A Journey Through Varanasi, a City of Life and Death, in Photos

View of Varanasi, India

View of Varanasi, India

People from around India come to Varanasi for the Ganges River, and life (and death) in the city revolves around the river.

Taking a nap with a nice view of Varanasi

Taking a nap with a nice view of Varanasi

You’ll find sadhus, or Hindu holy men, throughout Varanasi, often napping in the sunshine or deep in meditation.

Washing clothes in the Ganges River

Washing clothes in the Ganges River

There’s nothing better to do when you’re in Varanasi than walk along the Ganges river. Doing laundry is also a popular activity.

Colorful Kedar Ghat

Colorful Kedar Ghat

Ghats are a series of steps that lead down to a river, and in Varanasi you’ll find ghats continuously along the river. One of my favorites, for its beautiful painted steps, is Kedar Ghat.

Colors of Varanasi, India

Colors of Varanasi, India

Like in all of India, Varanasi is full of color. From the colors painted on buildings to the clothing of pilgrims, you’ll be immersed in colors when in Varanasi.

Stopping for a break in Varanasi

Stopping for a break in Varanasi

Taking a seat on a step and watching life and death happen is one of the most incredible things to do in Varanasi.

Funeral in the early morning in Varanasi, India

Funeral in the early morning in Varanasi, India

Though you can go to one of the burning ghats and see bodies being burned (I didn’t take any photos), you can also see funerals taking place where a body is just sunk to the botton of the river. Here’s a funeral I witnessed along the ghat early one morning.

Watch my Varanasi video to see more of this ceremony.

Drinking from the Ganges River

Drinking from the Ganges River

People not only bathe and wash their clothes in the Ganges river, but it’s also consumed!

Morning boat ride

Morning boat ride

Taking a morning sunrise boat ride is a great way to see Varanasi waking up and to observe rituals and traditions taking place along the banks of the river.

Morning ceremony along the Ganges River

Morning ceremony along the Ganges River

Every night, and also in the morning (but less), there’s a ceremony to honor the Ganges river. It involves lots of burning incense and fire.

Shrine in Varanasi

Shrine in Varanasi

Throughout Varanasi you’ll see many interesting shrines.

A peaceful nap!

A peaceful nap!

You can really sit or lay down and take a nap wherever you please in Varanasi. This man just decided to take a nap in a cage… why not!?

A posing sadhu in Varanasi

A posing sadhu in Varanasi

Like I mentioned above, all over Varanasi there are many sadhu holy men. Sometimes they ask for their photos to be taken in exchange for a few Rupees.

Kissed by a goat!

Kissed by a goat!

Even if a goat starts licking your face, just keep on snoozing!

Dead monkey in Varanasi

Dead monkey in Varanasi

While walking along the main road of Varanasi, I came across a dead monkey. People would passby and toss coins as the monkey rest.

Ganges River and the Ancient Lanes

Ganges River and the Ancient Lanes

Exploring the Ganges River and the ancient narrow alleys are the highlights of visiting Varanasi.

Boat in Varanasi, India

Boat in Varanasi, India

A very colorful boat full of people in Varanasi, India.

Peanut man and green pea man

Peanut man and green pea man

If you get onto some of the main streets in Varanasi, you’ll find all sorts of delicious street food. During my stay, I frequented the peanut man and the green pea man.

Exploring the streets of Varanasi, India

Exploring the streets of Varanasi, India

Varanasi is a great place to get lost in the craziness and just explore the city.

Tasty snacks in Varanasi, India

Tasty snacks in Varanasi, India

You’ll find lots of delicious food in Varanasi too!

If you plan to visit Varanasi, be sure to check out tips and information on my Varanasi travel guide.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’ve never been to India never mind Varanasi, but looking at your photos, I felt like I was there, Mark! I love how you really captured the spirit of the place and I really look forward to getting to see this wondrous city one day with my own eyes!

  2. says

    Crikey, intense! I’ve never been to India, but hopefully one day I will go. I need to mentally prepare myself for that many people though. Great photos!

  3. says

    Varanasi is one of my fave places on Earth. It may not be exactly as beautiful as other places but it’s unique and photogenic in my opinion. There’s always something going on in every corner.

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