Varanasi

Trip Start Jun 07, 2008
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Trip End Apr 05, 2009


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Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Friday, June 13, 2008

EN:
We took the night train from Delhi to Varanasi and expected the worst, but it was not that horrible after all mainly because we booked the first class on a sleeper and were alone in the compartment. The train arrived only 1 hour late to Varanasi which on a 12 hours trip was a miracle considering these were the Indian railways. So we were lucky!

Varanasi is situated on the west bank of the Ganges and it's India's holiest Hindu city. Every Hindu person wants to come to Varanasi and take a bath in the Ganges as it clears all the sins. All Hindus want to be cremated here as they will rise straight to nirvana. The 90 or so gaths (stairs leading to the Ganges) define the life and identity of the city.

This city is even dirtier then Delhi, but the air is cleaner, probably because in the old town the streets are so narrow that only a motorcycle (and hardly) can go through. You can find much more animals in this city, mainly cows, goats, sheep, dogs, and monkeys. The locals are much more used to tourists here, so nobody was trying to take a picture of Eva anymore. They are also much more advanced in different forms of begging and ways of ripping off tourists. We found accommodation in a hotel right at the ghats, our room was in a small tower, so the shape of it was round with some traditional Indian decorations. Our balcony was overlooking the Rana Mahal Ghat and the river. When we saw the amount of dead mosquitoes on the walls, we decided to set up the mosquito net for the first time.

There are over 700 temples in Varanasi, most of them dedicated to Shiva, some temples are also Buddhist and you can even find a few mosques. The holiest place of all is the river Ganges itself, it is the center of all action, 24 hours a day. There are ceremonies on the ghats going on every morning and every evening, people swim in Ganges every day, they wash their clothing and cows in it and send off some of the dead. People bring flowers and candles every day and offer them to the river. The most impressive thing is the constant burning of the dead bodies at the Marnikarnika Ghat where hundreds of cremations are performed every day. Relatives bring their dead to the holy river from all parts of the country and even from abroad and burn them with so called eternal fire which has been burning for thousands years. The only bodies that don't get burnt are the holy men, children under 16, people with leprosy, pregnant women and people who died from a snake bite. These bodies are thrown in the Ganges, as well as dead animals.

The centre of the city is one big chaos - shops, markets, children, beggars, cows, their shit everywhere, and all sorts of vehicles. Other than that, we felt pretty safe, just needed to watch our pockets, but that's the same everywhere.

Apart from the ghats, it's worth to pay a visit to the New Golden Temple and to the Monkey Temple. Both of them are located close to the university which is the biggest in Asia. We also visited Sarnath (only 20 minutes by auto-rickshaw from Varanasi), which is the holiest place for Buddhists. This is the place of Buddha's first major sermon after his enlightenment, and you can find several nice temples here and a small museum.


PT:
Desde Deli, apanhamos um comboio nocturno para Varanasi. A viagem correu melhor do que esperavamos, muito devido ao facto de viajarmos em 1a classe. Por sorte, calhou-nos um compartimento so para nos 2, e assim pudemos relaxar durante toda a viagem. Chegamos a Varanasi depois de 13 horas de viagem, apenas uma hora de atraso.

Varanasi fica na margem oeste do Ganges, e e a mais sagrada cidade para os Hindus. Todos os Hindus querem vir a Varanasi banhar-se nas aguas do Ganges, pois assim lavam todos os seus pecados, e aspiram tambem ser aqui cremados depois da sua morte pois daqui ascendem directamente ao Nirvana. Os cerca de 90 ghath (escadarias que descem ate ao ganges, definem a vida e identidade de Varanasi.

Esta cidade e ainda mais suja do que Deli. Junto aos ghats, a cidade velha e um emaranhado de ruelas estreitas onde apenas podem circular pessoas, bicicletas, motos, e, e claro muitas vacas, estas estao por todo o lado, assim como as suas bostas. Para alem das vacas tambem ha inumeros caes, cabras e montes de macacos. As pessoas aqui estao mais habituadas a turistas, e sao muito mais sofisticadas nas artes de pedir, e de sacar dinheiro aos turistas. O nosso hotel ficava mesmo nos ghats, e o nosso quarto no topo de uma pequena torre muito picturesca. O interior do quarto apesar de simples, eram muito interessante pois o edificio e bastante antigo. Quando vimos o numero de mosquitos mortos nas paredes, decidimos usar a rede mosquiteira pela 1a vez.

