“Brace yourself. You’re about to enter one of the most blindingly colorful, unrelentingly chaotic and unapologetically indiscreet places on earth. Varanasi takes no prisoners. But if you’re ready for it, this may just turn out to be your favorite stop of all.”
Also known as the City of Life, this is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities and is regarded as one of Hinduism’s seven holy cities. Pilgrims come to the ghats (steps leading down into the water) lining the River Ganges to wash away a lifetime of sins and to cremate their loved ones. To die here, in Varanasi, offers moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death) and it is said that when ashes of ancestors are offered into the Ganges, you are erasing 7 generations of karma from the past and 7 generations of karma in the future. Powerful stuff. Before I go to Varanasi, I hope to obtain some ashes of my father’s and release them into the swirling waters of the Ganges.
Lonely Planet goes on to say: “Most visitors agree it’s a magical place, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. Here the most intimate rituals of life and death take place in public and the sights, sounds and smells in and around the ghats can be overwhelming. Persevere. Varanasi is unique, and a walk along the ghats or a boat ride on the river will live long in memory.”
We have such great events planned for Varanasi, including an evening boat ride along the Ganges as well as a sunrise boat ride the following day. We will be attending a temple aarti (ceremony with song and lamps) and receive a private concert. My pulse quickens with excitement to visit this holy city. I know first-hand how surreal India can seem and yet, in the completely unfamiliar and unknown, spirit resides and the veils are thin. There is absolute potency for amazing experiences in this space of suspended belief. Can you feel it?