June 16, 2020

Varanasi with Arjun Narayanan

This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Arjun Narayanan, a journalist and host of Madraswallah Podcast!

Today's destination- Varanasi, UP

Nearest Airport- Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport

Nearest Railway Station- Varanasi Junction railway station

Prerequisites - preparation and research

Packing - Dress appropriately as some of the temples might require modest attire

Time of the year - November to February

Length of the itinerary- 4 days

Itinerary Highlights:

- Arjun plans and reads ahead of time before visiting historically significant places like Varanasi.
- We talk about the history and the religious significance of Varanasi, the deep relationship with Ganges and the beliefs.
- Visit Sarnath, the place where Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon at the deer park. There is also a museum where you can explore ancient artifacts.
- Temples to visit while in Varanasi: Sankat Mochan temple, Kashi Vishwanath temple, Kaal bhairav temple, Vishalakshi temple, Annapurna temple.
- Ghats of Varanasi - best explored by walking, but you can take up a boat ride to cover them in number.
- Important ghats include - Manikarnika Ghat, Harishchandra ghat, Assi ghat, Raj ghat, Guleria ghat, Dashashwamedha ghat among many others.
- Watch the many aartis performed on these ghats, ranging from simple poojas to elaborate procedures, hymns and conches.
- Explore the streets and alleys of Varanasi that offers a variety of street food. Some places visited by Arjun include Ram bhandaar for Kachoris, Blue lassi shop, Pehlwan lassi, Kachori gali, Poori sabzi, Ras waale aloo.
- There are a number of book stores one can explore in Varanasi as well and check out some great books such as 'Bananas, the city of lights', 'Bana rahe Banaras' etc.
- Varanasi also has a rich literary history like Munshi Premchand and Bhartendu Harishchandra who belong to Varanasi as well as a rich cultural history with artists like Bismillah Khan, Pandit Ravishankar, Pandit kishan maharaja, Sitara Devi etc.
- Try to check out a music festival if you happen to be here during such events. Sankat mocha music festival (April), Dhrupad mela (February), Ganga Mahotsav (November), Kabir festival (December) are some music festivals of Varanasi.
- Dussehra, Diwali and Dev Deepavali are among the popular festivals of Varanasi.
- Also consider making a visit to BHU - Banaras Hindu University if you have the time for it. It is one of the largest universities of Asia. Popular are the model of the Kashi Vishwanath temple on its campus as well as Bharat Kala Kendra which is a popular museum.
- Finally don't forget to check out some Benarasi sarees and try out the Benarasi Paan along with Bhaang from a government authorized outlets!

Link to the Madraswallah podcast:

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Photo by Srivatsan on Unsplash

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