallery. Yogesh loves art and his family has been in the brass business for generations. Located on the corner of Assi ghat in the Ganga Math complex.
    A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.

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    Where to stay

    Stay at the tranquil and charming Hotel Gangesview in Assi ghat where you will get wonderful vegetarian food. The owner will enthrall you with historical anecdotes and stories of Varanasi!

    If you are coming for an extended visit then why not stay at the Kautiliya Society in historic Ram Bhavan near the ghats. It hosts artists, scholars and culture lovers from stays for a few days to a few months!
    Head past the Manikarnika burning ghat and you will stumble upon the riverside Scindia Guest House. It is simple, clean and reasonably priced.


    Need a less noisy place away from the hubub of the old city? Then pop into Hotel Surya located in the Cantonment. You can enjoy a swim, get a massage, hit the bar and enjoy lunch on the lawn.


    Visiting Sarnath and needing good accomadation on that side of town? Why not stay at Hotel Golden Buddha where Ganesh and Seema will treat you right and arrange for all your needs!


    What and Where to Eat and Drink

    Does it really get any better than French Press coffee, breakfast and free wireless internet at Open Hand Cafe found in Dumrao Bagh Colony, Assi Ghat?


    Eat real Italian pizza and tasty Jordanian food at Phulwari Resturant, Bansphatak, near Godowlia Roundabout. Sashi the manager may even challenge you at shatranj (chess) while you wait!


    Bone up on your Urdu language skills while munching biryani & kebabs on New Road, past Benia Bagh near Dalmandi. bara hua biryani is at the corner and the excellent shami kebabs are deeper in the bazaar on the right hand side!


    Can’t handle the pressure? Then head to the Hotel Surya in the Cantonment Area and marinate in the bar or on the lawn.
    Stay fit by drinking lassi in the summer, malaiya in the winter, thandai in the spring, and chai all day long!
    A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.

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    Some Historical & Cultural Insights

    “Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Mark Twain, 1898


    Varanasi is the most holy pilgrimage site of the Hindus and is the ancient name for the city that is set between the Varuna and Assi rivers. It is also known as Banaras, the city of masti mauj, meaning fun and frolic, hence Bana (to make) and Ras (the juice of life). The definitive Jerusalem and Mecca of India with hundreds of thousands of stone steps, called ghats, which make a majestic embankment for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims checking into the sacred waters of the Ganges River.


    While one is not sure if Mark Twain’s comment above is a compliment or not, Varanasi is really old… really, really old. It is mentioned in the Hindu scriptures as Kashi, the city of light, and has been a spiritual power centre for at least 4000 – 6000 years. As one of the world’s oldest living cities it is the beautiful traditions and customs of spiritual pilgrimage, vedic chanting, classical music, temple architecture and street drama that make Varanasi one of the richest heritage sites of the world. Vedic texts are passed down orally from generation to generation from father to son and guru to disciple by the priestly families of Brahmin pandits. The Ganges river, better known as Ganga Ma, is considered a living goddess by Hindus who bathe and drink the water to absolve many lifetimes of sins. Come and work a few out yourself!


    From yesteryear til today the classical musicians & poets of Varanasi, both Hindu and Muslim, have held court and are the rockstars of the city. Varanasi is the place where 400 hundred years ago the pandit Goswami Tulsidas translated the story of Ram from Sanskrit to the local lingo and was banished from the city by the preisthood. His epic translation is now the basis for the Ram Lila, an autumn street drama held across the city in various locations and hosted by the former Maharajah of Varanasi. A famous Muslim weaver named Kabir took a Hindu guru in the 15th century and eventually disdained the hypocrisy in both communities, ridiculing them in course couplets of clever rhyme. His songs are now a part of the Sikh scriptures. No one can forget Ravidas, a poor dealer in animal hides and despised by the so-called higher castes, who rose against all tradition to become one of the most celebrated holyman of the city.


    “Rand, Sand, Seedi, Sanyasi, Inse Bacche to Sevai Kashi.” Saint Kabir, 15th Century


    As the great poet Kabir is attributed to have said, “Widows, bulls, stairs and saints, escape them all to reach salvation (Kashi)”. There are many wandering beggers and widows who have come to die in the holy city and the eerie 24 hour fires of the burning ghats testify to Varanasi’s title given by Shiva, the Lord of Death, as ‘The great cremation ground’ where he makes his home. There are also numerous bulls and cows on the roads, in the lanes, lounging by doors… most are friendly but take care as you step past them! Lastly, it would seem that in spite of sincere believers, sacred waters and holiness of the city of Varanasi there have always been unscrupulous wannabes and priests who extort money from the pilgrims. Watch out for them yourself or you may find that a handshake turns into an expensive massage or a blessing and dab of powder on the forehead needs more than a few coins in return!


    With all of these hurdles to salvation it is no wonder why Banarasi’s never take themselves too seriously, or work too hard, and are always ready to stop and drink chai! After all they live in the centre of the universe, the most holy city in the world and the city of eternal light.


    Come Walk Varanasi With Me!
    A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.

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    Last edited by imperium; 21-07-2012 at 10:04 AM. Reason: logon.ki.demand.
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