Dev Deepawali - When Gods visit Varanasi to celebrate

(Video on Dev Diwali)
It is always fun when you travel with like minded people, and if such a travel was leading me to Varanasi, how could I step back. This time I went to cover Dev Diwali. I was with the Photographers Club of Agra.
On our Day 1 at evening we all set together for Varanasi. Our train reservation was from Tundla to Deen Dayal Upadhyay junction. Odd! but we found no direct train. Tundla is 25 km from Agra for which we took Bus and from Deen Dayal junction Varanasi is like 15 km for which we took taxi in morning.

With Photographers club of Agra
By 12 PM we reached to our destination on our Day 2. We has already pre-booked our hotel which I will recommend as in the late hours it is difficult to find a hotel.
As planned in afternoon we were on the Ghats till late evening where we also saw Ganga aarti at Dashshwamedha ghat.
We found that people had already started making Rangoli. Some were preparing for theatre and some singing. Ghats were getting cleaned and all this was happening for Dev Diwali which was after two days.
And among all these activities two ghats were burning as usual. Typical Varanasi.
In the evening we had a wonderful dinner with my younger brother Shyam who lives here and also had Banarasi Paan :O. "Ab Banaras aaye aur paan nahi khaya to kya kiya"

Ganga aarti at Dashshawamedh Ghat


At Harishchandra ghat
Check for the Video on Ghats and life of Varanasi
On our Day 3, we went to see Sarnath in the morning. Check the full video on Sarnath
Sarnath was quite different as they were also celebrating some festival, and a lot of devotees from all over the world who follow Buddhism were there.
First we saw the archaeological ruins and then went to see Mulangkuti vihar temple. Actually around Dev Diwali time, here at Sarnath they display tooth reic of Buddha. Photography is not allowed inside the temple on these days.
It was almost time to leave Sarnath but how can we leave without Silk saree!
Towards the end, we also saw Digambar Jain temple and Museum.
In the evening we were once again on the ghats of Varanasi where we again witnessed the Ganga Aarti . But this time at Assi ghat.
By late evening, ghats were lightened up and we had street food as our dinner.
Also by this time, all the members who come from Agra and west Bengal got to know about the streets, people, crowed of this place. This was the only reason that I made program like this.

Archaeological ruins of Sarnath


Mulangkuti vihar temple

Ganga aarti at Assi ghat
DAY 4 (Dev Deepawali)
Our Day 4 morning should start with morning Ganga aarti at Assi ghat (since our hotel was at Assi ghat) but it was so much crowded that we all not able to make up on time. It was November 12, 2019, Dev Deepawali day.
Though taking bath in river Ganga is the main ritual whenever you come to Varanasi, but at this time, it is believed even Gods from heaven descend to Earth for it. So it is kind of auspicious.
Even though half a million people arrived at ghats, still morning here was as usual captivating.
We stuck to our plan and went to see Tulsi Akhada (Indian gyms. Know more about it from Ghats of Varanasi video) and then went to see Lolarkund mahadev temple. All thanks to Shubham who told us about it.
This temple is built near the water pool roughly 50 feet deep and couple mainly take a dip here who are devoide of giving birth and desire to have children in their life. In the narrow streets of Varanasi and seeing this big spacious temple surprised me.

Morning at Assi ghat

Tulsi Akharada


Lolark kund Mahadev Mandir
After this we took a little rest and came back again to ghats in evening. All roads were blocked and we took small streets to reach to ghats and I love to see how local people doing their work. Thousands of Diyas (earth lamps) were getting aligned on every stairs of ghats and also in figure of Aum and Diyas itself.

After noon of Dev Diwali festival
We were at Kedar ghat that time and we need to go to Panch ganga ghats from where this festival start. It was a long walk and we also need to cross the ocean of crowd. Boat rates were extremely high that day and so it was not the option and so we kept on moving, making our way and I thought that the figure of half of million people at this place was totally wrong. There must be a full million people. At the same time everywhere locals were putting the diyas which made me wonder.
We all met our friends (who live in Varanasi) at Panch ganga ghat and by then people also started pouring oil in the diyas. You know it its an open service. Even you can do it. And one more thing, this celebration is not government funded. Locals pools their money for it.
Beautiful Rangolies were filled with colour and as sun goes down everybody started lighting up the diyas and I also became the part of it this time.

Evening on Dev Diwali festival


Lighting up the Diyas
As night comes by the whole world around us changed. Beautiful is the small word now. This is also what Dev Diwali means to lighting up the Diyas evening and offer prayers to sacred River Ganga.
I won't say that I was not affected by the million people around us. I would say, it was horrifically crowded but then this is Varanasi. We kept on moving slowly and trying our best to grasp everything in camera, in memory and in heart as well.
While covering our distance back to Assi ghat, I saw Ganga aarti, some theatre at Manikarnika ghat, a play at Kedar ghat, happy faces, posing faces (as there were so many photographers) fire crackers and slowly slowly Diyas leaving heir light and so the people at ghats. It was also our time to leave this place but before that we too lightened up our sky lantern. It was an amazing experience that I had.

Night of Dev Diwali festival

Night of Dev Diwali festival
Our day 5 morning went with photography work shop arranged by Tamron lens India, where my Photographers club of Agra and Global photography form took part.
How could I miss the boat ride in Varanasi though, na, not at all possible.
After having our breakfast in some deep spider web street of Varansi, we went back to hotel for rest. In afternoon I was again on the ghats to see it, and I found everything was getting cleared up so neatly like the festival never happened.
In evening we took our train back to Agra and on our Day 6 we were back to our homes.

Photography workshop sponsored by Tamron lenses

During boat ride


The day after Dev Diwali

Drained off

Back to Agra
So this was all about my experience for Dev Deepawali. Will be back with some another destination very soon.
How to reach
Varanasi have its own airport and it is well connected with trains and buses from all the major cities of India
When to reach for Dev Deepawali 
Dev Deepawali happens roughly after the big fest Diwali in India. Every year date changes. So it better to check it on google whenever you decide to come for that particular year.
Where to stay
Varanasi is have variety of hotels, hostels, guest house, home-stay. You can book it online according to your budget. But for Dev Diwali please book at-least 3 months before the festival. As on these days to get accommodation is quite difficult.
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