The Assi Ghat in Varanasi is one of the most pious places of pilgrimage in India. The land is spread across several acres adjoining the river Ganga and is home to some of the most learned Hindu scholars. A lot of people visit Assi Ghat to learn Sanskrit, meet spiritual guides and take a dip in the holy river to wash off their sins. But Indian cultures and knowledge is not the only thing that this place has to offer.
One of the main reasons why a lot of tourists visit Assi Ghat is because its a hotspot for hippies. Assi Ghat has some of the best Marijuana, Hashish and Bhang to offer. In Fact, it is said that almost 80% of the people who reside in the area consume products derived from Cannabis.
Cannabis consumption is illegal in India but at Assi Ghat everything is allowed as long as you are ready to say Har Har Mahadev! While there are a lot of government authorized Bhang shops in Assi, Almost every other Paan Shop, Sweet shop, and even ‘Chai Tapri’ sells Bhang. Weed and has is also sold under the table and the locals will help you find only the best stash.
So how does a town stop the cops from interfering in their process of getting high? They literally mob them! If cops try to shut down shops that sell Bhang or weed, the locals mob the cops and say that they won’t let modern rules and regulations take over their century-old customs and tradition. They call it Mahadev Ka Prasad and if anyone tries to take it away, they get furious.
Marijuana has been a part of Assi’s culture since it was documented. The Ghat is home to a number of saints and Sadhus who smoke weed almost all the time as they feel it brings them closer to god. During festivals like Mahashivratri and Holi, literally, every person you meet will have a head full of cannabinoids. And while the locals help you find weed, protect you if you are caught and will open their doors to give you lessons about the Hindu religion, they will get furious if you break their rules.
The locals expect you to follow certain guidelines in the city. While it is completely fine to consume bhang in the streets, they advise that you smoke up in a secluded place away from trouble. Most of the locals are Bhramins and eating non-vegetarian food is simply not entertained. As much as they love getting you high, they don’t want you creating a ruckus on the streets so if you are someone who can’t handle their pot, best stay in your room.
And lastly, the locals say that the Ganga flows through their heart. They don’t like you doing anything that would make the place impure. So don’t go around throwing trash.
Apart from getting high, Assi has a lot of activities to offer. You can take a boat ride and if you are lucky enough, you may spot a pack of river dolphins. Assi also has a lot of libraries where you can find old Hindu scriptures and books that may help guide you through the path of life. You can also take up courses in Sanskrit, Hindu literature and even classical Indian music at the Banaras Hindu University or get an actual Brahmin to tutor you.
The massive Poojas that happen on the bank of the Ganga river is also an experience that you won’t find anywhere else but here. And if you are on a journey to find your self or the meaning of life, Assi is one of the best places you can camp at as you decipher texts from spiritual books.