The Holy City

Trip Start Jan 24, 2007
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Trip End Mar 12, 2007


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Saturday, February 17, 2007

A few temples, a university and another fort to see here, but the highlight was definitely the ghats. The university was impressive, the biggest one in India. There is a nice art museum and a smaller and newer Shiva Temple (the old one is not open to tourists due to terrorist threats).

I took a sunrise boat ride along the Ganges River to see the ghats and all the activity. The Hindus consider it holy water, they can wash away their sins here.

I was asked if I wanted to take a dip and politely refused. From previous reading I know that it is one of the most polluted areas on this particular river. According to their religion, if they are cremated on the banks of the Ganges they will receive enlightenment, no more reincarnations. So, if someone is sick they will do everything it takes to get to Varanasi. In the end they may not have enough money left to buy enough wood to finish the job. When the fire is out, whatever is left over (ashes, body parts, etc) is pushed in the river. Added to this, just upstream of the ghats sewers dump unprocessed sewage. I decided I didn't need to be blessed with this water! Afterwards I visited a couple of other smaller temples and then went back to the ghats in the afternoon for some of the most interesting people watching of my life!

That evening there was a ceremony at one of the ghats. Along the river people were selling banana leaves shaped into little boats with flowers and a candle inside. The river was beautiful with all the candles floating on it.

I decided to get in the spirit, I lit a candle and set it adrift for my cats--hope they still remember me!
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