Morning in Banaras is a mesmerizing experience


With the aid of UP Tourism and Lonely Planet Magazine India, I recently visited Varanasi. Subah-e-Banaras, which literally translates to “a morning in Varanasi or Banaras,” was on our itinerary.

By some turn of the imagination, I am not a morning person. When I’m told to get up at 4 a.m. and meet in the lobby, I scream and sob. At any risk, I do not want to leave my cosy hotel room so early! However, getting up at 4 a.m. is needed to enjoy something remotely related to sunrise. And by the end, I was ecstatic to have had the opportunity to visit Subah-e-Banaras. It was the most memorable part of my trip to Varanasi.


At the Assi Ghat, the event begins with Ganga Aarti. The winter hours are 5.40 a.m. to 7 a.m., while the summer hours are 5.00 a.m. to 7 a.m. The chairs placed near the stage can be used by those who arrive early. Otherwise, people congregate on the stairwell. The organisers will gladly assist with photography as long as you do not stand directly in front of the stage where the aarti is performed. Just the key aarti drew us in.


We descended the stairs to the Ganga after the main aarti was completed. Experience Varanasi’s Kunal arranged for two large boats for our party. As I previously said, I am normally grumpy in the morning, but the aarti itself was a wake-up call. I felt relaxed and happy after the boat trip.


Starting the boat ride before sunrise and slowly seeing the ghats come to life is a little surreal. A common tourist activity is to take a boat ride on the Ganga early in the morning.


The river is home to Black Headed Gulls in the winter. Tourists can purchase bird feed from boats. The birds converge from all directions if a boat scatters feed in the sea!

The buildings along the ghats were throwing beautiful reflections on the river by the time the sun came out! I liked the golden light, and there were also reds at another intersection.

Banaras, also known as Kashi, is one of the world’s oldest living cities. As the boat passes by the ghats, the scene changes in five minutes, from devout pilgrims taking a dip to the sound of temple bells, to funeral pyres burning at the next ghat! Passing by life and death at such close quarters emphasises the ever-present fact that life is simply too short!

Our boat docked back at the Assi Ghat, and we walked to the Tulsidas Akhara while I was still marvelling at the proximity of life and beyond on the ghats of Varanasi. Local wrestling academies, known as akharas, have a long history. I was delighted to meet the students, especially Anjali, the Akhara’s female student. We saw a couple of wrestling matches.

Siyaram ji is one of the Tulsidas Akhara’s teachers. He’s 65 years old, but he’s got the vitality of a half-dozen! He honed his skills with the gada like a pro! With the promise of a local breakfast, our guide had to persuade us to leave the place.

At the Sri Ram Bhandar, the morning was appropriately concluded with a breakfast of Sabzi, Puri, and Jalebi. It was a delectable event! Such unpretentious food appeals to me!

It was enjoyable for me to surprise the locals by conversing with them in Bhojpuri, as my hometown is Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. After such a long time, it was actually a pleasure to talk Bhojpuri again!

I am not a morning person; I am typically irritable at the start of the day, particularly if it begins at 4 a.m. For me, four is the end of the day! Regardless, I had a great time with the Subah-e-Baranas. It’s something I’d strongly suggest. Getting up early in the morning to enjoy the ancient city’s pace is well worth it!