/ Adventure Travel
adventure — By Vawn on April 2, 2010 at 1:55 am
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Photo opp: The ghats of Varanasi

It’s the iconic image of India – pilgrims washing away their sins in the holy River Ganges in Varanasi. The best time to take photos (or simply soak up the atmosphere) is sunrise or sunset.

If you can manage to rouse yourself for a 5:30am start, head down to the ghats (the steps or landings beside the river) where you can hire a boat or walk along the ghats if the water level is low enough. In the morning, you’ll see people taking a ritual bath, doing yoga and washing clothes. At night, you’ll see more elaborate river worship ceremonies and pilgrims performing puja (offerings or prayers).

There are more than 80 ghats lining the riverside. Here are just a few highlights:

Dasaswamedh Ghat – This is considered one of the liveliest ghats. At 7pm, join the crowds to watch priests perform river worship ceremonies involving fire and dance.

Assi Ghat – One of the biggest and most important ghats, pilgrims come here to worship a Shiva lingam (a phallic image of Shiva).

Bachraj Ghat – This ghat consists of three Jain temples, a Shiva temple and a mansion built by Nepalese royalty in the 19th Century.

Tulsi Ghat – Though in disrepair, if you happen to be here during Kartika (generally the October/November timeframe), come here to catch a festival devoted to Krishna.

Someswar Ghat – Known as “Lord of the Moon,” this ghat is said to heal diseases.

Manikarnika Ghat – This is the main ghat for cremations (a second site is Harishchandra Ghat), where dead bodies are bathed in the Ganges before being burned on a pile of wood. It’s prohibited to take photos at the cremation sites.

Photo Credit @ 2010 VH Media

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