Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together - Mark Twain
Still figuring out what is the best way to start off a blog, as of now still clueless. Anyway just wanted to share my feelings on my recent trip to Varanasi. Been there from 18th to 21st of September. This trip has been truly enlightening in a lot of ways. There is something about this place which is philosophical, thought provoking and mystical. Its one of the oldest inhabited places on the face of the earth. Though on a materialistic level the city is crowded, dense, unclean and abode to some of the smartest and able cheaters, at a philosophical level its altogether an experience that can find no words.
Following are mail excerpts that sent to my dad and mom live from Varanasi. I made some corrections here and there.
Just arrived in kasi a couple of hours ago. Were late by 1hr as the flight got delayed by 1hr. Landed here at 4:30PM. Even after the delay we arrived at the perfect time to freshen up and attend the famous Ganga harathi. It was quite an experience I would say with so many people thronging the banks, and priests (in their 20s) performed the harathi. After the harathi we went to present ourselves before the lord of lords , the lord and master of the universe Kasi Vishwanath. We first had his darshan and then had the darshan of mata annapurneshwari. After shelling out a couple of thousands we were heading to visit the shakti peet of kasi vishalakshi. The mother ordered us to sweep here temple premises. I personally consider this great chance
and acceptance of our prayers. Next we had a sumptuous dinner, it wasn't great but wasn't bad either. We finished the rally by having the famous Banarasi pan. Though I am not a great fan or expert in pan studies, that was a taste I never tasted prior. We are now heading to the temple to attend the Mahamangala Harathi in the Vishwanath temple. Need to be there by 2 to catch a good place. since I started typing this 2 people got ready, its only my brother now who has to get ready and then off we go to the temple...
day 1 :9:30am
Just reached Gaudiya mission after a very hectic morning. Like I pointed in my last post, we went to Mahamangala harathi in the morning. To state the experience in words wouldn't be humanly possible, it was like seeing lord vishwanath being pampered like a child(my personal feeling). With spending over 1hr looking at him, with his image imprinted on my heart, I think my prayers have been accepted. We completed the darshan at 4:30 had a tea at the local shop. We then quickly came back to the mission and went to kedar ghat after collecting our cameras. Todayfor the first time I touched holy mother gangas feet. The first dip will be long remembered. After playing in her lap for 20 mins, we came back to start taking snaps of a splendid morning. We spent a couple of hours on the banks. we then took a manual boat to visit all the major ghats. We then had breakfast at a local kerala resturant. Reached Gaudiya mission back and now are getting ready for the day ahead
day2 4:30am :
We spent an hour at the mission yesterday after which we hit the road. We covered quite a few temples and skipped a few historic places. Kasi is too big to cover in a single trip so did not try the impossible. Overall the day was tiring and testing. Evening we went to aghori matt. Later we went to vishlakshi temple again, did some shopping and post dinner retired for the day. Currently we a bracing up for the pryaga part of this journey. Plan is to visit pryaga and be back by evening. The driver is waiting the boys are getting ready :)
day3 : 1:15am
Yesterday was an interesting day in this trip we took a dip in the holy triveni sangam. The way one has to take the dip is actually a marvel in itself. There is actually a small wooden platform in between two boats and you are supposed to stand on it and take a dip.
We returned back to kasi from pryaga by evening 4:30. We took a short nap and went out for shopping. We were back by 8:30 PM. While on our way back we had a couple of lassis each and bought some fresh, out of the oven biscuits and cookies. Then we called it a day.
Now we are gearing for the final big moment , we are going to Mahamangala haarthi seva again and we are planning to perform abhishekam. Plan is to take another dip in the ganga at kedar ghat after the darshan , maybe possibly another boat ride :-).
We will all have to packup by 12, have lunch and then proceed to the airport and then come back to the material world.
Well that was the last post I did from Varanasi.
That morning was quite eventful too. We had I guess the best anyone can ask from any darshan and abhishekam. After that we went to Vishalakshi temple and waited for the doors to open. Offered our sincere prayers to mother as her first pilgrims for the day. After the darshan as Ravindra and my brother were taking rest, me and rangu gave up all worldly possessions in the room and went to the kedar ghat to take a dip with just clothes on and a towel to wipe. Spent 15mins again in the mother's lap. We left the ghat asking for permission to revisit the mother.
Later we came back to the mission and started packing our bags. I had severe headache while on the way back. With some kind help of the ground staff of spicejet I had a disprin and was back rocking in a couple of hours.
I will be posting another blog explaining to newbies about how to plan for the varanasi trip , precautions to take and how to enjoy the experience.