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by wowmagazine

What began as an aimless three-day sojourn in Banaras turned into a raw love affair with the sacred and the unknown. Going past the chaos of the traffic and everyday meandering of the city dwellers are the gallis, ghats and the endless Ganga which is the soul of the city. This is a place that will either captivate your soul or become just another place to mark off your list of must visit destinations.

For me Banaras is as much about its people, its stories as it is about its history and religious significance. If you can delve into the spirit of Banaras, you stand raw and naked in your own being. It has been the land walked by some of the greatest yogis, mystics, writers, poets, seers, musicians and spiritual seekers of time. It is also a great seat of modern learning being home to the renowned Banaras Hindu University.

As you walk the ghats, you transcend time, and amidst the rituals and sadhus and sounds of bells, chants and prayers, you come alive to something that goes beyond words and feelings. It is to know that you are just a speck in this wide cosmos, and yet you have been given this life with a purpose. I stood lost in time and the hours slowed down magically, and I knew that Banaras as a place was more my journey of self-discovery.

Regardless of what we call it: Banaras, Varanasi or Kashi, it is beautiful, colourful, evocative, intriguing, repugnant and bewildering. Whatever your belief, whatever your faith, it will not leave you untouched. It will challenge you to recognize the divine in a space that you least expect it to, and in a way that is not easy.
Mark Twain perhaps described it best when he said: Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.

This is the place where Gods did not want to leave. The word Kashi means to be luminous. Sadhguru shares that “to create a city like this is a mad ambition – and they did it thousands of years ago. There were 72,000 shrines, the same as the number of nadis in the human body. The whole process is like a manifestation of a “mega human body” to make contact with a larger cosmic body’.

I lost my heart to Banaras and I found myself in Kashi.

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