ll   VARANASI  ... the people ll

 ll  The City  ll  The Geography  ll  The Climate  ll  The People  ll  The Culture  ll  The Lifestyle  ll  The Festivals  ll  The Handicrafts  ll  The Art and Architecture  ll  The Music and Dance  ll  The Famous Folks  ll  The Economy  ll  The Shopping  ll  How to get there  ll  The Ganga  ll  Places Of Interest   ll 


There are people, people everywhere - sitting, standing, walking or praying on the steps of the ghats that are the one feature most truly representative of Varanasi; people engaged in soul-uplifting baths in the waters of the River Ganga to wash away all their sins; people singing devotional songs, preaching, reading the scriptures or filling pots with Ganga-jalam to take back to family and friends not fortunate enough to have made the trip; people shaving their heads before the holy dip, or, in the case of small Hindu boys, for the initiation ceremony which confirms them in their status in Hindu society; people being dazzled by the fascinating array of silks and brocades displayed by Varanasi's shop-keepers and weavers; people haggling with itinerant vendors over the price of an attractive trinket, or worshipping in temples, more than 2,000 of which crowd Varanasi's disorderly streets and narrow galis (bylanes); and people coming here to die, for, it is said to give them direct access to heaven.

Thus, a population of nearly 925,962, besides a pilgrim population of 125,000 to 250,000 that pours into the city every day, keeps what is probably the World's oldest living city exuberantly alive. But the surging millions who every year use - and misuse - the Ganga in every way possible, have also done their bit to pollute the river and frighten environmentalists and health authorities.