After we completed our midnight rendezvous with Varanasi Ghats, somewhere, it was not fulfilling. Before venturing out for the midnight acclimatization with the ghats, we had already requested for a morning boat ride in our hostel and the wake up time was 5:30 AM.
Read – My experience of Varanasi ghats in night
The heat of Varanasi in the month of May and the tiredness of travelling the previous day was no way deterrent to a morning boat ride at the Varanasi Ghats. I mean so many stories, myths and historical anecdotes will pull even any mortal like a magnet and then I am no exception.
The experience was too overwhelming and I will try to document it. However, there is a chance that it may go hay ward since it is very difficult to have controlled thoughts when in Varanasi for the first time. As I first stepped out towards the the Ghats, I was overwhelmed by the size and the chaos. As we followed the boatman, I found it little tough to concentrate on any particular event or character. Splash of colours and myriad of activities characterize the Ghats. There are numerous ghats and we had already known the names last night, so this was the time to capture the ghats and the architectural marvel. The boat ride happens between both the burning ghats – Manikarnika and Harishchandra.
The city almost wakes up in the Ghats. With the devotees lined up with folded hands half merged in Ganga, priests chanting the mantras, the tea shop selling the tea, the dhobis doing their regular cleanings, its a mini world which starts and ends with last rites getting performed at the same time.
The boats form an important part of Varanasi Ghats . Various sizes and colours providing livelihood to so many people and entertainment /experience of a lifetime to travellers. The ride was for an hour which we requested the boatman to extend for half an hour more, although sun was blazing down and we sensed it was not for long that we would be able to sustain. In those one and half hours, we saw once again (as in the previous night) life and death happening at the same time and almost side by side. They say the grass always looks greener on the other side. I was no exception. While travelling I realized that while the vastness of the ghats and the overall picture of the ghats is something which cannot be missed but the different activities getting carried on at the ghats is equally, if not more interesting.
Read – The unique world of Varanasi wall graffiti
Don’t miss out on the background music here. Like the smell, sight and food, I always believe that background music also occupies a major share of the memory. The rhythmic bells of numerous mandirs, the loudspeaker announcements, the chants of the shlokas and the sound of general chaotic chit chat is a symphony in itself.
We intended to do that the same day however it was too late and we had to rush back to our hostel. In the next one, I share my experiences as I take a walk along the ghats.
Tips for photographers
- Lesser the gear, the merrier. Don’t carry many lenses rather carry couple of lenses as the travel will happen in a boat.
- The timing is the key here as after the sun rise it takes no time for the entire area to be lit up and hence the golden hour of photography is gone and which photographer doesn’t want to shoot in the golden hours
- Wide lens and 18 -55 will be good for the tour unless you want to capture the candid shots of people on the ghats.
- The boatmen will wait at a particular place in case you want to take some particular picture
- Depending on the season you are travelling, it will be either too hot or too cold, so dress accordingly. However focus on the footwear. Footwear should be slippers or rubber floaters which can be easily washed. The walk up to the ghats and the the ghat is not that clean
- The boatmen may take a chance of charging more seeing the camera gear, suggest get in touch with the hotel where you are put up and most of the times they arrange for the ghat visits in the morning. So tie up with them.
- As the intensity and angle of sun rays change quickly in the morning, plan the shots quickly, otherwise the magic of the light intensity and the angle at which the light is falling will change soon.
Coming up – A walk in the Varanasi Ghats.
P.S. Yes you read it right. This has been in the draft for last 1 year almost and finally sees the daylight.