MY VIEW: Why I Want To Spend My Whole Life In Varanasi

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A South African came to Varanasi and said, “I can spend my whole life in Varanasi, I am amazed.” Explore the holy city of Uttar Pradesh through his amazing photos.

I can’t believe I am living in one of the most wonderful cities in India at the moment. Varanasi is well known as the holy city of India, the city of Shiva and one of the oldest cities in the world.

There is a unique thing about Varanasi, as you walk you will see that the buildings and streets of Varanasi are very old, dating back hundreds of years, and still in use.

It’s great to see something like this, and to experience it.

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A lot of people come to Varanasi from all over the world for spiritual experiences or just to see this place, it’s beautiful beyond words. There are different kind of things you can do in the city, especially exploring its amazing temples.

The city has more than 100 Ghats (a series of steps leading down to a body of water) leading to the Ganges. They use them for performing ceremonies most of the time, and a lot of them are also used as cremation sites. Most of the Ghats here in Varanasi are built after 1700 AD and a lot of Indian people take bath in the holy river.

It’s special to be here in the oldest city of India, to explore the city and the Hindu culture.

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When you study more about Varanasi you will find out that it’s the main capital of Hinduism in India.  You will see a lot of foreigners coming to experience the culture, learning the language or just meeting the people, because they will have a lot of stories to tell their friends when they go back.

The morning boat ride on the Ganges across the Ghats is a popular visitors’ attraction.You can see most of the places here on a boat in the late evening or early morning during sunrise, which is the best time to see Varanasi.

It is an amazing feeling to witness the beautiful city, especially when you share the experience with other people and not keep the moments to yourself. You need to wake up about five in the morning to see the mesmerizing sunrise.

The one thing I learned about the culture of Varanasi is, they are very warm and welcoming. For example, they will invite you to eat lunch with them, have a conversation and experience their culture.

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When you drive in the streets of Varanasi you can smell the food the people are making and all the curry. The unique transport you get here in Varanasi is the cycle rickshaw, that’s one of the cheapest transports you can take here. You can just relax on the back of the cycle rickshaw and tell the guy where you want to go and he will take you there.

I was amazed one day when I saw the milk man came and deliver milk at different places of Varanasi. They use to carry the milk on their bicycle and deliver it at different kind of places here. It’s amazing to see something like that. I have never felt unsafe or threatened in Varanasi.

I can spend my whole life in Varanasi. I am just amazed by this place.

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People have asked me if staying a few months in Varanasi is not too long, but to be honest no I don’t think it’s too long to stay in this city and to explore it. Because every day when you are staying in this city, there is something new to see.

The one thing that I see different here that I haven’t seen in other cities is probably the traffic. The accidents I have seen here are not a lot. But that’s hard to believe when you see how they are driving here, especially when you come from another country.

So if there’s one thing you definitely need to get used to in Varanasi, it’s the traffic. I don’t have enough words to tell people how it is if you haven’t seen it for yourself!

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There are all kinds of different food options you get here where you can eat from street food to a choice of restaurants. My future plan is definitely to bring short term groups here and to show them what is going on here in Varanasi and how they can see a different side of it.

– Jaco Swanepoel

Like this story? Or have something to share? Write to us: [email protected], or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter (@thebetterindia).

About the Author: Jaco Swanepoel is a 24-year old from South Africa who is working with teenagers there while also filming and travelling all over the world. He has been to 9 nations already, and is staying in India for 3 months now, though he feels its been much longer. He will be traveling all over India, including Varanasi, Delhi, etc. He truly loves India, and says, “I will give away my life for this country. It’s beautiful beyond words.” He can be reached at  [email protected]

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