City of the dead

Trip Start May 03, 2011
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146
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Trip End Jan 31, 2013


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Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Sunday, January 20, 2013

Varanasi, one of the most bizarre places in the world. A city where cremating the death is the order of the day and people from all over India come here to say bye to the deceased and clean them in the holy water of the Ganges river. After the death are washed and shaved they will be cremated on a bed of wood (300 kg wood, 1kg costs 250 Rs) and will burn for 3 hours while the family and every other interested spectator can watch. Then the remaining bones (the chest bone for the men and the hip bone for the women) are thrown in the river. In this way the body is cleaned of all sin so the soul can be at rest. People who do not have committed any sins (children below 10, pregnant women, lepers, people who are bitten by a snake, and the holy men called 'Sadhus') are not being burnt but are attached to a big rock and dropped in the river so they sink to the bottom. Once in a while a rope snaps and the dead bodies come up again and I met some people who witnessed this…creapy! Apart from people also the dead animals like dogs, cows and monkees are taken to the middle of the river and thrown over attached to a stone. Quite a scary idea that there are thousands of dead bodies around you in this place and that the Indian people bath in the same water every morning and even drink it!?!

You can imagine that this is an interesting place to hang around for a few days and the backpacker scene is also quite cool. Because so many Indians come here also everything is available here and bhang lassi, weed , opium and hash is available at every street corner. A really bizarre and contrary place this Varanasi.

Practical stuff

-          Shanti guesthouse is cheap (200 Rs), full of interesting people and close to the main burning Ghat so look no further. 
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