With mystic chants and ringing bells, Varanasi is a city that bathes in the glory of the mighty Ganges (a holy river in India). This is one city in India, or perhaps the world, where you can explore what lies ahead of human intellect, cultures and even life. Varanasi (old name Benaras) is also touted as one of the seven sacred cities of ancient India and holds plenty of surprises for visitors from near and far.

Remember Julia Roberts movie, ‘Eat Pray Love’, based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel with the same name? The ‘pray’ part, when she’s in India is filmed in this magnificent city. It is also home to numerous age-old temples and is considered one of the holiest cities for the Hindu religion. This city is truly as old as time itself.

Kashi Vishwanath, dedicated to Lord Shiva (the destroyer), is the most prominent temple here. While others include Sankat Mochan, Tulsi Manas Mandir, Durga Temple, Kal Bhairav Temple, Jain shrines and many more. Most of these temples trace their roots to ancient Indian gods and goddesses and find mention in Rig Veda, one of the oldest existing texts in the world.

The city also features narrow lanes and bylanes, which will captivate your heart. While the local art and life will be simply enthralling to have a look at. In the words of Mark Twain, ‘Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together’

The most iconic part of visiting Varanasi is the aarti at the Dashashwamedha Ghat. No words can describe the immaculate ambience of this evening aarti. It's simply heaven on earth. It is said that this aarti was first performed when Lord Shiva himself visited Varanasi. You can have your ‘Tangled’ moment if you witness this scene from a boat in the middle of the river.

If you visit in March, you’ll get the chance to dance off your heart under a shower of colours, during Holi festival. Besides, during Diwali, Mahashivratri you can treat yourself to incredible sounds and sights.

Also known as the spiritual capital of the country, Varanasi is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). UP itself is known for its culinary diversity. So when you are here, make sure to try some mouth-watering local delicacies. Besides, the world-famous Banarasi silk fabrics are worth a buy.

The stone-carved artefacts will make for great souvenirs. But when you’ll go back from Varanasi, you’ll carry back a treasure trove of memories and perhaps a different outlook on life. Because, in Varanasi, a tour of a lifetime awaits you!

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