Returning to the Motherland

Trip Start Feb 03, 2008
Trip End Aug 03, 2008

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

I: Indeed it was nice to come back to India - even if it took us 24h to get from Kathmandu to Varanasi. Fortunately we'd made an agreement to meet the Belgians whom we traveled with before - so they had a room booked for us when we arrived in Varanasi ;)
And the four of us were happily reunited.

Varanasi is, according to the Indians, the oldest and the most holiest city in the world. Well, at least it's true for hindis. And of course the holiest river, the Gangha, runs through the town. The river bank is divided into different ghats (banks), and the area around the ghats is very charming to explore. It consists of narrow alleys and a bit wider streets that are filled with pilgrimers dressed in orange, and let's not forget the holy cows! Our guest house was at the end of one of a small alley, so we automatically spent a lot of time walking around, and getting lost, around the river. Unfortunately the river was flooded, so we couldn't walk on the river bank itself, and also the very popular boat rides on the river were forbidden.

There are a lot of things happening all the time around the Gangha, but the most impressive thing we saw was the open air cremations that take place on the river bank. The hindis believe that if you're cremated on this special place, your soul will directly reach nirvana -and it was pointed out for us that the burial is not only for hindis, but for all religions ;)
There were also ritual dippings into the river all day long. For the upper cast a special ceremony is arranged, but the others do it themselves.
We saw so many things in Varanasi that i have no energy to mention all of them. But definitely when i visit India next time, i'm going back.
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