Come on baby light my fire
Trip Start Sep 19, 2002
129Trip End Sep 22, 2003
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Where I stayed
Varanasi is one of the holiest places in India. It is set on the banks of the river Ganges and people come to bathe in the holy waters. They also come here to die as this is a very sacred place to be cremated and have your ashes sprinkled in the Ganges.
As we only had a couple of days in Varanasi we had a quick shower and headed out again
As well as burning people Varanasi is also famous for it's silk weaving and somehow our driver managed to con us into a silk shop. It was interesting to see the child labour doing the weaving but we really didn't want to be in the shop. The owner was very friendly (well he would be wouldn't he) and kept getting out more and more silks for us to see. LJ then said to me that she felt faint and needed to get back to the hotel. We made our excuses to the owner and he feigned concern. Once outside it turns out she was ok and had faked it to get out - how devious can you get?! Worn out we returned to the hotel and booked a more organised tour for the next morning.
6th - Up at 4.30am (yes AM!) to join our tour with four other English people and our guide Tripati. The reason for this early start was to do a boat trip on the Ganges at sunrise. We boarded our rowing boat at one of the ghats and our 2 oarsmen rowed us up and down the Ganges pointing out the various ghats and other sites. The sunrise was stunning especially against the backdrop of the Ganges. We were amazed at the number of people bathing in the river all along the riverbank. It was even more amazing to see people brushing their teeth and drinking the highly toxic water. Apparently, people who bathe in the river regularly live 10 years less than people who don't which makes you wonder why they think this is such a good idea. You have to realise that many of the sewers run straight into the river and the ashes of hundreds of people are also poured in each day. Apparently some people can't afford the cremation fees and are just dumped straight in the river. Our guidebook had warned that you might see the odd corpse floating by but luckily we missed this. After messing about on the river we were then taken to visit a couple of temples (which I can't remember the name of). The first was in the grounds of the university which is apparently the 3rd largest in the world. The second was really busy with a room packed with men frantically chanting away - and all this before I had even thought of breakfast! On the way back Tripati made a big play about the fact he was taking us to a government approved silk shop not one of the rip-off merchants that the rickshaw drivers take you too. Of the hundreds of shops in Varanasi guess what, we ended back at the shop we had escaped from the previous day. The owner was very pleased to see us and said he had prayed for LJ but we still didn't buy anything.
That evening we boarded another sleepless sleeper train bound for Delhi.