Subah-e-Banaras and Shaam-e-Awadh – the saying literally translates into the two most beautiful things to witness in the world, are a morning in Benaras and an evening in Lucknow. A morning in Varanasi promises to be the most action packed experience you are sure to have in all of India.
Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and is a city that is of supreme importance for every devout Hindu. Which means that Varanasi and its people place a strong emphasis in religiously practicing their rituals. The rituals begin just before dawn. Some of them carry on through the day and are scheduled for different times of the day. The last of the rituals is around sunset.
What Is The Subah-e-Benaras experience?
The Subah-e-Banaras is essentially a 45 minute long Ganga Aarti. The aarti takes place at Assi Ghat and is an offering of prayer to both the Sun God and the Holy River Ganga. The aarti is an extremely surreal experience and is performed diligently every single day of the year.
Exploring Varanasi And Its Many Ghats
Post you’ve witnessed the magical Subah-e-Banaras Aarti, and as the sun is just about to rise over this beautiful city of lights, head to a voyage on the Ganges. One of the most beautiful aspects of the morning in Varanasi is that the Aarti is not attended by massive crowds, so your most religious devotees will be in attendance. The city is still just waking up for another eventful day.
We recommend hiring the services of a guide on your boat ride, as he explains the significance of the various ghats in Varanasi. The city has 88 ghats in total. They’re either a place of worship or an entry point for bathing in the Ganges.
The main ghats in Varanasi are the Dasashwamedha Ghat. A ghat Lord Brahma (the creator) built for Lord Shiva (the destroyer) and performed a Yajna by offering a sacrifice of ten horses. This ghat is arguably the most spectacular and is home to the vibrant evening Ganga Aarti.
Assi ghat, the place where you will attend the Subah-e-Banaras ceremony, was once the southern boundary of the old city, the confluence of River Ganga and the now dry River Assi. The ghat is also best connected to BHU (Banaras Hindu University).
Keep an eye out for two very important ghats, Manikarnika and Harischandra. As soon as the sun is up and the day has begun, these ghats start accommodating rituals of cremation, where the cremation by fire begins. The belief is that if you are cremated in Kashi (Varanasi), you are separated from the cycle of reincarnation and you attain Moksha, attainment of the soul. While on your boatride, you will witness a lot of temple bells around the ghats being rung in a call for Aarti. You will also be greeted by the sight of countless devotees taking their morning dip in the holy river praying to the Sun.
Once you have finished your boat ride, you will most likely find yourself at either Raj Ghat or Dasashwamedha Ghat. Get to exploring the beautiful alleyways of Varanasi. The city’s charm is not lost on anyone who has visited it. All the early morning exploration is sure to work up an appetite. So grab some traditional Banarasi breakfast like Aloo Kachori, Jalebi and Chai. A breakfast that is rich and simple both at the same time.
Explore the famous Akhadas of Benaras too. These are athletes who practice Kushti (wrestling). What is a sport for us is an art form for them. The devotion, their discipline and the whole experience of spending time in the Akhada, even exercising with them is great for the mind, the soul and even the body. Considering that you would be indulging in breakfast that’s as unhealthy as it is tasty.
To summarize, a lot of cities are known for their nightlife, but Varanasi is different and how! It is popular for its mornings. That is where the action is, and just by 10 or 11 AM, you end up gathering so much perspective on the city. It would be so fulfilling to learn why they go about diligently practicing their rituals before getting on with their lives. Something that’s beautifully symphonic with how this city manages to not only stay relevant, but also be revered over so many centuries.
Tell us what you love about Varanasi the most, if there’s something we missed or something you’re most excited to do when you’re there.