Varanasi - Spiritual capital of India

Back in August 2012 I was named the winner of Sunday Times London 2012 photo competition. My prize was a photographic trip to Varanasi India, in the company of Jon Nicholson, the official Olympics photographer as a guest of tour operator Abecrombie and Kent.
I could choose one person who was going with me to enjoy photographing Varansi. India is very familiar to me as my husband is Indian and we visit India quiet often, but we never been to Varanasi before.

Varansi, more known as Banaras in India, is the holiest, the oldest continuously inhibited city in the world and the oldest in India. Hindus believe that death in Varanasi brings a moksha (salvation). The city lies on the banks of Ganges, which is the most sacred river to Hindus.They believe that taking a dip in the river will clean thoroughly their bodies as well as their souls. Most popular place to do that is a ghat. In Varanasi itself there is almost 100 ghats, steps leading to the river Ganges. 

I clearly remember the day Sunday Times called to inform me that I'm the winner. I could not believe that. The competition was open for seven months, each month there was one monthly winner chosen and few runners-up. All winners and runners-up from each month entered in to the final, where Jon Nicholson was one of the judges and chose my picture of London out of over 1000 pictures in total, as the one who was going to Varanasi with him! That was a great experience so I would like to share it with you.

September 2012, first day we arrived in New Delhi, got transferred to our hotel, The Taj Palace. Spent a night there so the next day we could take our flight to our main destination Varanasi.

It was a hot afternoon when we arrived in Varanasi. After checking in at out hotel we had a relaxing day, wandering around river front and back streets. 

It was a early start on the second day, we had to get up very early in the morning to get to the ghats before sunrise for the morning bathing rituals. The sun was perfect, making the people's skin gold.

Afternoon the same day we went to ashrams, to visit the sadhu babas, the holy men of Varanasi. They chose to live a life apart from society in order to focus on their own spiritual practise. 

That night we saw Aarti, a ceremony that take place every sunset, in which candlelight is offered to the deities. It's a spectacular a must-see for those who visits Varansi.

The next morning we went to see a traditional wrestling match. First all wrestler were warming up in their 'gym' and then after all preparations and change of clothes they started to fight. 

Wandering around small streets of Varansi is a great experience. The streets may be a bit confusing but don't worry, because before or later you will find a way to waterfront or to the main street. 

The last day we took a boat at the waterfront to see how all this looks like from other perspective. And we were not disappointed at all.

The whole trip was a great experience. Loads of photography tips from Jon, who visited India loads if times before. It was just an amazing trip. After visiting Varanasi we thanked Jon for such a great and amazing experience and we took our flight to Kolkata, India, while Jon moved to Bhutan. 

Thank you

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  1. Nice sharing! This blog is very informative about the culture lifestyle and tradition of Indian people. I have been to India just before my recent bus tours dc with a friend. I use to visit Kashmir and Taj Mahal. Both areas are incredible attractions in India.

  2. Lovely pics, very original. Viewing the holy Ghats from a boat and taking a dip in the Ganges are considered as one of the 'must experienced' things in one's lifetime. Sari connoisseurs will have a field day here selecting some of the finest silks Varanasi is known for. Check out all amenities, tariff and reviews of hotel HHI Varanasi, a 3 star hotel in Varanasi.

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  4. This is really a wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing your information and photos with us. Keep posting like this.