Life on the Ghats on the Ganges at Varanasi

Varanasi, also known as Benares, Banaras, Kashi, "The City of Light" is one of the oldest living cities in the world. It is one of the most sacred places both for Hindus and Buddhists. Ashok Khanna says "I believe that Banaras is a heaven for photographers and that even if thousands of them photograph the city for thousands of years, they will always find new dimensions in it". Thousands of people each year visit the Ghats - steps on the banks of the Ganges - to bathe in the sacred waters.

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The Ganges river, Varanasi - sunrise at the Bathing Ghat Sunrise over the Ganges, Varanasi.    People performing their morning exercises on the roof of a building are visible through a doorway in the wall The Ganges river, Varanasi - Chet Singh Ghat in the early morning sun The Ganges river, Varanasi - tourists float serenely down the river just after dawn The Ganges river, Varanasi - bathing in the sacred waters in the early morning Palace on the Ganges river, Varanasi The Ganges river, Varanasi - soon after sunrise and the Bathing Ghats are altready teeming There are thousands of large and small shrines and lingas in Varanasi - at, above and below the present water level.   Everyday life goes on as they watch The Ganges river, Varanasi - preparing to bathe in the sacred waters The Ganges river, Varanasi - a "sadhu" - most likely a business proposition rather than a holy mission, gets a foot massage.   Even sadhus get sore feet? Sadhu on the Ghat by the Ganges at Varanasi, will bestow a blessing for 50 rupees Dressed up as Kali to collect a rupee or two, by the Ganges, Varanasi Dressed up as Shiva on the way to the ghats to collect money Boats on the Ganges at dawn, Varanasi Boats and teeming humanity on the ghats at Varanasi, in the hazy early morning sun Drying saris on the Ghats after washing in the Ganges, Varanasi The level of the Ganges fluctuates by more than 10 metres between the monsoon and dry seasons.  As the highest waters recede they leave deposits of silt that have to be hosed away by contractors in a never ending cycle A thoughtful goat rests on the steps of the Ghat There are many barbers on the Ghats offering shaving and haircuts Approaching the Manikarnika cremation ghat, we can see the eagles soaring above The empty hall at the 'Jantar Mantar' looks out over the Ganges Men share a joke while washing clothes Shaving the heads of children and adults is a symbol of purification before bathing in the Ganges.   Here the children are shaving the elders Shaving the heads of children and adults is a symbol of purification before bathing in the Ganges.   Here the children are shaving the elders Shaving the child's hair Clothes laid out to dry at the the Dhobi (laundry) Ghat Ironing the clothes the old fashioned way near the Dhobi (laundry) Ghat Boys playing cricket at Man Mandir Ghat A sadhu sits above the river soon after sunrise A hive of activity on the ghats soon after sunrise Bathing in the Ganges soon after sunrise, Varanasi The leaning temple of Shiva at Scindia Ghat, Varanasi Old man climbing the steep sandstone steps of the ghats Crowds at Dashaswamedh Ghat below the image of Shiva Boatmen rowing along the Ganges near Dashaswadedh Ghat, Varanasi Meditating prior to bathing in the Ganges Priest offering blessings at Dashashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi Beggars hoping for alms line the steps up from Dashashwamedh Ghat Three white geese survey the Ganges from Mir Ghat, Varanasi Old man washing, Mir Ghat, Varanasi Children playing on the fence, Mir Ghat, Varanasi Dashashwamedh Ghat and beyond seen from the top of the Jantar Mantar at Man Mandir Ghat, Varanasi Boatmen resting by the side of the Ganges as the sun gets higher