Ghats on the Ganges
Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
25Trip End Jul 24, 2010
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As you will know we spent an extra day in Khajuraho due to our two sickies (Timothy and Daniel), which made for some interesting smells in the rooms and we were pretty sure the hotel was happy to see the back of us. Particularly the waiter, who we had to wake up subtley (stomping feets and loud voices seemed to do the trick) every lunchtime as he was always sleeping in one of the table cloths. We couldn't be sure that the same table clothes didn't make it to our table. After the long and arduous 8 hour drive on the shocking roads of Madhya Pradesh (these resembled swiss cheese more than roads) we arrived shattered and battered in Varanasi.
Due to our extensive drive, the first night was a washout and we had planned a 4am start the next morning so it was an early night all round
The following morning proved to be one of our highlights of India despite the ridiculously early start. At 4:30am we left for the main ghats (stairs) that are the real attraction of Varanasi. The ghats border the River Ganges, and at sunrise and sunset local people and pilgrims congregate on the ghats to wash and have ceremonies. We had such an early start to catch the sunrise and the people washing in the river. Arriving bleary eyed, we managed to secure a boatman and guide to take us on the river before the sunrise. As the morning went on it proved to be a breathtaking sight, with scores of people flocking to the river. We had a perfect perspective while floating on the Ganges and enjoying a cup of local chai (sweet tea).
A couple of hours went by far too quickly, and before we knew it our guide took us along some filthy and polluted back alleys of Varanasi. They were littered with dead rats, rotten food, mangy animals and raw sewage and left lasting impression on the nostrils. At one stage a large bull blocked our way, and after much dallying a local man helped us out by grabbing its tail and whipping the animal to get it to move. Nevertheless, we made it to his shop (crafty man, trying to make more money) and were suitably unimpressed by the pompus shopkeeper.
Eventually we made it back to the hotel for a nap, before waking up early afternoon to visit a Buddhist Temple
The evening saw the boys head back to the ghats to catch the sunset on the river and to see the famous ceremonies. It was a surreal experience, which started off with public cremations on the river bank, and finished late in the evening with plenty of chanting and strong incense in front of a massive crowd sitting on the ghats. We somehow managed to get back to the hotel despite the worlds most infuriating rickshaw driver named Anneal. He had the memory of a goldfish and just kept showing us 'many house' where Muslims lived. Frustration reached a climax and we resorted to sarcasm with Tim explaining that his dad built the Taj Mahal. Some people just don't appreciate the fact that you've woken up at 4am! Miraculously we made it back through the unbelievably polluted and congested roads.
We've now arrived in Agra (via a 10 hour journey) to see the Taj Mahal (which Simon Slater didn't build unfortunately) and are looking forward to another early start to see the sunrise there.
Tired, hot, sweaty. Time for bed.
Dan (sickie 1)
Tim (sickie 2)