Surreal and so interesting

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Friday, November 11, 2011

Varanasi is an amazing place, the holy River Ganges, the Ghat's and the lanes, I find myself strangely loving this place!!  Although death surrounds us and the sights and smells of the Burning Ghats will never leave me, it's also such a spiritual place for the people who bathe in it, wash their clothes in it, and ultimately give their dead to it.


Families bring their sick to the Ganges to bathe before they die because it is their holy place.  I saw a woman in a rickshaw all hooked up to a drip being taken by her family to the river before she died.  Although I don't know enough about these religions, people come from all over India to bathe and be cremated here.  Certain groups of people are not allowed to be cremated though, for example children under five, pregnant women, priests to name but a few, apparently they are weighted down before being put to the river but they don't always stay down


I have walked endlessly along the river people watching, i attended 'puja' (prayers) in the evening which lasts around an hour, at the end everyone lights candles and floats them down river with their intentions, I join in and say a wee prayer of my own.  I went out in the boat to watch sunrise which was very calm and quiet, and passing the burning ghats is very spiritual.  The rituals of buying the wood, washing the body before clothing them, creating pyres to actually burning the bodies, each of which takes around 3 hours apparently.  After the cremation all the men go and bathe together in the river, fascinating.


I wander back through the back lanes with my friend Mary when we stumble on local houses, we were lost and nearly ended up right in their homes and couldn't find a out way out.  Luckily enough they were very nice and even asked us to take some photographs which they were delighted by.  Mary managed to get some real crackers of the children all pulling faces and laughing.  It gave us a wee bit of an insight as to how they live here, which is very basic and very simply.


We headed back along the river to the Dolphin Restaurant which was several floors up and had the most fantastic view overlooking the River Ganges, you could see for miles. Strangely enough I am aware that everyone seems to be flying kites from the river bank and from the rooftops which is very strange considering death is all around us. It really is a surreal place.

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