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Varanasi is located on the left bank of the Ganges River, which is the holiest river in Hinduism. The most important part of the city is along the riverfront, where there are many shrines, temples, and staircases to the water known as Ghats, where people will come to bathe in the holy water of the river. The best way to experience this is by boat at sunrise, when the city comes alive along the riverbank. There are so many vibrant colours that stimulate the senses. It is also where I took one of my favourite pictures of all time, of a Kingfisher sitting on a rope along the Ganges River.

You haven’t experienced the city until you’ve seen it from the water. Varanasi is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world dating back to the 11th century BC. It is one of the holiest cities in Hinduism; Mythology says it was founded by Shiva and is one of the 7 holiest cities in India. There are over 20,000 temples in the city, and over 1 million pilgrims come here to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges each year. There is something magical about the city that you can sense but not see.

It is one of the most colourful places I’ve ever been to, with so much history to get lost in, the city tells an incredible story. Mark Twain described Varanasi as being “older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Along with the many tourists that come here, it is a major pilgrimage site for Hindu’s who come from across India to visit the Ganges River. There are several important Ghats – the large staircases that lead from the city directly into the water – where locals and pilgrims arrive in the waters.

The smell of smoke is everywhere, a permanent haze in the air, and the morbid realization that you are inhaling the remains of someone who has recently been cremated. Varanasi is where many come to die. To be cremated here along the banks of the Ganges ends the cycle of rebirth that Hindu’s believe in. For those who can not afford to be cremated, their bodies are left on the water to float to the afterworld. Despite the theme of death throughout the city, there is a lot of beauty to see as well.

It is an incredibly spiritual and unforgettable city to experience, and much like the many pilgrims that come here, a city you must visit once in your lifetime.





Kingfisher on the Ganges. 2006.


Morning on the Ganges River. 2006.


Rooftops of Varanasi. 2006.


Morning Ride on the Ganges. 2006.


Textile Manufacturers. 2006.


Colourful boats on the Ganges River. 2006.


Sunrise on the Ganges. 2006.


One of the most Colourful Ghats was the red-striped Kedar Ghat. 2006.


Bathing on the Ganges River. 2006.


Even the salesman find you on the river. 2006.


Playing Cricket on the Banks of the Ganges. 2006.


Durga Mandir Temple in Varanasi. 2006.


Morning on the Ganges. 2006.


Sunrise on the Ganges. 2006.


Varanasi Waterfront. 2006.


Munshi Ghat. 2006.


Morning on the Ganges. 2006.

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