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Mukti Bhavan: A Guesthouse For The Dying | 101 Heartland

You won't search for this place while visiting Varanasi. It's just for those about to die.

Mukti Bhavan is the kind of guest house in Varanasi that will never show up in your travel plans. It caters to one specific group of tourists: those coming to the city to die. In Hindu mythology, it is believed that a soul that passes away in the holy city of Varanasi (Kashi in the scriptures) is guaranteed salvation - freedom from the endless cycle of life and death. Mukti Bhavan is one of the places in Varanasi that takes in the thousands that flock to the city at the end of their lives.

Set up by a trust in the year 1958, Mukti Bhavan is currently operated by Bhairavnath. In his time, he has seen over 14,000 deaths at the guest house, and says he remembers each one. Mukti Bhavan arranges for rooms for the families of the dying, conducting prayer services every two hours. They provide their guests with holy water, and help the families in the moment of death. Reading holy verses, performing rituals based on scripture, Mukti Bhavan serves the dying in every way they can.

Outside the metros and beyond the urban jungle live the sons and daughters of India’s heartland. This series tells their stories. 101 Heartland celebrates both unique communities and individual tales of hope, struggle, and reform. From the village of bouncers just outside Delhi to the fascinating story of Ram Kumar Tyagi, once a wanted man but now a coach for aspiring female wrestlers, 101 Heartland tells stories for the heart, from the heartland.