Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Varanasi, India, January 18, 2023

I left my best room ever- it was warm, super quiet and the linen was beautiful, at the last minute.  What an interesting lamp I had-

Right out the door of the hostel was breakfast- some kind of crepe with dahl and vegetables with a dipping sauce for $.50-

I ended up taking a tuktuk almost to my hotel but they’re prohibited from getting too close to the river so I had to walk a bit anyway.  I got settled then tried to book my bus to Agra.  The site wouldn’t accept my credit card so tomorrow someone from the hotel will pay and I’ll reimburse them.  What a hassle! 

Looking at the Ganges from the steps of my hotel-

For lupper I found lunch in a restaurant for tourists.  I’m getting tired of Indian food and I’ve only been here 5 days!  I’m in big trouble!  I had a sweet lassi which was excellent, garlic na’an, vegetable raita which is a salad of tomatoes, cucumber and radish in a yogurt sauce-

It was very good too.  I ordered too much food but you never know what the portions will be like.  I also had malai kofta which is cottage cheese balls fried and in a sauce made of blended nuts and vegetables as well as spices. 

I went to Kashi Vishwanath Temple-

and of course it was difficult. I followed my maps app but was turned away by the police and told to go left. Soon a man was there who “helped” me and in all honesty he really did. We ended up going right and to the ticket office but I wouldn’t go there with him because I thought he was lying. I asked the police and they said no that was correct so we went.  It costs $10 for foreigners and it’s free for Indians.  We had to show our passport and visa and we could not take in any electronics at all which was a bit annoying.  

There is one tonne of gold on the temple dome-

and last February some anonymous donor gave 60kg to plate the inside which has a square pond filled with milk and flowers and they all touched the stone in the centre-

The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is one of the top 12 gods. Hindus have millions of gods.  We were in and out in no time.  There’s no waiting when you’re a tourist! 

I found my beer store!  And saw a couple just married-

This is what it’s like in the streets-

And the noise!  It’s unbelievable and for them, they just ignore it and carry on in their own rude world, not caring who they bump into.

Shops include things to leave at the temples-

Sugar, nuts, string to make a bracelet and dye for forehead painting in a slick little pack-

One of a million silk shops-

A recorder seller and a bell seller-

Marigolds are the flower of choice to offer because they’re very easy to grow-

Buy a jug and take home a bit of the Ganges for healing purposes-

Every evening at sunset which was 6:10 tonight, it’s the Ganga Aarti which is a ritual of offering prayer to the Ganges River.  It’s one of the most popular and important ceremonies of Hindu faith.  It’s a loud, prayerful ceremony greeting and thanking all of the Dieties for their glorious presence and gifts.  

There were a lot of people there-

and they remove their shoes before sitting on the platforms-

They start with music that repeats itself over and over then there are 7 priests who perform at their own station-

Bells ring and a drummer drums the whole time-

The priest starts with a small amount of incense.  He waves it around in a certain pattern  and then changes his position to do the same thing 4 times facing east, west, north and south-

Then comes lots of incense.  No wonder this country is covered in smog-

They do the same movements in all four directions.  Next came Christmas tree shaped objects on fire-

 Repeat 4 directions with movements-

Then it was just a torch of fire-

Throwing marigold petals-

A peacock fan-

A white hairy thing-

and that was it.  I hope all the tuktuk drivers and shop keepers attended so they won’t  be such jerks tomorrow.  Not likely.

Tomorrow I’ll do some more exploring and as usual I’m hoping for a good sleep.  So far my room is extremely noisy so I’m doubtful!

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