Varanasi Photo Feature – Ghats of Varanasi
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” said Marcel Proust. Anyone who has been to Varnasi will tell you about life in small lanes where you can barely stand with men, cows, dogs, bikes, autos jostling with each other for space. While Ganga forms the face of Varanasi, this is where the real town lives and breathes. So, here is a Varanasi Photo feature – showcasing vignettes in the gullies and ghats of Varanasi
Death and life are two sides of the same coin in Varanasi. Faith is the lifeline of the people who head here. Hope is their salvation. There is a Moksh Bhavan where the old, the sick, the uncared and the lonely live, waiting for death. And even as death beckons people here, I see life unfolding in the city . An early morning scene at the Varanasi ghats.
Watching the little rosy ball of sun emerging from the Ganges, throwing his coat of pink on her waters, I realize Varanasi is a city of contrasts. The ghats of Varanasi come alive then
There is a pristine silence that echoes through the river.
The ghats of Varanasi are lit, the sun’s rays stroke the monuments. Music is in the air. The devout dip in the Ganges, hoping she would absolve them of their sins, while the not so devout pose for a few notes of money.The ghats of Varanasi are filled with them.
Death maybe a way of life here but Varanasi is different things to different people.
It is the holy city,the city of the unholy, the city of death, the city of salvation, the city blinding you with colours, the city crippled with dirt and dust, the city bubbling with energy, the city where life stands still, the which is timeless, the city where the old and the sick wait for time to beckon them, the city where faith is intoxicating, the city where people look for intoxicants, the city of music, the city of noise.
Chaos and silence go hand in hand. Life sometimes begins here when someone’s life ends. Even in death, the wheels are set to motion. Bodies make a beeline to the ghats. The transcience of life is permanently etched in my mind.
Travel is all about capturing the essence of the place by observing, absorbing and discovering different perspectives and you can get a feel of it in the Varanasi ghats.
And all that you need sometimes is just a new pair of lens to aid you in documenting your experience in a destination.
My travel companion in Varanasi was Honor 5C, a sleek, lightweight and stylish phone with a 5.2 inch display where the colours came alive through its lens.The most important feature for a travel photographer is the design of a phone. I hate carrying anything bulky and large and it needs to fit into my pocket when I travel. The Honor 5C is perfect – lightweight and sits snugly in my pocket. The second important feature is the battery life. I have worked with several smart phones whose battery dies after I shoot a few videos and share them on instagram. This phone did not die on me, especially when I needed it the most.
And now, for the camera. It is the era of videos. In addition to the video mode, you have a PRO video mode too and a slow motion video mode as well. And my favorite modes are the HDR and the Good Food mode and if you have time, you can try the PRO mode as well. For the selfie generation, there is a beauty mode as well and it offers you 10 different settings within it. With a 78° wide-angle 5-element (5P) macro lens in the rear camera you get great images . The rear camera is 13 MP with F2.0 aperture and the front camera is 8MP with aperture setting of F 2.0 and 77° wide-angle lens.
I have worked with Huawei before, especially the P9 that comes with a pair of Leica lens. And I created a photofeature of Indonesia with this phone.
As a travel photographer, every street in a city speaks to me – the colours, the flavours, the energy, the emotions, the culture . And these phones are great companions to capture the spirit of any destination.
Places to visit in Varanasi
Varanasi also referred to as Banaras or Kashi is a pilgrimage destination and is synonymous with the Ganges. Over 2000 temples line the town, some of them are in the Varanasi ghats while the others are in the city. The main temples are Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the Kala Bhairava Temple, the Durga Temple, the Sankat Vimochan temple among others.
There are over 80 Varanasi ghats and each ghat tells a story. Kings of yore, saints and poets have lent their names to the ghats. Dasashawamedh Ghat is one of the oldest ghats here while Manikarnika Ghat is where the funeral rites began. There is also the Harishchandraghat as well where bodies are cremated.Walking along the ghats of Varanasi is the best way to experience the rhythm of life and death here.
Kashi Naresh is the main king of Varanasi although it is believed that Shiva founded the city. A dip in the Ganges is believed to purge you of sins while people flock here to die, hoping to get salvation from next rebirth. The Ramnagar Fort, the Benaras Hindu University are some of the must see places to visit in Varanasi.
Hotels at Varanasi
Although the five star hotels are located at Cantonment, it is better if you stay near the Varanasi ghats to get a better experience of Varanasi. Assi Ghat is much quieter than the rest of the ghats and you can find hostels, Bed and Breakfasts, homestays and hotels at Varanasi here.
Best time to visit Varanasi – Dev Diwali
Winters are the best time to visit Varanasi for a traveller . The Ram Leela during Dussehra attracts a lot of tourists. But the city comes alive during Dev Deepavali or Dev Diwali that starts today on the eve of Karthik Poornima and lasts for ten days. The ghats of Varanasi are beautifully lit . There is also Ganga Mahotsav that is celebrated during October-November every year.
This post was written in partnership with Huawei, Honor 5C. All photographs are shot with this smart phone.