Dayanita Singh
Dayanita Singh

Dayanita Singh

The photographer speaks of the unmatched luxury she enjoys in a Varanasi hotel

OT Favourite hotel in the world

Dayanita Singh Without a doubt, the Ganges View Hotel ( in Varanasi. You can read about it at length in Geoff Dyers&rsquo novel, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi.

OT Last visited

Dayanita Singh Last visit was in April. I go every three to six months. Whenever I can get a room.

OT The experience

Dayanita Singh The hotel is set at Assi Ghat. It has three floors now. I love staying on the top-most floor, where I spread my books on the verandah and read as I cannot anywhere else in the world. I seldom leave the hotel. From sunrise to sunset I sit on the verandah, watch the river in changing light and at eight go down for dinner. I try to time visits with the full moon and after dinner I watch the moon from the lower terrace.

I have met some very interesting minds in the hotel. For example, a cello player who would practise his dhrupad on the terrace. Often there are very fine concerts. I was sorry to miss the Gundecha Brothers. During the Dhrupad festival, I can lie in my room and hear the music from the next ghat. No luxury could come close to this.

Each room is unique and always changing. A miniature painter sits on the terrace and makes paintings as Shashank (the owner) requests. The most exquisite textiles drape the rooms, collected by fans of the hotel and Shashank&rsquos very fine eye curates each room &mdash each object has a story, a history.

On the ghat below is my favourite bookshop in India &mdash Harmony Books run by Rakesh Singh. The bookshop is a story in itself and the only reason for me to step down from the hotel. The hotel itself has a vast collection of rare art books.

OT And how is the food

Dayanita Singh Fantastic vegetarian food for dinner, the cooking of which Shashank&rsquos mother oversees. During the day, ginger lemon tea and cheese toast. I often ask for the house khichdi for lunch. Great wholewheat bread at breakfast.

OT The hotel&rsquos USP

Dayanita Singh Shashank, who makes you feel like an ever-welcome guest in his beautiful house. He is a true connoisseur. I have very engaging conversations with him, about life and books, and music and any topic under the moon. He has a great sense of humour.

OT When will you visit again

Dayanita Singh As soon as the rains come, to sit on the terrace and watch life and death go by, to touch base.

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