Short Cuts

A SHOP WITH A VIEW Amid a congested web of alleyways and devotional shops that make up the old city stands the 226-year-old Vishwanath Temple, commonly known as the Golden Temple for its gilded domes. Because it's Varanasi's holiest shrine, it's not welcoming to non-Hindus, who are considered impure. Armed guards at the periphery bark questions, demanding to know where you're from, and why you want to enter. The body pats, as much an antiterrorism measure as a search for concealed cameras (photographing the temple is a sacrilege), are disconcertingly thorough.

The inner sanctum, choked with chanting de- votees, is barred to...

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