It's close to falling to pieces; it's so overcrowded that it defies belief; for the city's people, cleanliness is definitely not next to Godliness, and yet I love the place. I was on a trip to Benares in mid-March for a family function and I found that despite the place living up to all its negative stereotypes, it's hard not to appreciate the place. To know that this was already a city in the time of Gautam Buddha and has sustained itself ever since is in itself awe-inspiring. It's evident from the time you step into the city that this is a different kind of place. The narrow, cramped lanes, the innumerable number of ancient ghats, and the expanse of the Ganga which quickly takes up the hues of the sun- all make for a grand spectacle. The evenings are especially beautiful with the tolling of temple bells all along the riverside, and the lines of lighted 'diyas' carrying a wish or the memory of a loved one into the heart of the holy river. Early morning reveals the best of Benares, when the crowds are still stirring out of their sleep, and you have the history and legends of this extraordinary place all to yourself.
Some more pics from my Benares sojourn