Varanasi, India, January 19, 2023
I had a great day and I am so happy to finally say that! I was getting worried!
Believe it or not I had a very good sleep in silence until about 7:30. I rarely sleep that late! Then I listened to a man retch his guts out- he must have been in the street below the open stairwell windows. It was so disgusting but I felt very sorry for him being so sick.
I had a slow start and enjoyed breakfast on the rooftop “terrace” which has a great view of the Ganga-
The view from the back of the guesthouse isn’t so great-
I walked along the river up and down the steps of the ghats. Ghat means stairways and during the rainy season in July, the water is up to the buildings. There are always religious ceremonies happening-
Bathing in the Ganga-
Interesting people along the way-
Ash is a Hindu who has always put his needs before others. He covers his body in the cremation ashes and is naked-
I walked to one of two cremation spots. The men of the family carry the shrouded corpse down to the river where it’s submerged. Then it’s placed in a grate on wood and then covered with more wood. It takes 2-3 hours to burn. No women are present because they are too emotional and crying at a cremation is bad luck. Children under 12 and pregnant women are not burned but taken out into the river and dumped because they are innocent-
Bodies are burned with sandalwood if the family can afford it-
The ashes will eventually be moved into the river-
I walked back the way I’d came and it was busier-
Then I got on a boat next to people submerging themselves-
We crossed the river. The view is great-
The other side is a sand beach with little shops-
Five of us didn’t get off. I thought we were cruising down the river to look at the ghats and then magically, for extra money, away we went-
Back on the sand side we had to wait-
because there were boat races on-
People buy little tin foiled dishes filled with marigolds-
add turmeric mixed with lime, some seeds and sugar-
set it in the river and light it on fire as an offering-
On the way back-
After, I had a couple lassis- they are so good, then went to the Annapurna Temple which was built in the 18th century. Annapurna is the Hindu goddess for nourishment
Hindus have millions of gods and goddesses. There are separate altars for each one. You can leave money or other offerings to the god from whom you need help and also ring a bell.
It was packed and people were pushing and shoving like lunatics!
From here I walked back to the river and in the other direction from this morning to the principal burning ghat-
From here I headed home to get my bus ticket booked. I couldn’t pay for it with my international credit card for whatever reason -TII ( This Is India) so the manager of the hotel paid for me and I gave him cash. Thank goodness it worked. It’s an overnight bus with a bed so it will be interesting.
Later I went for a walk to the market and it was pleasant - really! There are a lot of paintings on the walls in the narrow pedestrian only alleys-
Going this way is much easier than going up and down ghat steps!
Dashashvamedh Ghat was created by Lord Brahma to welcome Lord Shiva
Masala tea made from black tea, milk, pepper corns, ginger and caraway-
This man poured milk out of an old fashioned cream can and was scalding it-
Samosas and other deep fried finger foods which I’m trying to avoid-
I finally picked an “egg roll”. It was like a thin chapati-
with two eggs cooked on top, then vegetables added and egg roll sauce. It was the most delicious egg roll I’ve ever had because it wasn’t deep fried and it was mostly filling. It cost $0.66. I met a Polish couple who live in Hanoi-ing, I mean Hanoi and they said India is even cheaper than Vietnam. I was a bit surprised.
Gods are everywhere-
On the way home I watched a shortened version of the Aarti-
So tomorrow I’ll laze around and at 4 the assistant manager will come with me to explain to a tuktuk driver where to take me to the bus and I’ll be on my way to Agra!
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