Varanasi was without doubt the most powerful place I visited in India. This city on the banks of the Ganges is the spiritual capital and the holiest of seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism. This might go some way towards explaining the intensity of this unique place.
Varanasi was a completely overwhelming experience for me. I felt fully immersed in the various religious ceremonies happening all around me and it was extremely moving to see. I took a boat ride along the river bank at sunset, and sunrise the next day. I took part in a candle offering, where I lit a candle and sent it floating down the river. Once it was dark all the boats pulled together to watch a religious ceremony on the bank.
And of course, an undeniable part of why Varanasi is such an intense place is observing the cremations that take place by the river. You come face-to-face with death in this city and see things you can’t quite prepare yourself for. It’s hard to put into words, but I felt deeply moved by everything I saw in this extraordinary place.