Em Varanasi ha mais de 700 templos, na sua gande maioria sao dedicados a Shiva, mas tambem ha templos budistas e algumas mesquitas. O local mais sagrado e o proprio rio Ganges, e este e o centro de toda a accao 24 horas por dia. Todos os dias ha cerimonias nos gaths ao nascer e por do sol, as pessoas banham-se e nadam no rio, ai lavam a sua roupa, dao banho as vacas, depositam flores e velas, e tambem os seus mortos. O mais impressionante e a continua cremacao de corpos no Marnikarnika Ghat, centenas todos os dias. Pessoas de toda a India, e tambem do estrangeiro, trazem os seus familiares mortos para aqui serem cremados. As piras funerarias sao ateadas com o fogo eterno que arde initerruptamente ha milhares de anos. Nem todos os corpos sao cremados, os de criancas com menos de 16 anos, mulheres gravidas, homens santos, leprosos, e pessoas que morreram de mordeduras de cobra sao embrulhados ritualmente e atirados ao rio, os corpos de animais sao simplesmente deitados ao rio.

Para alem dos ghats, tambem vale a pena visitar o Novo Templo Dourado, e o Templo dos Macacos, ambos situados perto da universidade, que e a maior da Asia. Tambem visitamos Sarnath (a apenas 20 minutos de auto-riquexo) que e tao sagrada para os Budistas como Varanasi para os Hindus. Este e o sitio do 1o grande sermao de Buda depois de ter sido iluminado, e la existem varios templos e um museu arqueologico.

CZ:
Z Delhi do Varanasi jsme jeli nocnim vlakem a ocekavali to nejhorsi, ale jak se ukazalo, nebylo to vubec strasny, hlavne proto, ze jsme meli misto v 1. tride luskoveho vozu a pripadlo na nas kupicko pouze se dvema lehatky, takze jsme tam byli sami (v ostatnich to bylo po ctyrech). Na dvanactihodinove trase nabral vlak pouze hodinu zpozdeni, coz je na indicke drahy docela vykon, takze jsme meli stesti.

Varanasi je jeste spinavejsi nez Delhi, ale je tu o neco cistsi vzduch, nejspis proto, ze ulicky v centru mesta jsou tak uzoucke, ze tu sotva projede motorka. O to vic je tu krav, koz, ovci, psu a opic. Na turisty jsou tu lide mnohem zvyklejsi, takze uz si me nikdo nefotil, ale take jsou mnohem vynalezavejsi v ruznych formach zebrani a sizeni nebohych turistu, nas nevyjimaje. Ubytovali jsme se v kulatem pokojicku ve vezi hned na ghatech (schody do Gangy) a podle mnozstvi komarich mrtvolek na zdi jsme usoudili, ze bude asi nejlepsi hned vytahnout moskytieru.

Varanasi je nejsvatejsim mistem Hinduistu, nachazi se zde vice nez 700 chramu a kaplicek, prevazne hinduistickych (zasvecenych bohu Shiva), ale i budhistickych a nekolik mesit. Za kazdou kaplicku lide zasadili strom. Nejsvatejsim mistem je ale zamozrejme samotna reka Ganga, ktera je stredem veskereho deni, od usvitu do usvitu. Kazde rano a kazdy vecer zde na ghatech probihaji mse a ruzne slavnosti, mistni obyvatele se v Ganze pravidelne koupou (aby smyli hrichy), perou v ni pradlo, plavi kravy a pohrbivaji nektere mrtve. Denne rece prinaseji dary v podobe kvetin a svicek. Nejpusobivejsi je asi kazdodenni nepretrzite verejne paleni mrtvych, ktere probiha na Manikarnika Ghatu. Lide sem svazeji sve mrtve ze vsech koutu zeme i ze zahranici, aby jejich duse mohla opustit telo na svatem miste u reky Gangy a jit rovnou do nirvany. Zapaluji se tzv. vecnym ohnem, ktery pry uz nepretrzite hori nekolik tisic let. Nespaluji se jenom lide, kteri umreli na lepru (aby se nemoc popelem nesirila), usknuti hadem (had je na hlave boha Shivy), deti, protoze jsou nevinne, tehotne zeny (nosi v sobe dite), svati muzi (nehresi) a zvirata (sandalove drevo na paleni je vlmi drahe!). Tato tela se hazi rovnou do svate reky Gangy. Majitel krematoria je sice clenem velmi nizke kasty, ale v praxi je to velice vlivny a bohaty muz - on urcuje cenu dreva a zda se bude vubec palit, no a palit se proste musi, takze ma vsechny na haku.

Centrum mesta je jeden velky chaos - kramky, trhy, deti, zebraci, kravska lejna na kazdem kroku a do toho vsechny mozne dopravni prostredky. Jinak je tu pomerne bezpecno, jenom je treba davat si pozor na kapsare, ale to je vlastne stejne, jako vsude jinde. Za navstevu (krome ghatu) rozhodne stoji Novy Zlaty Chram a Opici Chram, oba jsou v tesne blizkosti univerzity, ktera je mimochodem nejvetsi v Asii. Z Varanasi jsme se take zajeli podivat do Sarnathu, ktery je pro zmenu nejsvatejsim mistem Budhistu. Je tu nekolik chramu na pocest vubec prvni Budhovy mse, kterou zde slouzil.
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