STAY IN A 200-YEAR-OLD PALACE HOTEL
On the Steps of India’s Holy River
Brijrama Palace is no ordinary hotel. It dates back to 1812 and is a genuine palace. This enchanting and captivating building was once the home of the Brahmin King of Darbhanga (Bihar). Today it is a luxury heritage hotel and one of the most “luxe” addresses on the Ganges.
Located within the sacred radius of Varanasi (on Darbhanga Ghat), you can literally walk out through the hotel entrance, down the steps and dip your toes in holy water. The hotel is the perfect base for your stay in Varanasi as it gives immediate access to the ghats (river steps). Facing the rising sun, this 8 kms stretch of crescent-shaped riverfront remains to this day, a restless metaphysical borderland from dawn to dusk.
Varanasi, also known as "Kashi" or "Benares", is the holiest of all seven-sacred-cities in Hinduism because of the Ganges River. Therefore, the river draws a lot of pilgrims. Every sunrise you see the masses of pilgrims drifting into the sun-path in old wooden boats.
Varanasi is a unique destination and Brijrama is a unique hotel. Your Brijrama Palace experience begins at Bhisasur Ghat where they greet you as a royal guest before boarding the Bajra (a traditional Indian wooden boat) which takes you downriver past ashrams, temples and devotees until your reach the steps of Darbhanga Ghat. What a fabulous introduction to Varanasi “City of the Rising Sun!”
There are 84 ghats (river steps) and over 300 temples. This is the holy radius of Varanasi, where modern thought evaporates into thin air. Here, white-bearded ascetics do mantras to the rising sun every morning and at sunset, colours of the highest vibrations merge with the boom of bells. This is where the living come to pray and where the blessed dead pass from this world to the next. Many holy men congregate here; Sanyasis, Vaishnava, Aghoris, Naths, vanished yogis, reckless saints, Hindu priests and Buddhist monks. They usually wear saffron or white robes or nothing at all.
NAKED JEWELLED FEET & COLOURS OF THE HIGHEST VIBRATION
Each morning at sunrise Hindu worshippers light up little candles and incense sticks as offering (Puja) to Goddess Ganga. On the steps are also silver trays with fruit and flower offerings as well as other metal vessels used in the ceremony. The ritual happens every single day and is magical to watch.
A puja is supposed to bring five things together:
1) a pot containing water, representing the body;
2) murtis (an image of deity);
3) prasad (a flower or fruit offering, representing nature);
4) yantras (a mandala, or sacred pattern representing the universe);
5) a mantra , or chant.
The first four are optional. The last one is necessary. The mantra is viewed as essential to complete the ritual.