The lights go off and people begin chanting and throwing flowers, it’s an eerie-yet-beautiful experience…
Explore ideas of death and rebirth on this unique night tour of Varanasi. The city is one of the most spiritual places in India and referred to as Mahashamstana, the great cremation ground of Shiva. We start at 8pm by visiting a fertility temple with a pond where people go to pray for a baby. Then we move to the Aghor Ashram which belongs to the black-robed Sadhu philosophical sect who are an important part of Varanasi’s history, surrounded by flesh-eating myths.
As we wander the alleyways of Varanasi we’ll discuss different concepts related to life and death in Hindu philosophy and stop at a Kali temple made by a queen from Bangladesh. There are interesting stories surrounding the queen, who constructed many important buildings in Varanasi, including one of the city’s most famous temples; you’ll also hear an eerie tale about her daughter, who died in their house. Next, we enjoy a break for some chai before heading onto the highlight of the tour, the cremation grounds.
We arrive at the Sankata Devi Temple around 10.30 for the aarti, a ceremony where saffron-robed pandits complete a ritual with golden oil lamps in front of the Ganges. This temple has a giant tree at its centre and is devoted to the mother goddess of sorrow, who was also a demon slayer. When the aarti starts, the lights go off and people begin chanting and throwing flowers – it’s an eerie-yet-beautiful, interactive experience that you’ll never forget.