Back on the Northern Railway
New Delhi Travel Blog› entry 4 of 22 › view all entries
On our last day in Varanasi we got up to see sunrise over the Ganges - a beautiful red ball reflected in the river and slowly turning orange, then yellow. Men and women bathed at dawn, just a minute or so in the water with a quick duck under, before changing into dry clothes. We walked along the ghats to see the now familiar activities. A young man picked us up and became our guide. He took us through the old city, a maze of souk-like narrow allies with temples, shrines, occasional cows and big crowds and armed police around the main Golden Temple. We wouldn't have found it without him - he got a good tip.
Luggage collected, autorickshaw negotiated, off to Varanasi Cantt Station for the 7.15pm train. Huge crowds, no signs, unintelligible announcements.
By Allahabad at 10.00pm we'd made up the beds. As the train crossed the long viaduct over the Ganges, we saw thousands of tents at the holy Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and the (mythical) Saraswati rivers.
Sleep, of sorts, arrival in Delhi at 8.30, 40 minutes late, then an east taxiride to Canada, breakfast, shower and rest.
Varanasi grew on us. It's an extraordinary place of sacred and profane. The touts are as insistent, if not more so, than Agra. The city attracts westerners in search of - what? - spirituality? Older women in long skirts, lots of young men with dreadlocks and men and women with baggy trousers walk the ghats. Some sit in a lotus position contemplating the river. The water buffalo wallow just yards from the burning ghats and the dhobi wallahs work only a few more yards away. Hindu pilgrims cram onto boats and like pilgrims through the ages are there for a holiday too.
Unmissable - but don't make it your first stop in India!