Varanasi the Spiritual Capital – An Introduction. This is an introduction to the Spiritual Capital of the World -Varanasi. Actually to depict Varanasi through few words and images is quite impossible. I have visited several times to Varanasi to take the essence of the city.
It is the holiest of the 7 Holy cities in India. Death in Varanasi brings salvation (moksha). This means the cycle of reincarnation ends. One of the oldest city in the World is Varanasi. One of the Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva – Viswanath another side the resonance of the holy Siddhas who did their penance and staying at this holy place. Different Maths, different Sanyasi or Monks not only from Dashanami Sampradaya ( Dashanami monastic order) like Giri, Puri, Saraswati etc (details are coming in a different post about Dashnami Sampraday) created by Jagatguru Adi Shankaracharya but also other Sampraday created by some other Guru and so many yogis who are not included to any sampradaya.
Viswanath Temple – Varanasi
Jyotirlinga Viswanath at Varanasi
(Photo Courtesy – Scanned from images available in the stores)
As per the Indian Scriptures, it is stated that Kashi is the favourite place of Lord Shiva. If we consider the Adwaitavad (Nonduality) then how the Shiva is choosy about this place? Then is it a major epicentre of an energy vortex that’s why Siddhas and the Monks are mentioned with the cover of a metaphor? Why are all the great Guru like Trailanga Swamy, Lahiri Mahasaya, Loknath Bramhachari always fond of Kashi or Varanasi? Why Acharya Shankar especially made Kamrup Math in Varanasi even though he already completed Four Mathas in four parts of India? These questions always haunt me. I am in the search to get the answer.
Actually, Varanasi and Kashi are not few Ghats and Viswanath Temple, Annapurna Temple, or Mahakal Temple. There are a lot of things which are codded, sacred and also secret. Which is only known through Guru Prampara and highly secret code for them. Maybe if I get a person like Viswanath Kaviraj from whom I can know the detailing of this secret. But I know the unlocking is very tough until I am able to visit the place with my Guru.
Common man believes this is a holy place and huge pilgrimage and tourist coming to this city every year. Do pujas, do rituals as per their custom.Major foreign tourist coming every year to this holy place to know the city as their own way, to experience the one of the ancient city in the world, To know the rituals and versatility of India.
In this introduction post about Varanasi, I would like to depict my tour description to Varanasi and the major places where to visit.
As you know I am covering Dwadash Jyotirlings (12 Jyotirling) of Lord Shiva so I took my backpack and started to Varanasi.Kolkata is nearer to Varanasi so I have started the journey from Kolkata and during that time I was also visiting different places of Bengal especially the Shaktipeeths. From Howrah station, I got a train which will go to Mughal Sarai but it will not go to Varanasi. So I planned accordingly and started. The train was late and next day around 5.00am I reached Mughal Sarai though I supposed to be at 4 am. Came out of the station complex and took a share TukTuk (Auto-Rickshaw) for Varanasi.It took Rs100 since we are only two passengers. Reached Varanasi Girja Gate ( Church Gate) around 6 am.
Immediately I was started walking towards Dashashwamedh Ghat to see the holy Ganga. On the way lot of shops, small temples of yogis like Khichdi Baba, Mouni Baba etc. Brihaspati Temple, The gate of Viswanath Temple.
The Road from Girja Gate Crossing to Dashashwamedh Ghat
Dashashwamedh Boarding House
Mouni Baba’s Ashram
Dashashwamedh Ghat Entrance
When I reached the Dashashwamedh Ghat just felt a jerk in my body. The full body is started trembling. This the ghat where Trailanga Swami used to bathe and sleep on the stair. This is the ghat where Lahiri Mahasaya used to come every day. Sri Ramakrishna came here when he came to Kashi. I was sat on a stair for a long time. When I was a little bit steady I went to touch the holy Ganga. Took water in my plum (Kritanjali) put on my head and uttered Namami Gange.
Started roaming the entire Ghat by walking. People are bathing, foreign tourists are taking snaps. An old foreign couple with their young local guide is taking snaps. Priests are sitting under typical Varanasi Umbrella made by Coconut Tree Leaves for Pinda Daan. They are also asking me whether I will do the same for my ancestors?
As usual, I have no planning or prior booking to any hotel or hostel, around 8.30 I have started to find a Budget Hotel or Dharmasala or Hostel. Keeping in mind Zostel I asked the young Guide of those foreign tourists is there any budget room? He told me that in Bangalitola (Bengali Tola) his friend has a room with attached toilet and that is cheap. He called his friend but unable to find him. Then I asked him about Zostel. He told me that, you took a rickshaw and asked him to go Luxa Thana Police Station and go to opposite police station road then asked any shop about Zostel. They will show the right place.Accordingly, I went there and reached within 12min.
One guy was in reception with sleepy eye told me that they will give me a shared room after 12 noon, as that is the rule. I requested him if they allow me so that I can fresh up in their common washroom. He told me to wait.for sometime. Around 9 am, he allowed me a bed in an AC room. The charge is very reasonable. I was so happy not to forget to show my gratitude. He gave me a nice map about Varanasi.by Zostel.
Reception Zostel Varanasi
Nice room for a backpacker like me. I thought I will write on Zostel Varanasi in a separate post. (Coming Soon)
Took bath and take some heavy breakfast at upstairs in their nice Pantry. Then I went to bed for a cool sleep. around 12.30 wake up took the Map, my small notebook, camera and android phone.
As I know to visit Varanasi Viswanath temple I need to take permission from Mahakaleshwar at Mahakal Mandir Varanasi. So today I planned on visiting the Holy House of Lahiri Mahasaya.
I took a Rickshaw as Zostel Varanasi Incharge Mr Akash told me Rickshaw is very cheap and convenient in Varanasi. To go to Lahiri Mahasaya’s House I book a rickshaw and asked him to go the address 31/58 Madanura Lane, Garudeswar Mohalla (Muslin Market – Chowsatti Ghat).
The complete address of Sri Lahiri Mahasaya is Sri Banamali Lahiri – 31/58 Madanura Lane, Garudeswar Mohalla (Muslin Market – Chowsatti Ghat), Varanasi, U.P., India.
The Rickshaw drops me in front of a narrow lane (Gali) and told me to go as the road goes. In north Calcutta and BarraBazar, I have seen some Gali (Narrow Lane) but it is like a Bhulbhulaiya. sometimes the road is just 60 CM width. I have to walk around 15 min to reach the place to ask people where is the house of Kashi Baba? One Bengali person guides me the way how to go the exact place.
The Gate of Lahiri Mahasaya’s House. Entering inside is not allowed
Since entering in the hose is not allowed I convey my Pronam to the great yogi and Guru, and walk some few yards and see the Satyalok the House of Grandson of Lahiri Mahasaya.
From here, I took the road of Chowsatti Ghat to reach the bank of river Ganga.