Strolling the Streets of a Holy City

The Sounds of Varanasi:


Dr. Debra Jan Bibel


December 17, 2014



"This album mixes tracks of brief North Indian music recitals with field recordings of the ambient sound in Varanasi (Benares), the holy city on the Ganges. Together, they impart the flavor of a day-long stroll about the city.


The open microphone captures a morning mantra chanted by old men; monkeys arguing over a piece of bread; a temple mantra prayer of "Sita-Ram" accompanied by hand cymbals and dholak barrel drum; wedding drums and children in an alley; a temple chant at dusk; the ritual with bells and drums, bhajan prayers, and the lighting of butter-soaked wicks; and an evening chant in a temple. The instrumentals of classical ragas, bhajan prayers, and folk dhuns feature sitar, violin, bansuri flute, harmonium, and tabla.


The producer and musical director is Srdjan Beronja, a Serbian tablist, who dwells in India, the Middle East, and Europe. Package notes provide full details about each raga, prayer, and ambient sound and credits the performing musicians.


Though not Varanasi, I did visit India and Nepal, where I heard such sounds during my own rambles. This album may trigger your own travel memories or perhaps stimulate a mindful audio meander of your own town. 59 minutes."


- Dr. Debra Jan Bibel