The holy city of Varanasi.

A photo travelogue by Aman Chotani.


1. Holier than the holiest.

Vedic style temples stand erect in the background as the murky waters of the Ganges meander past the feet of India’s holiest city, in an act reminiscent of a pious devotee offering respect. With a history that pre dates Christianity and Islam by centuries, Varanasi has a past deeply rooted in the ancient Indo Aryan culture which came to dominate much of the country and gave birth to the world’s oldest religion: Hinduism.

Aman Chotani – we usually live life for attaining happiness and freedom. Which are virtues attained mostly after life. But being in Varanasi let me gain these variables while I was living. Words and phrases are inadequate to describe the serenity of the city so beautifully complimented with the fragrance of scented incense, the ringing of the bells and prayers.

2. On the edge of the world.

Beams of light cast an illusion of brightly lit plunging waterfalls and makes the city of Varanasi appear sitting right on the edge of a dark void. A moored boat, left to rock gently in the waves, silently admires the spectacle. For many travelers and residents, a view of the city from the river is an irresistible bait, especially after dark. Removed from the hustle bustle, the tranquility out here can literally seep into the soul. In fact, it is hard to be at Varanasi and not be touched in the slightest way by its history and powerful spiritual aura, on land or water.

Aman Chotani – as a photographer I visit many beautiful places, see many interesting sights but the scope this place has in terms of photography, I am yet to find something similar.

3. Crossing the tides of time.

In what could be best described as a timeless scene, an ascetic journeys across the Ganges much in the same manner as boat men ferried travelers during the days of the Mauryan Empire. Invading armies and the modern age took turns to change the structure of the city, but its ancient soul still endures.

Aman Chotani – a mere glimpse of the culture and rituals broadened my knowledge and made me see the city in a different light. For exploring the beauty and the serenity of Varanasi even a lifetime is less.

4. Ending the day with a divine display.

Hands with elaborately designed lamps and censers move clockwise in rhythm to Vedic hymns and the ringing of bells to mark the day’s end at Varanasi. Performed by Hindu priests called pundits at sunset each day, the Ganga aarti venerates the omnipresent for blessing life on earth with his light and benevolence. History has no record as to who first initiated the ritual but each successive generation of pundits has added subtleties in style to evolve it to its present day highly choreographed form. The communal ceremony is a daily crowd puller. Shopkeepers and residents nearby will even rent out their balconies so tourists can get a better view.

Aman Chotani – Its a sight which is remarkably divine and ethereal.

5. Daily chores.

Washing dirty laundry takes priority over religion and veneration as dhobis or community washer men wrestle with heaps of clothes on Ghats, many of which feature the Ganga Aarti every evening.

About the photographer

Farbound.Net-Travel-Photographer-Aman-ChotaniAbout the photographer: Aman Chotani is a full time professional photographer in Noida, India and founder of the Gorillas Travel Photography Club.