Varanasi is hosting a four-day Kashi Balloon and Boat Festival
New Delhi, India: To mark the first-ever SCO delegation visit, Banaras is hosting a Hot Air Balloon and Boating Festival called Kashi Balloon and Boat Festival from 17th to 20th of January i2023. This teeming and bustling spiritual heart of India - is ready to give a bird's eye view of its sacred- scape - quite literally from a fleet of unique hot air balloons - wandering amongst the clouds. A series of 10 balloons with top balloonists from six countries will take flight over its eponymous ghats - where the guests can see the life-ending climactic rituals, Kashi's landlocked temple scape, and the dramatic throng of pilgrims taking their redemptive dips in the holy river.
This is also followed by a boat racing festival which aims to take the cultural landmark of Varanasi, its fabled 'Naukas' or boats, and package it in the form of a unique adventure sport for the high-end, contemporary traveler. Twelve Teams of professional boat rowers and traditional boatmen from will train to negotiate the Naukas, the flow and snarls of Ganga in a four-day racing event that aims to become a landmark event in the future for travelers.
The local sporting teams are christened as Navik Sena, Nauka Riders, Bhagirathi Sevaks, Ghat Keepers, Ganga Vahini, Jal Yodhas, Ganga Lahiri, Ganga Putra, Kashi Lahiri, Gaumukh Giants, Kashi Keepers, Jal Sena. Experts are training the new generation of sporting talent of Kashi for this unique boat race league.
Four Day sporting event has a new rulebook and is based on the point system where teams will compete every day to collect points and the team that amassed the cumulative top score will be accorded the title and the championship. Champions get to take collective prize money of INR 2.10 lakhs home.
The racing track starts from Dashashwamedh Ghat to Rajghat with a total stretch of 3 km. The traditional Naukas from Kashi is 15 feet long with a hull of about 4 feet - that is helmed by a captain and four more rowers who row it manually to navigate the water currents.
The event will also be hosting top international and nationally acclaimed indie/folk musicians like Nathu Lal Solanki, Prem Joshua, Kabir Cafe, and Kashi's homegrown talent Sukhdev Prasad Mishra on Rajghat every evening - open for the public to immerse in the soulful music.
There are also a host of other activities like a Photography exhibition by acclaimed photographers of the city- that will be on display in Rajghat followed by an array of several art and painting competitions for Kashi's artistic soul to spill over on canvas for the world to see.
Commissioner Kaushal Raj Sharma, on this occasion, said that the ancient city of Kashi has many alternate perspectives and transformative experiences that needs to be packaged and branded for the new age traveler.
This new offering will add yet another experience for the tourist and will bring Varanasi as the top spot to be experienced for many premium and high value tourists from across the world. He also added the post covid template for tourism is going to be about building authentic experiences and translate traditions into modern packaging for sustainable tourism.
He also added that our natural capital like the 'traditional boatmenship' and our cultural traditions like 'Naukas' needs to be at the forefront of these contemporary movements and Varanasi needs to be a global cultural capital for all kinds of travelers- seeking exploratory and high-end travel.