Posted: Sep 20 2014
Known as the oldest inhabited city on earth, Varanasi is a city in India like no other. Teeming with pilgrims and temples, nestled in between the Ganga and Varuna river, life here in many ways has remained unchanged for literally thousands of years. The old city is where one can truly experience the timelessness of this majestic yet chaotic place. The ghats that line the Ganga lead up to a seemingly endless maze of alleys and byways that twist and turn in every direction. This gives the random visitor almost no ability to navigate with a purpose. This fact also presents an opportunity to let the old city take you where it wants. This might be a dead end with a private entrance to someones home, or a small chai stand where the local inhabitants come to congregate and discuss their goings on. It might be a samosa stall with a plate of steaming hot samosas, piled high beckoning you to try one, forgoing your better judgment that perhaps the questionable oil they were cooked in is a risk worth ignoring. It could be a silk shop where the local proprietor calls you over to share some chai with him as he shows you his silk scarves and sari's. And of course you will likely find yourself in front of a small temple or shrine that's been there for countless centuries, a silent witness to the constant commotion that envelops the city. This is what is so fascinating about Varanasi, the countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Varanasi has lots of famous sites worth seeing but it's in the byways and alleys off the ghats that some of the real magic of the city resides. One of the things that is so interesting about Varanasi isn't what you go there looking for but rather what you may find when you let go and allow the city to swallow you up in it's chaos and beauty.