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A visit to Varanasi is unlike any other place on earth. Varanasi’s unique culture is deeply associated with the River Ganges, where life and death intermingle. The living flock to the ghats by the river to pray, with the belief that bathing in the sacred waters will bring remission of their sins. The dead are cremated on the river, and their ashes are scattered in the water to break the cycle of reincarnation and let the soul rise to enlightenment.

The river holds a central place in the Hindu world, as an important pilgrimage site, and in the Buddhist world as the location of Buddha’s first sermon. Varanasi was also visited by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities.

Visiting Varanasi can be dizzying. Walking through the city your senses are overwhelmed by intensity of sights, smells and sounds that surround you. You may have to scuttle out of the way as a funeral procession passes by to the sound of chanting and clanging bells, or make way for a sacred bull as it trots through the narrow street.