What is the best thing to do in Varanasi? Nothing.

Can doing nothing be an enjoyable activity? Let’s talk about it.

You are planning your Indian holidays and have already mapped out your path. You take a glance at the cities you are going to visit and your eyes stop at Varanasi. How many days should you spend in Varanasi? What you can do in Varanasi? What is the best thing to do in Varanasi?

You can ponder about the first two questions, but the answer to the last question is surprisingly.. nothing. Doing nothing is actually the best thing to do in Varanasi.

Oh?

Varanasi is one of those places about which tourists have strong opinions; sometimes positive and sometimes negative. People who carry negative impressions often feel there is not much to do in Varanasi. The main tourist attraction is the six kilometre stretch of ghats along the river Ganga and the web of narrow streets which run parallel to the ghats. And, there is Sarnath which impresses some and disappoints some. You must be feeling you need more, right?

What is so special about Varanasi?

There are plenty of places to see in Varanasi, but Varanasi is not all about seeing. It is about feeling. Varanasi is a place to experience life and culture. Varanasi is a place to relax and reflect.

It may not look like at the first glance but this city is a place to relax. Sit down on the stairs of any ghat that that looks clean enough for your bottom. Then just stare at the flow of the river Ganga, boats, birds, people in the boats. Now you’re experiencing the most exciting tourist activity in Varanasi – doing nothing.

Being lazy while you are in Varanasi is the best way to enjoy the Varanasi city.

Do nothing or do something creative

The Art of doing nothing

Doing nothing is an art. Not everyone is born good at but it is a fairly easy art to learn. And the most convenient part is, the city itself inspires you do peruse this art. Many come to the city with plans and whatnot, but upon arriving, they find themselves sitting on the stairs at the ghats willing to do nothing else.

It may surprise many but this city is a place where some tourists spend many weeks and even many months; and also a place where come again and again. All that to do nothing.

An occasion involving learning from the birds

Every year when winter dawns in the cold Siberia, the Siberian birds begin their mammoth journey to the south seeking a warmer weather. Flocks of them arrive at Varanasi and make temporary home round about the ghats.

On a sunny winter afternoon I sat on the Munshi ghat with a friend in a full on lazy mode. We had no plan to do anything until six hours later. My touring friend felt uneasy about having no plans whatsoever. Disagreement with her roommate back at home was another reason behind the unease.

Trying to savour the relaxing moments, however, she looked at the floating birds. They perched in the gentle flow of Ganga. When they travelled a hundred meters or so, they took flight back and landed on the water and began floating again. This they continued to do for hours.

“That’s interesting. They are doing just nothing..” my friend stated.

We sat there for six hours observing the birds and exchanging words occasionally. By the end of this adventure she was no longer uneasy. Additionally, she had also made decision to look for a new apartment when she returned home.

 


Relax and observe

 Is it not better to be lazy at a beach instead?

The sport of laziness in Varanasi is different from laziness at a beach. At a tropical Paradise you escape from your daily life to enjoy a well-deserved carefree retreat. You are surrounded by holidaymakers and a fun environment.

In Varanasi, it is different. When you are lazy-ing in Varanasi, you think and observe the life around you. You sit on the ghats like a crocodile and stare at the calm flow of Ganga reflecting about your life and the lives of everyone in your life. Look around yourself. There are local people going about their usual daily life without acknowledging your presence. There are pilgrims half submerged in religious thoughts. There are even stray animals roaming around as if they own the place. What you have is plenty of cues around to inspire a thought about your own life.

When you have successfully indulged yourself in the absolute state of ‘doing nothing’, you reach the state of deep self-concentration to explore your inner self. These are the tranquil moments when rare ideas hit you. You may even find yourself to have rediscovered yourself.

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