As a travel writer armed with a camera and an intent to document a place as real as possible, there are a few places that stands out and remains within my memory as crystal clear, as if it happened only yesterday. I could still hear the touts bugging me with “Hello boat?”, their way of offering their overpriced boat services along the Ganges river fronting the historic Ghats. For all the annoyance of the tourist trade in Varanasi, the place itself which overflows with spirituality and visual spectacle, will make anybody with a camera busy shooting at many fascinating subjects.
I remember satisfying all my senses – something that echoes what a few friends have told me: “India will challenge all your senses, especially Varanasi.” The sights, sounds and smell coupled with the passing winter wind all combined to provide me with a very memorable experience. Witnessing various religious activities along the Ghats fronting rows of architecturally gifted temples, both abandoned and still commissioned, gave me a thrilling front seat to a wondrous vibe as our boat set sails over the sacred river of the Ganges River.
I tried hard not to be overly-concentrated on my camera so as not to miss seeing all the bustle and human movement with my own eyes. Still, my camera was able to capture many fascinating images. As the sun over Ganga rises and the colors of the temples and the Ghats turned from red to gold, the smoke emanating from the burning ghat, where the cremations are held everyday becomes a sight to behold – both in a mystifying and interesting way.
As a traveler and a photographer, a place like Varanasi satisfied me in a myriad of ways: From people-watching, to architecture, to learning amazing facts about a new religion, culture and history. The photographs I took barely scratched the surface of my overall experience. But through my words, I hope you will be enticed to pack your backpack, grab your camera and discover a place like Varanasi.