Varanasi, a Boat ride, the Ghats, a Stupa and three Lions.
Varanasi Travel Blog› entry 12 of 13 › view all entries
Varanasi, Boat trip on the Ganges, a Buddhist Stupa and three Lions..
Good God, today we have to be up and at em by 5am! Somehow we manage it, Ashok our guide for the day took us on foot through a maze of tiny winding lanes and alleys absolutely chocker with people and animals, we had to be careful not to actually lose some of our group among the crowd • even at this time of the morning, when it is rather dark, so many are out and about.
We were quickly out on to the filthy dirty sacred river and being gently rowed out into the sunrise, oh what a wonderful sight to see the sun shine a path across the water, we all felt it was quite mystical, a Spiritual experiance.
The man rowing the boat handed us all a little boat made of leaves with a tiny bit of candle inside, we lit these and gently placed them into the water where they floated away. All the hundreds of tiny lights from all the other boats and those on shore too made a lovely sight. I think if your boat didn’t sink but floated out of sight you were meant to return to the Ganges sometime in the future.
It was just lovely being out on the water; I am a water loving person.
As we drifted along we watched happenings on the riverbank • the Ghats. People from all over come to this place for ‘purification’ imagine in such filthy waster one could feel purified, but they do, and although if we had fallen into this river we most likely would have come down with typhoid or some other ghastly disease that would probably kill us, these Indian people here for purification actually drink the stuff and pour it all over themselves, strip right off to the nude and go right under the water, often while praying and chanting. Crowds gathered to do this, both men and women all mixed in together on many of the places, though I understand some parts are just for ladies and some just for men.
We drifted further along to where there were fires burning, funeral pyres, piles of firewood stacked just right on top of a recently dead person, who was to be cremated by their family right there in the holy of holiest places • to them • that would guarantee their immediate acceptance into Nirvana. Yeah maybe! When the fire has burned down and there is not too much left all the ashes are just swept into the Ganges. Is it any wonder the water is a filthy dark brown and smelly. Apparently sometimes there is not enough wood available to burn the body properly and the whole, but charred a little, body is just pushed into the river, but fortunately we didn’t come upon any floaters!
Probably the best thing I could see about it was that it was all family and friends who did the burning and sweeping, the last loving thing they could do for their loved ones.
There were many of these ghats we saw as we drifted slowly past, maybe some were for other purposes too, but soon it was time to land the boat and return through the maze of lanes back to the hotel. Good job we had a guide I could never have found my way back, and as we had not yet had breakfast I was quite keen to get back.
After breakfast it was back into a bus again, we were taken to a Buddhist Temple and stupa, at Sarnath, there were some ancient ruins and it was quite interesting to hear the story behind them plus to hear for the first time about the Buddhist religion. It was a very peaceful place full of gentle people; monks most of them. The Stupa was a strange thing, can’t say I really understand its significance, most be something inside the huge great chunk of concrete that makes up the stupa, maybe Budda’s toe nail clippings or something.
At Sarnath we were shown the three sided Lion monument made of a solid piece of snow white marble, that is India’s most prized possession and the symbol of India, how it came to be in a Buddhist museum in Varanasi, rather than in New Delhi, or in Hindu extablishment, I have no idea. I was pleased to have seen and touched it. We saw heaps more interesting things at this museum, but I can't remmber any of the rest.
We returned to the hotel for a short nap as we were all very weary, plus we need to get packed again as tomorrow we leave for Kathmandu Nepal. Will be quite sorry to leave India, its been a great adventure.
In the evening Andy the tour leader gathered us all around to scare the life out of us all with his scary tales of the ghastly things that will happen to us in Nepal, made it sound like we should be lucky to survive at all.
Went out to the Hindustani Restaurant with Mary and John and a few others, but didn’t stay long, I thought I needed an early night after my outbursts of fright earlier.