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Varanasi

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From the windows of the Amritsar Express train, I had my first glimpse of Varanasi. It was a cold February morning- tail end of winter. It appealed cold and distant. I intended to stay for 3 days.

The city is utterly chaotic and unapologetically indiscreet. From the narrow maze-like alleys dotted with cows, garbage and motorcycles to the enigmatic holy river of Ganges- where pilgrims pray and bathe, and dead people get burned to ashes- all at the same time. Varanasi is a shock to the senses. But, the type that is, at times, can be peculiarly calm.

Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world. Mark Twain said it is older than History. It is known for religion, silk, a playground for artists- musicians, painters and a refuge for bohemian travelers.

I cannot pinpoint what particular thing about Varanasi that charmed me. It could be those glorious sunrises by the river over chai with friends. Or those boat trips where our friend Tai would play his violin like the wind. After my 15th sunset, I bade goodbye to the city with a heavy heart but with a promise to return sooner than later.

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This is how my photography career started.

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