Behind Manikarnika Ghat: Musical Performance
On the way to and from our hotel we regularly passed a tiny shop hidden in the alleys threading behind Manikarnika Ghat. We saw that it had a sign outside promising a concert in the evenings, so on our second evening in Varanasi we went along. It proved to be one of the best things we did. We were alone as the audience for a short time, while the proprietor waited for his musicians to turn up, but two other couples showed up a little later, followed by a group of Japanese tourists. We were entertained first by a young woman playing sitar, who was competent but perhaps not amazing, and she was followed by a man playing harmonium. He was GOOD, and he and the tabla player had clearly been working together for years as they displayed an almost telepathic understanding of what they were about to do. The tabla player chewed paan the whole time, his mouth filling and preventing him from speaking (since he couldn't spit where he was), so I suppose the telepathy was necessary! They encouraged each other in faster and faster rhythms, almost duelling, until it all came to a crescendo and they collapsed, exhausted.
A truly wonderful evening - and incredible value: they only asked for contributions. I bought a CD, and gave a little extra for the performance, which in total came to 170r (all I had on me or I would have given more).
I apologise for the picture quality, it's a still from a video I took on my phone!
Dress Code: No dress code, but bear in mind you'll have to sit cross-legged on the floor.
- Budget Travel
Banks of the river Ganges: The silent Ganges by night
For those who enjoy a serene silence interrupted by the sounds of the water of the river, its a great experience to sit by the side of river Ganga on any of his greater ghats and enjoy the darkness overpowering the world.
City Sleeps early: Not much of a nightlife
In Varanasi, I noticed that the morning starts earlier than other cities.... I saw a number of people rise early and head to the Ganges before sunrise to take a dip/bath whatever you call it. As I was in Varanasi, the sunrise was around 6:15 Am and I notices that the river banks were live with people well before 05:30 A.M, locals as well as tourists.
As people need to rise early it seems that they go to bed early too. I took a stroll after 10:30 P.M and I did not see too many establishments/shops open. Even the food in some of the restaurants was very limited.
This being said I don't think there is any nightlife at all (compared to where I am from New York).
Dress Code: Not applicable
Assi Ghat at night: Assi Ghat at night
Assi Ghat at night is something you can do while you are here. Assi Ghat is the ghat with probably most foreign tourists hanging around for fun. I didn't stay at this ghat but I walk here at night to see some activities. I saw a tourist dancing himself here while local peoples curious looking at him. I saw many beautiful shops selling beautiful goods and many mobile food stalls selling like crazy plus many many more, don't miss Assi Ghat at night.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
A Beer that will Punch You in the Head: Kingfisher Beer
I thought I'd throw in a few ratings of Kingfisher beer:
Jason ( East Boston, Massachusetts )
Pale yellowish golden clear brew with a decent white lace.Light metallic aroma, with a clean hop and grain in the back. Light to moderate body with a lower than normal carbonation for a lager. Oily hop flavour hits first then some grainy malt, grassy in a way. A mediocre brew, I would not turn it down if someone offered it to me.
Todd ( Cambridge, Massachusetts )
"Most thrilling chilled!", the label shouts. Appearance: Light golden with tiny bubbles, yielding a thin fizzy head. Smell: Semi-sweet with a distinct yeast aroma. Taste: The malt gives this a slight grainy taste which is followed by a refreshingly high lemon flavour and sour bitterness. Wonderful use of hops in this brew.
Notes: There was a card on the table that went into some interesting detail of this brew. I wrote it down, and it goes as follows: "A time when a strong, smooth beer was needed to quench the thirst and beat the heat in Hindustan, India [snip] ... high gravity lager is kept in copper urns for over 2 months. Copper stimulates the yeast and imparts its flavour in the beer."
Aaron [ME] ( New Zealand )
Appearance: Light golden often flat, but cold.
Flavour: Light lemony flavour, then linda nutty, followed by a metallic aftertaste that had to be preservative. In a nutshell: A TERRIBLE beer. F*^ng awful. But often it is all there is in India. A beer is like pizza, there is no such thing as bad pizza. Nah. This beer is bad.
PS: Gives the worst hangover worse than 4 bottles of Champagne..
Dress Code: Wear cotton. because you are in India, which is stinking hot.
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
- Beer Tasting
Marnikarnika Ghat and Dasaswamedh Ghat are NOISY: Getting Sleep in Varanasi is Difficult.
The Dormitory of Shanti Guest house is open to the air. Punters and sheltered from the rain by a corrugated Iron Roof and from the Ferocious Monkeys by prison like bars as walls. So the senses are bombarded quite incredibly. Sleep is hard to get.
Marnikarnika Ghat is the burning Ghat. the most auspicious place to be cremated in all of India. So 24 hours a day people are bringing bodies to be cremeted. Services, chants, and songs are sang all through the night, Right below Shanti Guesthouse.
Meanwhile down the way in Dasaswamedh Ghat Pujas are sung through the night, wedding feasts happen daily (These are a very noisy affair).
Lucky Shanti Guesthouse sells beer. Have a few of those and sleep comes easier.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Sitting on the stair case of Ganga
Ganga looks really beautiful in the night with earthern lamps litted and flown into the river. It gives a beauitful picture as if all the stars are glittering in the river water.
Dress Code: I have mentioned it several times and once more please its a good idea to wear the outfit of the places you visit, I know its difficult wearing sari for females but try wearing anything that covers your whole body, india is a conservative country .Transparent and nude clothes can invoke threat to women.
There's a lot to do here....
There's a lot to do here. Don't expect discos or anything like that, but concerts, going to the cinema (where the public danes and sings while watching the emotional films), rituals and late night dinners.
The candle ritual is a very special ritual that is held after eight pm. A holy man lights candles and offers fire and special things that the rivergod likes. He puts all after singing, dancing and praying in a bowl on the river. The people around him light small candles on the stairs to the river and sing and pray with him.
Dress Code: Do wear long sleaves and just watch. Never interfear the ritual!
Go and see a concert. You can...
Go and see a concert. You can find the locations by taking concertflyers that are free in some local shops and hotels. Concerts cost only a dollar or so. You will get two cups of tea and three hours of life music for it.
The people are very nice and they love it when you are interested in their instruments and music. When you play an instrument too, they'd love to hear about that. The hospitality is also great.
Ganga Fuji: every evening classical indian music
This place has a classical Indian music gig on every night at 7.30.
You can get breakfast there and Indian, chinese and japanese meals.
Go on a boat on the river...
Go on a boat on the river Ganga at night with a guide and do a candleritual on the water. Hundreds of candles floating on the water is a wonderful sight!