It is not an understatement to say that Benaras aka Kashi is one city that gives you an experience that is quintessentially India. Bustling, chaotic and super hurried, Varanasi, as the city is also called, is one quite like none other. Home to the renowned Kashi Vishwanath temple, the soul of the city is the holy Ganga that flows through it. Life is centred around the river and its 80-odd ghats where scores of piligrims descend each day to conduct rituals, pay obeisance and witness the famous Ganga Aarthi.
Old World Vibes
But beyond the temple and the Ganges, Varanasi which is one of India’s oldest cities, has some fascinating sights on its streets. Like all cities, Kashi (or the city of lights) is also in a constant state of flux; where the old is slowly giving way to the new and one where heritage structures replete with shuttered windows and ornate doors are being replaced by new age high rises crafted in metal and glass. However, if you are a lover of the old world charm, take a stroll along the city’s narrow gallis and you are sure to spot vintage gems like carved doorways dotted with intricate patterns, shuttered windows and ornate brackets supporting antique buildings. Here are some captures of the city’s multi-faceted streetscapes.
The city is also home to several buildings that date back decades. While most of them jostle space with modern establishments, they retain their distinctive charm and unique character.
One building that stands out is the Dalmia House that is a heritage building believed to have been built between 1835 and 1845. Earlier known as Goswami Bari, the building traces its origins to the Goswamis of Serampore. The latter were famous landlords, merchants and bankers in Bengal who were also accorded the title of Raja by the British Government. The building has a distinctive Dutch architectural touch with some Neo classical and Indo-Gothic elements.
Dalmia house also has the distinction of hosting illustrious guests like Dr. Annie Besant, Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. The royal emblem adorning the gate, the patterns of the railings, antique furniture and arches reminiscent of the bygone era are just some of the distinctive features of this historical building. The building was acquired by the Dalmia family in the 1960s. The building today is one of the most sought after wedding venues in the city and is slated to be converted to a luxury heritage hotel shortly.
Vibrant Street Art
The streets of Varanasi are filled with colourful art that reflects the social and cultural ethos of the city. Beautifully done, the art work is relevant and many a time carries the right message. Most of the art has been handcrafted by the fine arts students of the Benaras Hindu University (BHU). Go on an art trail in this spiritual city and you are sure to love it. Here are some captures.