Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Currently in Varanasi, the city of learning and burning, as my hotel manager called it.
Took a pre-dawn boat ride down to the burning ghats. The river was full of tourists and the shores full of Indians. The change of light was rapid and by the time we got to the burning ghat, darkness had evaporated.
Indians flock to Varanasi, some to die and others to bathe. Hindus believe that to die in Varanasi will release them from the 'endless' cycle of reincarcation. Judging by the number of funeral pyres at the burning ghats, many Hindus have achieved this.
Whilst the Ganges, or the Ganga as it's called locally, looks filthy and unappetitising, it is a site of pilgrimage for many Hindus. In family groups , same age groups or just on their own, there are hundreds of Hindus bathing in the holy water.
The streets behind the ghats are narrow and busy. Silk sellers sham, cows wander and chew, shop keepers smile and sit cross legged and there are little gems like the German Bakery where you can relax and eat with friends.