I have always read about Varanasi – so was absolutely thrilled to get on our way. 3 hour road trip was a good mix of admiring Indian rural areas and calming one down about the horrific traffic decisions people make – so bit of a up and down. My 2 teammates were kind enough to spare me sitting in the front seat. If your lane is narrowed down because of construction, do you usually just move to the other lane (despite the divider) and create a total traffic cluster? No, yes? Go with the flow, in this case no flow at all.
The city: absolutely stunning riverbank, culturally so incredibly rich – can’t do it justice here. The oldest living city in the world. There is just nothing like this I have seen.
The people: Clearly all in awe with the river and what it means to them. The ghats (staircases to the river) are everywhere. Young, old, poor, rich, they all have a glow and face that says it all.
The cremation ghats: out of this world for Europeans and US folks. Burning the bodies on the ghats is incredibly special for any Hindu. The family brings the body in the ghat and the cremation takes place right there – body is put on the fire (with 400 kg of wood for 4 hours) and then the ashes are thrown into the river. However, in some circumstances, it is actually the body that gets weighted and thrown in the river itself (children, pregnant women, if you died of snake bite (b/c you could wake up so if you float, you are safe). Let me tell you, watching it is a bit surreal and very very humbling. I didn’t really know where to look and what to do – just makes you very quiet. Goes on 24/7 and thanks to my camera lense I was able to capture it from the distance (pictures allowed from far).
To end on a softer note – the glow in my title is also for the incredible mess of stickiness you turn into in Varanasi – 40C temperatures, high humidity, DEET insect repellent a bit of deodorant, oils for the smell, hand sanitizer for the hands – yep, you definitely glow!