Kashi, the City of Light (Varanasi, India 2015)
Varanasi, also known as Kashi and Benaras, is the cultural capital of India. Varanasi is a melting pot, where both death and life come together. Dating to the 11th century B.C. (that’s over 3000 years!), this is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities. It draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites. Along the city's winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Lonely Planet describes the city as “one of the most blindingly colorful, unrelentingly chaotic and unapologetically indiscreet places on earth”. Not everyone is prepared to visit this incredible city, where the circle of life overpowers all of your senses. My local guide’s words sum it up perfectly: you don’t visit Varanasi, you live Varanasi. It was truly a life-changing experience for me.