Updated: Jun 14, 2020
It was a sensory explosion once I arrived in Varanasi. My soul wanting to cuddle my demons into introspection. Quite a start to my first day in Varanasi. A day prior when I was packing my bag, all I thought to myself was- Varanasi is going to be a ‘paavam’ trip for me. Some spirituality, some meditation, watching the Ganges clean for once, and buy some sarees for Ma and tie some rudhraksh to my hand and look cool.
Visit to Varanasi is incomplete without visiting the New Vishwanath Temple (B.H.U.), Sankat Mochan Temple, Tulsi Manas Mandir, Durga Mandir, Tridev Temple. Some people say, all temples feels the same. I beg to differ. Each of these divine temples, evoked a different feeling in me. I felt this difference when I entered the ‘Kashi Vishwanath temple. I felt a deep sense of peace and strength that transformed my vibe completely. Something so positive hit me along the tour of temple hopping, I knew, I am in the right place. Calm is what I felt on my very first day.
Varanasi has the best of both worlds. The colorful side of Varanasi is seen in its lanes and areas of shopping and food. The jostle and hustling doesn’t stop until you stop at their doorstep. Every step you take, you feel tempted to buy more, eat more, stare more and take more. Usually picking subtle pastel colors, I was surprised at my taste when I picked a blood red Banarasi saree for my mother. That is how vibrant I was feeling. My eyes and hands were only seeing the brighter side of life, so were my taste buds. Right from eating spicy to tangy, my taste buds finally got out of the vegan routine.
The next day when I woke up to the religious chanting of prayers, a certain vibration ran through my spine, waking up my soul. I have never felt this awakened during dusk. The vibration in my body were pumping me up with eagerness and calm at the same time. What a combination to live with.
The next day, I reached Allahabad, now known as Prayagraj . Sitting on a boat in Allahabad, in the middle of Triveni Sangam for a holy dip, I have never felt this pious. Not to mention the people around you. The kind of worship they offer to the holy mothers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi reverberates into your sight. All of the superstitions and religious story you think you know, evaporates in thin air.
Have you ever walked back from a certain experience being in your own world, yet your feet walking straight towards your destination? That is exactly what I felt while I was randomly taking a stroll in the Ghats of Varanasi. Varanasi is quite different then what I thought it to be. Eyes talk. People may nonchalantly pass through you, but you feel in your gut. The babas and the yogis talking right into your ear and making you nervous, you can feel it in your pulse. But you keep moving forward anyway.
Life is constantly happening in Varanasi.
This intense love-hate relationship that I was feeling, was about to help me, come face to face with life. My morning began with a boat ride in the laps of the Ganges, witnessing its powerful prepossessing that made me feel – I am lost in the right direction of life.
There were a lot of moments that bedazzled me. The circle of life and death happens mere feet’s away. You suddenly feel like you are in the middle of life and death. The vulnerability you feel, doesn’t make you look weak but strong. Such is the beauty of life in Varanasi. Acceptance. You accept what life shows you and you do not question it. Because that is nature.
As I take my final boat ride of my trip to witness the Maha Ganga Aarti, watching thousands of lamps lit across the borders of the river, with sadhus chanting the mantras, with their handles holding the high flames makes your senses balk at the mere sight of it. You hesitate for a brief moment, but then, you give in. You can feel your heart in your mouth, beating in sync with the rhythm of the holy chants. You take in the electrifying chants, waking up with soul and filling it up with the reality of life and the beauty of living it.
In that very moment, I knew, Varanasi had possessed me with its honest charm and intense numbness. I came to Varanasi wanting to witness its magic, but what I got in return was its magic that helped me witness my life and live it.
On my way back to the airport, the only music playing in my ears was – HAR HAR MAHADEV, HAR HAR MAHADEV, HAR HAR MAHADEV.