The perfect photography guide for Dev Deepwali-
Varanasi, also known as Banaras or Kashi is the worlds oldest living city dated back to 3000 years. Varanasi is of great religious importance to the Hindus, with the Kashi Viswanath Temple in the city.
Each year the people of Varanasi celebrate Dev Deepawali, which is post few days the actual Diwali celebrated all around India.
Diwali all around India is celebrated on Amavasya (no moon day) which is considered inauspicious in Varanasi and believed those who celebrate Diwali on Amavasya are demons.
Whereas dev Deepawali is celebrated on a Purnima (Full moon) and is believed the gods descend on the ghats of river Ganga to bathe.
Dev Deepwali is beautiful experience, and a photographers paradise with the ghats lit up with 1000 diyas.
Heres the perfect guide to travel and experience the serendipity of this place.
How to reach-
Varanasi is well connected with Flights, trains and buses. Make sure you book your tickets in advance as the prices hike up during dev Deepawali.
If you are travelling from Delhi, you can even take the roadway via Lucknow and Raibareli. Do make a stop at Naresh sweets for some delicious breakfast.
Where to stay?
I stayed at Villa Benaras, Suddhipur road near the airport. Its advisable to stay in an Airbnb since hotels are very expensive during the festivals.
Zotel is also a great option to stay if you are on a budget trip.
What all to do?
1. Ghat hopping
If you want to get the essence of the city just take a long walk exploring the ghats. All the ghats from Assi ghat to Manikarnika ghat are connected and talking a walk is a blissful experience.
I would not suggest exploring any one ghat but all of them.
If you want to experience the boat ride, make sure you don’t take it on the day of dev Deepawali. As infront of the ghats, the boats cluster and its very crowded and messy. The prices for boats on the day of the festival are very expensive and not worth it.
From personal experience there was so much cluster of boats that we left the ride in between. Its better to experience the dev Deepawali Aarti on the ghats.
2. Shopping Banarasi weaves
Varanasi is famous for Banarasi weaves/sarees and silver jewellery. Vist the Satta bazar, where the craftsmen come and sell the Banarasi weaves directly and the cloth is relatively cheap. Be careful of the synthetic weaves sold as banarasi weaves in these unorganised markets. Visit Ushnakmal for real and traditional weaves.
For silver jewellery, check out Kanhaiya lal Brijesh Kumar in Godoliya market.
3. Eating traditional food
Varanasi is the place to eat street food. Banarasi chat, khasta kachori, paan and lassi are a must try. For lassi visit Blue Lassi shop but personally I would suggest to try the local lassi shops to get the essence of the traditional lassi as blue lassi is modified for foreigners. Godoliya market is a must visit for chat and shopping too.
You will find multiple shops for chat and Kachoris while walking through the old lanes of Varanasi.
You can also check the Lucys cafe and brick lane located on the ghat.
4. Temple hopping
Varanasi being the Mecca for Hindus and has many auspicious temples. Cameras wont be allowed in any temple but one must experience the positivity embraced there.
Do visit the Kashi Viswanath temple and Kaal Bhairav Mandir (oldest shiva temple in Varanasi) both dedicated to lord Shiva.
5. Ganga Aarti
The Ganga Aarti was the most surreal and overwhelming experience from my trip to Varanasi. If you want to experience and shoot photographs, make sure you go and take stand before the crowd rushes in. The Aarti happens on the Dashashwamedh Ghat starting around 6 pm or 7pm depending on the sunset. Special Aartis are held on Tuesdays and on religious festivals like Dev Deepawali.
A Tip for photographers, Ask people and specials the babas before taking photographs as they might be offended or not like you photographing them.
Happy traveling !