The holy place Varanasi at the Ganges where every Hindu wants to go to die is still very lively. We arrived after a long and tiring train journey at the Varanasi station. The porter, recognizable by a red shirt, helped us out of the train where we could cover the last meters up to the station on the rails. The porter arranged a taxi to our hotel. He took us to the taxi with the suitcases on his head.
The crowds in India were not too bad, but in Varanasi it is busy. Let’s say the superlative pressure. The tuk-tuk with our suitcases in the neck swayed between the holy cows, other tuk-tuks, only white cars, and rickshaws. Everyone drives around the holy cow. They are in the middle of the street and everyone really adapts. And this was still in the evening.
The next morning at sunrise we went with the porter of our guesthouse to the Ganges. He took us to a ghat near the hotel. Shivala Ghat, a ghat is a staircase with which you enter the river, where his father waited for in his boat. This old, waxy man rowed us past all the famous ghats, including the cremation ghats, Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghat. The atmosphere on the water is serene despite the many boats and people, flowers and floating candles emphasize this serenity. On the shore, you can see the people bathe to be ritually cleansed and orange-colored priests fetch water to keep their temples clean. At the cremation ghats, the wood is piled high and walkers come and go to bring wood and bodies. Some 80 people a day are cremated after being washed for the last time in the Ganges. You can imagine that this is impressive to see, but at the same time, you realize what pollution this has to give in the river.
In the morning on the Ganges, you experience a form of rest. When you are back on shore, you will be surprised by the bustle of the city, but during the day. Everyone is trying to get you in his tuk-tuk or rickshaw. It is also a good way to get to know the city because if you start walking it is difficult to orient yourself. But if you want to see a famous temple then you will have to walk there.
Through the narrow streets full of shops, restaurants, people, cows, and motorcycles. The streets are really narrow, often no wider than the wheel of a motorcycle.
We think we have seen the Golden Temple but are not sure. Because you can not visit the temple as a non-Hindu. A confusing experience. We got ten guides on the way to this, all of whom had their own piece of the process. In retrospect, we think we have been lifted. But then, you’re talking about a few bucks.
Other temples are less complicated to visit. But how Hinduism works do not really become clear to us.
Varanasi is certainly worth a visit and I advise you to book your hotel or guesthouse near a ghat, then you will see in an inimitable way how beautiful, friendly and at the same time busy and dirty India can be. A favourite drink in India is Lassi and on my blog you can find a very tasty recipe of it, made with fresh Mango.