By Olivia Sarkar
For most, Kaashi is the seat of the gods, one sees colourful throngs of pilgrims, a vast sacred-scape, and life-ending climactic ceremonies at the undulating ganga while navigating its crowded streets, which unfold like a broadway production and a costume drama all at once.
Many seekers, literary personalities, old world flaneurs, and residents flock to the ghats at Varanasi to take their redemptive holy plunge; with its antique charm, it has served as a continual muse.
In its attempt to enchant its apostles and acolytes with another perspective, on the occasion of Dev Deepawali, the city presented another distinct perspective for travellers to enjoy its mystic appeal and floating lights on its river. The Uttar Pradesh Tourism organised the Varanasi Hot Air Balloon Festival, for visitors to enjoy the joyous celebration of gods celebrating Diwali, and see the city in all its glory from an aerial view.
The Festival adds this experiential repertory, in addition to its landlocked beauties – temples, old paths, craft traditions, gastronomic cornucopia, and unravelling legends in every nook and corner.
This new offering, according to Mukesh Kumar Meshram, Principal Secretary, Culture and Tourism, adds another experience for explorers and will position Varanasi as a top destination for many premium and high-value travellers from around the world. He also stated that the post Covid tourism will focus on creating authentic experiences and traditions into modern packaging for long-term tourism sustainability.
On the occasion, Samit Garg, Founder and CEO of E-factor Entertainment who hosted the event said that this new offering adds an authentic and high-value offering for the city’s ‘living heritage,’ and that the city’s breath-taking terrain and bird’s eye view match perfectly in splendour with its wonderfully preserved wonders on the ground. He also stated that New Age travellers are looking for a new type of tourism that is not based on a single product but rather on a succession of fresh and transforming ‘experiences.’ There is a growing desire for ‘exploratory and experience travel’ over traditional leisure activities such as visiting tourist attractions.
The Varanasi Hot Air Balloon Festival, which runs from November 17 to 19, is intended to usher in a new era in Uttar Pradesh tourism for well-heeled global visitors.