"VARANASI BENARES KASHI" Varanasi by vaticanus
Varanasi Travel Guide: 655 reviews and 1,535 photos
Are there not many holy places on this earth?
Yet which of them would equal in the balance one speck of Kashi’s dust?
Are there not many rivers running to the sea?
Yet which of them is like the River of Heaven in Kashi?
Are there not many fields of liberation on earth?
Yet not one equals the smallest part of the city never forsaken by Shiva.
The Ganges, Shiva, and Kashi: Where this Trinity is watchful,
no wonder here is found the grace that leads one on to perfect bliss.
Kashi Kanda 35: 7-10
The Ganges Front is the supreme showplace of Benares. Its tall bluffs are solidly caked from water to summit, along a stretch of three miles, with a splendid jumble of massive and picturesque masonry, a bewildering and beautiful confusion of stone platforms, temples, stair flights, rich and stately palaces–nowhere a break, nowhere a gimpse of the bluff itself; all the long face of it is compactly walled from sight by this crammed perspective of platforms, soaring stairways, sculptured temples, majestic palaces, softening away into the distances; and there is movement, motion, human life everywhere, and brilliantly costumed–streaming in rainbows up and down the lofty stairways, and massed in metaphorical gardens on the miles of great platforms at the river’s edge.
From Mark Twain's Following The Equator 496
At first light, thousands of Hindus come down to the river to bathe in the waters of Mother Ganges- for many this trip has taken years to save up for and its religious importance compares to the journey to Mecca for Moslems or the sacraments of baptism and communion for the Christian.
Tourists crowd into boats to witness this event from the river. To block them from approaching too close- all of the boats not filled with tourists are pulled up to the shore.
The different stairways that line the banks of the Ganges on the city side are called Ghats- like the mountains. The Ganges in full flood rises up many of the stairs. Different ghats are used by different classes of pilgrims.
A book I highly suggest you look at if you are interested in more information about Varanasi is Diana Eck. Bararas: City of Light
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