Friday, 5 April 2013

Varanasi: GUEST POST BY LAUREN CLEREY

We arrived in Varanasi somewhat disheveled after our overnight ten hour taxi ride from Agra - flashpacker my arse! Nevertheless, Imy still had enough comic energy on arrival to "tickle" the taxi driver as he unloaded our bags...he loved it! 

Tickle tickle

We saddled up our backpacks and began our trek to the hostel through the heart of the city, but what unveiled itself was an instantly confronting urban experience that none of us were prepared for... a maze of narrow laneways, which encompassed trading, people, rubbish, motorbikes, cows, dogs, monkeys, their excrement and all within a metre or so wide space. The girls especially noted the 'unique' stench which is only possible from the combination of all those things!

We ate in the Monalisa..what were we thinking?


Poo-wee


Having dumped our things at the hostel, we walked down to the Ganges river to explore. Being the holiest place in India, Varanasi was quite confronting, and the religious gatherings on the river of men, who were sometimes dressed in nothing but paint, reminded me of something out of Indiana Jones! However, the architecture, the colour, the noise, the children playing in the water, the boats and the vastness of the river itself were all a pleasure to behold. 

First view of the Ganges

One of the Ghats that line the Ganges

Bathing in the holiest water around

As I have learnt quickly here, card playing and time out from India are sometimes a must and the guys quickly introduced me to their favourite game "Yanif", and their other forms of 'entertainment'...

The KImy show

We returned to the river in the evening to witness the burning of the bodies and the religious ceremonies that accompanied this. We bought some candles from the children on the riverbank and hired a boat which took us down stream. We lit our candles and set them on the river for good karma, before we reached the bodies being burned. It was sad, yet mesmerising, and I have a vivid memory of the noise and singing coming from the people on the riverbank. 



Flowers

Lighting candles on the Ganges
Burning Ghats

Ganga Pooja ceremony


The following day the three of us got up early, well at 7.30, to go and do a yoga class with a local master... this little guy made it look so easy, and made us realise how inflexible and unfocused on our bodies we were. He was also really entertaining and felt the need to explain his crazy sunnies - he had been bitten in the eye by a mozzie whilst on his moped! It was a great experience which we all really enjoyed... authentic India.

And stretch


We didn't realise how mini he was!

Sleeper train


Lunch and a few card games later, we were preparing to leave Varanasi on an overnight train, with a sense of sadness and relief! Next stop, rape capital of the world - Delhi.

Loz x



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