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Tighten your seat belts because (drumrolls) the countdown is about to get over and the magnificent ghats of Varanasi are all set to welcome you.

The mornings will not be the same because there would waft the sounds of flute, notes of tambura and voices of Kabir singers singing from a repertoire of songs of the mystic poet, all orchestrated on the lap of the ancient ghats of Varanasi as the Mahindra Kabira Festival kicks off tomorrow evening with a grand opening event at the royal Brij Rama Palace.

More in this transformational journey will be literature sessions on themes around Kabir’s life, lyrics and teachings, featuring the literary pop star of the country, Amish Tripathi on the majestic terrace of the Brij Rama.

When the horizon lights up with swirls of pink and orange, watch the sun sink against a purple sky glittering with silver stars, revel in the devout aarti of the godly river, followed by the soul of the festival when “Kabir Café” performs mixing pop, reggae, rock, folk fusion and Carnatic flavors with the verses of Kabir.

Indian music is modal and harmonious. During a performance, it is this mood and passion which the musician tries to evoke and explore, and according to ancient theory, this task is made easier if the performance takes place at a time and ambience appropriate to the raga being rendered.  The bustling ghats, the rich aroma of flowers and incense sticks, the deep sound of the conch shell make the ghats a perfect venue for the Mahindra Kabira evening music programme featuring the likes of Rajan Sajan Mishra, Mukhtiyar Ali, Vidya Shah, Shabnam Virmani & more.

The visit to Varanasi is incomplete without delving deep into the labyrinths of the city. Just exploring the narrow alleys and observing things along the mystical Ganga are more than enough to keep one occupied and fascinated. Heritage walks curated by the city’s best tour guides will make sure that even the hidden gems of the city do not go unexplored.

Varanasi, often lauded by the food connoisseurs, has streets dotted with weathered, blackened cauldrons bubbling with hot oil, serving piping hot kachoris, pakoras and chaats. For your sweet tooth Varanasi is a surfeit of sweets and of course, the rich sumptuous pedas are a must have. Wash it down with the mouth-watering lassi made with home made yoghurt, a little sugar and finally, the creme de la creme– a dollop of fresh cream topped by a few slivers of pistachios and fruit. Don’t forget to end your meals with Varanasi’s famous paan that comes with a strong punch of extra mint.

A must visit for history buffs is the Sarnath museum, having a collection of  6,832 sculptures and artifacts, the main attraction being the famous original sandstone sculpted Lion Capital of Ashoka which has  been adopted as the National Emblem of India. The museum holds within it an enchanting tale of history displaying  Mauryan glories in architecture.

During the languor of a free afternoon explore the minuscule weavers’ shops offering intricate patterns of floral designs and elaborate zari or threadwork saris. The possibilities are endless.

The halcyon days await – The Mahindra Kabira Festival is waiting for you!!

 

– Krati Arora