Varanasi… a truly moving experience …
Its only 8am and we have hardly been riding anytime at all…and we are both sweating…its so dam hot (44 degrees).
With our bike pants and jackets on…yuk…but with the beat up crazy roads and some crazy drivers we knew they were a must especially with the hours and distance we needed to cover, plus it didn’t help that the road from Gorakhpur was horrible, which made the ride quite unbearable at times our poor bike and our poor bums, what a pounding we were all taking….
The scenery was basically the same as the day before lots of busy little towns and dry paddocks…in many ways it was like we had stepped back in time with the carts being pulled by buffalo or donkeys…cheaper to run than cars!
With many stops for drinks to hydrate ourselves, and again being swarmed by the curious locals wondering what sort of ‘space ship’ we have ridden in on!
Later we spot an enormous river….or what will be a enormous river when the monsoon arrives, but it was lacking most of the water…this has to be the Ganges!
Entering the outskirts of the city we were Surprised the roads weren’t all that busy… WOW, that was a long journey…200 K’s took six plus hours!!!
We arrive at the hotel pretty drained, but happy we had made it, after checking in and having a shower we decide to order from the menu in our room…lots to choose from.
We decide on vegetation curry, so I ring and place the order….
what no curry, so I order something else, that wasn’t available either, or my next choice-so what can we have?
Cheese toasted sandwich with chips…thats all…it wasn’t really what we wanted, so we ordered that and a pot of tea for 2…easy?
Our food order arrives…but not the tea…he forgot!
So we tucked into our dried bread, plastic cheese toasties…with a few chips thrown in for good measure…lol
The waiter arrives with our tea for two…
But one was coffee…
WTF… so off the waiter goes again to get more tea…this is exhausting lol- finally we end up with tea! (Needless to say over the next few days we didn’t order food room service…but we did order drinks, thinking that would be easier…Ha… it was the same confusion as before).
The next day we got an auto rickshaw to check out the famous Ganges…OMG…its so hot (not humid), so hot in fact that it was hard to breath, the rickshaw drops us off as far as he is allowed to go and we walked off towards the ‘Steps’ is quite a way, or maybe it just feels like that because its hot….
The streets are packed and I mean packed with people, animals, everyone getting in each others way…and everyone is in a hurry…finally we make it to the ‘steps’ we walk around soaking up all this amazing place has to offer…seeing this place in ‘real life’ has been a dream of ours for a long time and now and here we are…it doesn’t seem real!
Watching the locals washing, doing yoga, swimming and washing the dishes in the Ganges…it’s incredible…the Ganges was much cleaner than we had imagined, surprisingly the litter was minimal.
We had read about a cafe, which was meant to make the best coffee in town so decided to give it a try, so off we went in search of this place asking locals where it was, we walked down tiny cobbled lanes full of tiny shops, trying to dodge the cows and their mess they left behind proved hard at times (i didn’t realise till in India how much cows like eating card broad boxes…lol), we walked for what must have been over an hour trying to find this place, only to find a sign on the door ‘Closed’ apparently they and many other restaurant’s only open in the winter months!
Oh bugger… we’ll get a rickshaw to McDonald’s, we had pasted on the way here earlier… at least we knew that was open for business.
We also managed to get a sim card for the phone as well from a store outside Maccas…then back to the hotel for a few hours.
Later in the afternoon back to the Ganges to watch the ceremony of the Brahams which happens at 7pm everyday of the year…its an elaborate ganga aarti ceremony with puja, fire and dance.
CLICK ON THE ABOVE LINK FOR SHORT VIDIO….
Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/uttar-pradesh/varanasi/sights/river/ghats#ixzz2XrlB0IGDThe ceremony was incredible, a truly mesmerising and moving experience..
The next day we had to get up early as we were going on a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges.
So with our pre arranged auto rickshaw we head towards the Ganges on the potholed dusty roads…
With a price for the boat agreed on we carefully board the boat, not wanting to fall in lol.
The sunrise was spectacular, the edge of the water was full on locals washing, kids jumping off moored up boats, men doing yoga and praying… much better viewing it in ‘life’ to picture in a book or a TV show.
We help notice bodies being burnt and an attendant poking the bodies with sticks to keep it burning…watching this didn’t somehow seem real…
After the boat trip we walked to the ‘burning’ place…we were told by a local 250 bodies can be burnt here a day here!
The stockpile of wood is massive…and for burning that amount of bodies it would have to be…
Dead bodies are handled by outcasts known as doms, they are carried through the alleyways of the old city to the holy Ganges on a bamboo stretcher swathed in cloth. The corpse is then doused in the Ganges before the cremation. Huge piles of firewood are stacked along the top of the ghat, each log carefully weighed on giant scales so that the price of cremation can be calculated. Each type of wood has its own price with sandalwood is the most expensive, the right amount of wood will burn the whole body… you are allowed to watch cremations but you are asked not to take any photos.
the bodies are weighed, then the amount of wood is calculated and weighed exactly to burn the body with no waste wood…
There are mongooses that live around the wood piles in ‘Burning’ Place and they keep the snakes away.
We were told that children, pregnant mothers, Brahmans, animals to not get burnt because they already have pure souls so their bodies are taken to the middle of the Ganges and dropped in with a weight attached to them.
The ceremonial rituals after death are fascinating…
We were even told about how long and the process of burning the body takes…
I have decided to spare you the details!
Feeling tired, we head back to the hotel for some breakfast and a day of leisure, before once again packing up for our trip to Agra.
The Ganges is an amazing place, full of colour, amazing people and buildings…one day we would like to return…but when its cooler, the heat is unbearable, but we are so glad we have been here to see this magical place for ourselves and having our own memories.