Ask a Local – Feature #4 Varanasi, India

 

MAD Ask a Local Series - Varanasi, India

MAD Ask a Local Series - Varanasi, India

 

Angur Ghimire is a Nepalese working in the hospitality industry in Varanasi, India. It’s been his adopted home for a number of years.

When I asked to feature him, his first comment was “Off course I’m interested but my English is not good, I am trying to improve everyday”

He treated these questions as a test giving his best answers, the same way he treats his guests at Hotel Ganges View, a cozy luxury boutique hotel on Assi Ghat in Varanasi.

 

 

Describe Varanasi in 5 sentences.

Varanasi has a lot of historical importance. Being one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, it was originally called Kashi and is also known as Banaras. According to legend it was created by the Hindu God Shiva, hence why he is widely celebrated here. It is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism so much so it is called the “spiritual capital of India” or the “holy city of India.” Varanasi, which is on the River Ganges itself, is a melting pot where both death and life come together, where Hindus believe they will attain salvation.

What’s the best thing about living there?

There are a lot that you can learn and understand in Varanasi – the culture, history, religion, arts, music, and literature – the city is thousands of years old and filled with so much history. It is known as the favourite city of Lord Shiva and is mentioned in the holy books, that tells how much history this city is filled with.

What your favourite time of year in Varanasi for you? Why?

The best time to be in Varanasi is in Winter. We have some national festivals at the end of the year such as Dasara and Diwali and earlier in the year there is Holi to celebrate the beginning of Spring. You will very much enjoy these festivals.

 Is there one place visitors shouldn’t miss seeing?

There are many things that visitors must see, especially temples, but the morning boat ride at sunrise is so peaceful and the evening Ganga Aarti on one of the ghats is very special, should not be missed.

What’s your favourite local dish?

Puri Kachoudi in the morning and Samosa in the afternoon, best snacks.

Do you have favourite local place to eat/drink you would share with visitors?

For vegetarian/non veg options, Palace on Ganges is one of my favourites, it also has a roof top for an amazing view over the river. For vegetarian only restaurant, Ming Garden is a nice option. For South Indian menu, Kerala Café is very good.

How about a favourite local coffee/tea shop?

For soft drink, tea and coffee Kashi Tea, which is in Assi, is my favourite recommendation to all our guests.

What three local words should every visitor know?

  • Namaste – press palms together and bow when saying Namaste. It means hello and goodbye too.
  • Aarti – it is a Hindu religious ritual during worship, very important as it happens every night on the Ganges River here in Varanasi.
  • Shukriyah – which means thank you in Hindi.

Why should someone visit your city?

You know Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world and there are so many ghats which are just like Heaven to us. Visitors should come to Varanasi without any tension or stress. Even if you do, the city can help make you relaxed. That is the beauty of this spiritual city, you just need to come.

What advice would you give someone visiting your city?

Varanasi is a whole different world to the rest of India, come prepared for an experience that would make you leave here as a completely different person. Many fall in love with the city and do not even want to leave so stay open minded.