Varanasi Heat

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
Trip End Aug 31, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hotel Surya & Hotel Ideal Tower

Flag of India  ,
Thursday, May 8, 2008

After a pleasant overnight train ride from Haridwar we arrived in Varanasi to the blistering 45 degree heat. We made it easy on ourselves by booking at Hotel Surya which provides a complimentary pick-up at the train station. People visit Varanasi for the spiritual Ganges and ghat experience. Our hotel was located about 15 minutes away from older Varanasi which sheltered us from the 'true' experience; however, we did a sunrise boat tour which is the best way to see the Ganges. The water is supposedly the most polluted on earth but that doesn't stop the millions of Hindis that visit in order to bathe in its waters.
Hindi's cremate their dead next to the river and dump the remains into it. There are a number of instances where bodies are not burned and instead sunk to the bottom. These includes pregnant women, children, lepers, sadhus and people with chickenpox. Also, cows, dogs, water buffalo, etc. are sunk in the river. Since what goes down must sometimes come up, on our sunrise excursion we had a few unexpected visitors including a human body and a cow in cloth floating on the surface.
Given the excruciating heat (48C) and dust (and some slight stomach issues..seems like Varanasi is known for that), we hid in our room for most of the time and only got out one other time to visit Sarnath, the famous Buddhist pilgrimage site where Buddha held his first gospel. Pretty nice but weird since there aren't any Indian Buddhists around and all you see are Tibetan and East Asian influences.

Varanasi is a very magical place and we missed out since we didn't really indulge in it given the circumstances...but we want to be back in the cooler season.

We recommend:
- Buying silk in one of the old Indian Family shops
- Open Hand Cafe
- Sunrise Boat Tour
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