Witnessing the spectacular Ganga aarti at the Dashaswamedha Ghat, Varanasi

Dashaswamedha Ghat, Varanasi

Banaras me toh Ganga bhi ulti behti hai‘, a colloquial adage meaning here in Banaras, even the mighty Ganges flows in reverse. In Banaras or Varanasi, as it is presently called, river Ganga takes a crescent-shaped turn towards the north, an aberration in the southward flow of the river which originates in the laps of the mighty Himalayas and traverses the Gangetic plain before flowing into Bangladesh and eventually into the Bay of Bengal. Long ago, on the banks of this turn, a legendary city was established; a city that epitomized spirituality and survived long enough to be regarded as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Read more

Manikarnika & Harishchandra: My experience of the cremation ghats in Varanasi

Manikarnika Ghat

Manikarnika Ghat is among the oldest and most revered ghats of Varanasi. This is one of the two cremation ghats in Varanasi and is believed to be the most auspicious place for a Hindu to be cremated which leads to attainment moksha. Legends mention that Lord Vishnu meditated at this ghat and also established a kunda where Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati is believed to have taken bath. Daily, over 300 bodies are cremated here round the clock and the fire of Manikarnika has never extinguished in thousands of years. So those who are cremated here are essentially cremated from the same fire that cremated their ancestors through generations. Read more

Prayagraj #2 – History lessons and a spiritual dip at the Sangam

Khusru Bagh, Prayagraj

Prayagraj, earlier known as Allahabad is a town in north India situated at the confluence of there revered rivers of Hinduism – the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati. This is also one of the four sites where Kumbh Mela, the largest religious congregation is organized once in every 12 years which witnesses millions of Hindu devotees and ascetics visit the town and take a dip at the holy confluence called the Sangam. The strategic location of the town between two gigantic rivers prompted Mughal emperor Akbar to build his fort here in the banks of river Yamuna close to the Sangam. Read more

Prayagraj #1 – My first impression of the town, its people and culture

Prayagraj

Year-end trips are always tricky to plan. Once you join the corporate world, the biggest hurdle in planning a trip is to get the requisite number of leaves. Not only that, all the effort and money you put in to plan a trip can fall apart with two dreaded words – “business requirement”; those who have been a part of Indian corporates need no explanation to this and those not a part of it – don’t bother. Read more