Morning on the River Ganges

Trip Start Nov 06, 2010
Trip End Mar 18, 2011

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Where I stayed
Aashray Home Stay

Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Friday, November 19, 2010

Our accommodations for the city was a “local home stay” at the Aashray.  This allows you to stay with an Indian family and see how they go about their daily routine. We were very lucky to stay at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Kapur, both have lived in the city for many years and have a great depth of knowledge of its history & culture. She is a fanatic cook (we only eat vegetarian for the four days) and he is a great tour guide.  We found it very interesting to talk to both of them about their world view and the future of India.  The next couple of entries on the Travelpod could not have been made without their help.

Our first day we got up a 5:00 am and leaving before sunrise we made our way with Mr. Kapur down to the river Ganges. Our goal was to see the pilgrims doing their devotions in the river at sunrise, set against the back drop of the centuries old temples. The video shows you what we saw on our boat ride, starting in the dark and moving though day break. It was one of the most impressive sights we have see on our Odyssey travels.

Now some history to put the video into prospective before you watch it.

According to legend, the city was founded by the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva, around 5,000 years ago, thus making it one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the country. It is regarded as the holiest place in the world by Hindus. More than 1,000,000 pilgrims visit the city each year.   Fantastically photogenic, Varanasi is at its brilliant best by the ghats (a series of steps leading down to the river, used by bathers and pilgrims) on the western bank.
Hindus consider it auspicious to die in Varanasi, so some ghats are known as burning ghats, where bodies are cremated (see the fire in the video) in public before their ashes are placed in the Ganges. The dead bodies are handled by outcasts known as “doms”, and are carried through the alleyways of the old city to the holy Ganges on a bamboo stretcher swathed in cloth. The corpse is doused in the Ganges prior to cremation. Huge piles of firewood  are stacked along the top of the ghat; every log is carefully weighted on giant scales so that the price of the cremation can be calculated.

Most of the ghats are for bathing, Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges remits their sins. Over 60,000 people come down to the waters edge every day to take a dip in the sacred waters.

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Tom/Donna Mazzola on

Just now got around to viewing this post. It's very interesting. Odd how differently we view the same thing. They believe it's a holy site. We think it's pretty unsanitary to say the least. It had to be very insiteful to stay with an Indian family and hear their views on politics, et al.


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