Varanasi travel guide

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If music is in your soul, Varanasi is your new place of worship.

Some say Varanasi is the Venice of the east because of its small, winding streets and boat tours. One of the longest-inhabited cities in the world, Varanasi lies alongside the Ganges River in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The energy from aeons of poets, musicians, philosophers, and holy seers saturates the air. Varanasi even has its own style of Hindustani music, and every single night there is a religious ceremony to put the River Ganga to sleep. In the ghats of Varanasi, daily rituals like singing and cleansing the body take place. One of the most unforgettable and affecting rituals is the burning of dead bodies on the banks of the river. The clothed body is carried up high through the streets that lead to these ghats, accompanied by drummers and other musicians. Once ritually immersed in the Ganges, the body is placed on a wood pyre and burnt at the edge of the Ganges. That said, Varanasi is not a city for relaxation, to escape the intensity of India, it is a place to immerse yourself in the most beautiful (and often haunting) parts of Indian culture. This city is a must-visit for music lovers and a great place for anyone to learn how to play the tabla or the sitar. If you get a chance, stay in a monastery. Varanasi is a spiritual center for all religions, not just Hinduism. Varanasi is sometimes referred to as the "city of temples"; in fact, there are temples centering on many cultures, and people travel from all over the globe to visit some of these holy places. Varanasi is also a jumping-off point for those interested in a meditative journey to the nearby town of Bodh Gaya, where the Bodhi Tree stands. You know, where Buddha found enlightenment?

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