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Formerly known as Benares and Kashi, the city of Varanasi is the oldest and most sacred city in India, and is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Hindu legend has it that Varanasi is the center of the universe, the first city created by the gods on Earth. Mark Twain after visiting Varanasi had this to say, "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together."
It is the Ghats of Varanasi that complement the concept of divinity. Ghats are wide stone steps leading down to the river where people can take a holy dip. But there are more to these Ghats than just bathing and cremating. Ghats of Ganges are perhaps the holiest spots of Varanasi. Almost always full of pilgrims the ghats offer a panoramic view of the various early morning activities - from ablution to workout - of a multitude of people, for whom the river is the be all and end all of life. It's also a pleasure to walk down the entire stretch of the Ghats along the Ganges. Here people consult the astrologers under their palm leaf parasols, buy offerings for rituals, sell silk apparels and brassware, or just gaze at the faraway horizon where the mighty river meets the heavens.
Viewing the Ghats from a boat on the Ganges, especially at sunrise, is an unforgettable experience! This picture is from one such boatride and the light was particularly good on this occasion.

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Additional Photos by Sabyasachi Talukdar (sabyasachi1212) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3140 W: 281 N: 5210] (19779)
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