Varanasi - the most amazing Indian city

Varanasi Travel Blog

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Woman washing in the Gangas early in the morning (6am)

We got to Varanasi around noon with a train from Gorakpur (the city close to the Nepali border). In the train station the head police officer stopped us and gave us a map with some tips on places to stay (pointing out his cousin's hotel as the best hotel in the city). He said he is helping us out cuz some tourists disappeared in Varanasi, so we took his advice. We took 2 Rickshas (we were 4 people) and had the first crazy moto Ricksha drive in Varanasi, including going in the opposite lane and bumping into some cars and a cow in the way. After a few days you get used to this Ricksha drives in Varanasi, but the first time is the craziest.

We reached the hotel, somewhere in the middle of the old city, you can only walk to the hotel cuz the streets are too narrow with huge cows in the middle.

The burning bodies Ghat. The building on the left with all the floors is where the old people wait for dieing and their turn to be burned
The owner took us to see two rooms, one of them had a balcony so me and my friend went out to see the view and we saw some big monkey sitting there (also our first in the city). We started to laugh and the monkey saw our teeth and got angry at us, starting running and we got shit scared and ran into the building. In the end we took two rooms with no balcony. I didn't want to mess around with sick monkies.

The temparature was like hell, 45 degrees celsius, everything stinks, the cowshit is intolerable and the flies are annoying. This is Varanasi. Well not precisely, you have to add to that the garbage in the streets, the sick dogs that you are afraid of them that they might attack you when you pass next to them, and ofcourse the huge cows going everywhere there.

monks performing the ceremony of sacrifice of food
Also the people pee and shit in the streets and ... well ... let's say that every night it's good to wash your feet because you stepped on some kind of shit during the day (no skipping on that one!).

Early in the next morning we went to see the sunrise on the Gangas (took a boat ride) and we saw also the beautiful Ghats and ofcourse the burning one. It was less exciting than the one in Nepal (see my review about Pashupatinath) but it was a good experience. Especially watching the old people standing in the balconies of the building next to the burning area waiting for their time to come. It's amazing to think about all the old people in India who travel to Varanasi and just wait to die so they will be burned on the river which is the holiest river and helps the soul to get to heaven.

The lovely streets of Varanasi
They say that the women from the family of the dead can't participate in the burning ceremony because the dead must leave in silence and calm and if a woman will cry the dead will be disturbed and stay on earth. So only men participate in that.

Later during the day (and the following couple of days) we wandered around town, having fun with the people, laughing a lot, playing cricket with kids in the streets (between cows and shit), avoiding the diseased dogs, taking Ricksha rides just for fun, and enjoying the spirit of the city.

I have to say something about Varanasi. I think this city is the most amazing City in India (well at least from the ones I've been to). People say it's dirty, it's ugly, it's full of shit and sick people, dogs and cows. But I think that this is what makes it so amazing. It's a true cultural city, where you can really feel the people and the indian culture at it's best. It's very holy there, and you can enjoy your time there as long as you take it easy and don't get excited over the filth in the streets. And if the filth is too much for you, just take an hotel outside of the old city, which is a bit cleaner (but with cars).

Overall, Varanasi is much cleaner and arranged than the average african city, so if you've been to Africa, Varanasi is kids play for you. And again - this city is a must!!!

tweedcouch says:
thank you very much for sharing.
Posted on: May 03, 2009
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Woman washing in the Gangas early …
Woman washing in the Gangas early…
The burning bodies Ghat. The build…
The burning bodies Ghat. The buil…
monks performing the ceremony of s…
monks performing the ceremony of …
The lovely streets of Varanasi
The lovely streets of Varanasi
Hey cow! where are you going?
Hey cow! where are you going?
kids in the streets
kids in the streets
Playing Cricket with the kids in t…
Playing Cricket with the kids in …
the cool cricket kids we played wi…
the cool cricket kids we played w…
Sadhu or just a pothead?
Sadhu or just a pothead?
This boy came to me and asked me t…
This boy came to me and asked me …
ceremony of the dead monkey who di…
ceremony of the dead monkey who d…
Not for the weak hearted - another…
Not for the weak hearted - anothe…
Varanasi
photo by: rotorhead85