In this fourty-seventh archive story by Kristian Bertel, we visit the busy and congested area of Godowlia Chowk in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh in India. Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Varanasi is well-connected by air, rail and road. One of the major factors in Varanasi's is its access to all parts of the country. Within the city mobility is provided by taxis, rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and three wheelers but with certain restrictions in the old town area of the city. But visiting Varanasi is indeed also a historic and cultural visit. Whoever dies and burns in Varanasi, leaves the cycle of rebirths and enters Nirvana.
Varanasi is well-connected by air, rail and road. One of the major factors in Varanasi's is its access to all parts of the country. Within the city mobility is provided by taxis, rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and three wheelers but with certain restrictions in the old town area of the city. But visiting Varanasi is indeed also a historic and cultural visit. Whoever dies and burns in Varanasi, leaves the cycle of rebirths and enters Nirvana.

Godowlia Chowk in India

Thus, at least, the Hindus are myths. The metropolis in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is considered the city of the god Shiva and is one of the holiest places of Hinduism. The river Ganges is also regarded as sacred, on the west bank of Varanasi. His water shall purify all sins. For several kilometers, step-like embankments are formed, from where believers can rise to ritual baths into the floods. There are also numerous places where the dead are burned. Their ashes are scattered in the Ganges.

Pilgrimage destination for thousands of years
For more than two and a half thousand years, faithful pilgrimages to the city, which is often called Benares. It is also important for the followers of other religions. Only ten kilometers to the north is the village of Sarnath, where the Buddha is said to have delivered his first sermon. In total, more than 200 Hindu, Jainist and Buddhist temples characterize the cityscape of Varanasi. Varanasi is India's most sacred city for Hindus everyday life in the streets is determined by death, for every believer who holds something is coming here to wait for him. As wage, the immortality. The author and world traveler Mark Twain once said that Varanasi is 'older than the story, older than the tradition, older than the legend itself'. But even if it is not really the oldest city in the world, one thing is certain, Varanasi has always been the holiest city in India for the Hindus. In the course of her more than 2,500 years of existence, she has already had a few names, including Kashi or Benares, and she is looking back on a story that is in the truest sense of the word. Ever since its inception, Hindus have been pilgriming from everywhere, for Varanasi is said to be the city of Shivas, one of the Hindu chief deities. But nowadays it is due to another fact that Varanasi is India's death city. The reason is that almost every Hindu believer tries to come here to wait for death. For faith says that one can free oneself from the eternal cycle of rebirths. The sacred ritual is always the same, a corpse is burned, and its ashes are then scattered in the Ganges, the largest river of India, which, like the city itself, is regarded as sacred to Hindus. The waters of the Ganges are also called Amrita, translating 'nectar of immortality'. Through this procedure, according to faith, one could attain eternal life and enter the Moksha comparable to the Buddhist Nirvana.

Godowlia Chowk in India
The busy area of this chowk is just situated on the direction to the Ganges. A river that the faithful Hindus are not afraid to bathe in Mata Ganga, because ritual ablutions are an integral part of the ritual of almost every visitor to Varanasi. Most believers do this at the Dasaswamedh Ghat, but on a complete pilgrimage tour through Varanasi, a total of five stops are made and bathed. A bath in the Ganges cleanses from sin, according to the Hindu faith. Originally, this privilege was reserved for the Maharajah, but today it is a mass phenomenon. The procedure is to dive the body several times under water to clean in this way. Many people, however, come to the heavily polluted Ganges for quite worldly reasons, to wash their clothes. The highlight of each day is a nightly ritual, dedicated to the gods, where there is plenty of fire, music and songs to be admired. If you can afford it, rent a boat and experience the ceremony from the water. Probably it was this proper portion of ethno-romanticism, which attracted the first hippy tourists to Varanasi in the 1970s, and thanks to which today a lot of traders make lucrative deals with visitors.

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of the busy area of Godowlia Chowk in Varanasi. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.