Varanasi, that place Bollywood is obsessed with and that never seems to age ever, although it is getting older every passing day, is one of the oldest living cities, and is like this mini India.
Hindus to Buddhists, Christians to Muslims, Europeans to Americans to Bhutanese, Banaras has something for everyone. If you’re a “modern” and “rational” person, this place would seem rather vague and fairy-taley to you, with all the legends and stories and histories and mythologies going on. One has to lose themselves in the narrowest lanes of this city before they can find their inner selves. Banaras isn’t a part of one’s living, it is an art of living.
You know you’re completely submerged in the Banarasi hues when:
You relate to the word Bhaukal more than Dope, Awesome and Cool
People of Banaras don’t use all those #trendy English words, they use Bhaukal.
You know that moment when you eat something lip-smackingly good or when someone asks you about how you’ve been after a long while, Bhaukal fits in everywhere and will give you more satisfaction than any of those English exclamation words. It just feels more homely. It’s #desiswag.
Little tip for whenever you decide to be in Banaras, use the word Bhaukal often and people will smile at you with a little more warmth
Ghats are your place to socialize and chill
Unlike the on-going pub and club culture everywhere, you’d rather walk through those narrow lanes and sit on the ghats to chill, doesn’t matter if you’re alone or have company. That sunrise at the ghats (even better from the Mahals on ghats), hundreds of boats and ferries, people from anywhere and everywhere- be it the locals or people coming from the other side of the world, the lemon tea walas, you have such a wide spectrum of lives to choose and socialize with. Everyone is so friendly and ready to share their stories if you want to approach them.
Also, have you seen how much space there is on the ghats for that cricket match or for a small gave of badminton?!
You wait all year long for that special Malaiyyo in the winters
Malaiyyo is the special sweet-dish made in Banaras only in the winter season. It is made out of milk and foam and dews… strange combination eh?
As interesting as it looks, the process of making it is even more fascinating. Ask any local vendor with heaps of malaiyyo showcased in their display how it’s made and they’ll be more than happy to tell the tale behind it. Don’t be mistaken by its size, its mostly foam and every scoop weighs like air. Also, the flavored milk they give when midway your foam journey, tastes like heaven. And if you take it from an authentic banarasi shop, they’ll accompany it all with a spoon of rabri!
The Ganga Artis cast a spell on you
Every evening on the selected ghats, the ones at Dashashwamedh and Assi being the most famous, Ganga Arti is performed. Being a primary Hindu Spiritual place, this Arti has more of a symbolic importance to most people, but is also comes as a treat to your eyes. The pandits wear special costumes and the whole Arti is a one hour ritual which constitutes various stages of fire-play. You can buy the floating candles or diyas and add to the hundreds of them floating over the Ganga at night, light lanterns or just sit somewhere and take in the aesthetic and the aura of the place. Beware! You might not realise how the time passes here, it can cast a spell on your soul.
Things aren’t as… umm… illegal here
Banaras is the land of Lord Shiva, the Hindu God whose devotees worship Him by offering Him a glass of bhang.
Be it weed or bhang or hash, people here do it out of devotion for their Lord! Thandai is a special drink made out of milk, sugar, kesar and bhang, basically. People don’t give you the stares or judge you for smoking weed in public or even drinking thandai, since its legal to sell thandai in most Banarasi thandai shops. Its very common to walk past a public road and smell joint and it’s not much of a taboo here. Also, the prices here are pretty cheap and won’t lose your pocket.
Your love for this city is inexplicable
They say, once you reside in Banaras, you fall in love with it deeply. The connection with the city, its stories, its history, its people is inevitable and immortal. Even if one leaves the city, the city never lets go of them. It stays as a feeling embedded inside and probably teaches you more than any other place, about life and how beautiful it can be.