Like I told you in my previous post, I have been in Varanasi for a few days now. This was really an experience I would never have been without. It was so full of new impressions that I will have to divide the story into different posts. As of today, I will try to describe Varanasi as a city, or maybe I should rather say as a place.
I got off the train at around 4.30 in the morning. This means that it was almost dark outside the station. I had just waked up, and was probably not really awake when one person approached me and asked me if I wanted a taxi. I tried to avoid him, but ended up with him driving me in an auto to the hotel. Or rather, he drove me nearly to the hotel. In the old part of Varanasi, all streets, if we can call them streets, are so narrow that it is not possible to go there even by an auto. And when I say not possible, I mean not possible, even according to Indian standard. Even the two wheelers struggled to get around here. One reason for this is that on every corner you could bump into a bunch of cows or buffalos.
So to see these narrow streets was surely one interesting experience in Varanasi. I had kind of expected a huge area, with a lot of ghats (stairs to the river) but not all these narrow streets. With small shops and houses everywhere in these streets, it was really different scenery than Mumbai. It seems like things might have changed for the last hundred or maybe even thousands of years. Most of the buildings were quite high, so it was limited daylight in these streets. That made them in some way looks even nicer and more peaceful.
The most important part of Varanasi is off course the holy river of Ganges. Unfortunately the water level was so high that it was not possible to take a boat on the river, and also most of the ghats were actually below the water. But everywhere you could see at least the streets that lead down to the ghats and in that way understand how it all looked like. And for sure, there were people taking their bath in the holy river also. My hotel was located exactly at the riverside, so it was very easy to get a view of the city from there. I will write another blog post about the river and the prayers that took place at the ghats themselves later on.
When I was roaming around I suddenly almost crashed into a place where there were piles of wood. At first I didn’t really thought about what this was all about. It was maybe just a place where the city stored wood I thought, and turned to the river again. There I could see people who sat on the stairs and just looked straight ahead of them into the river. I could also see a bier, and suddenly I realized what the wood was for. I did look around, and there, just behind me it was some fires. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to see what was there, so I kind of moved away. On the way back, I kind of ran into a person who told me that his family have been working with cremation for generations. His story will surely follow in a later post.
On the way back to the hotel, I ran into the guy in the picture below.
So yes, Varanasi is surely a very special place. I do absolutely think that some of the stories deserves to be outlined in more detail and will surely do that in posts coming up in the next few days.
Talk to you soon!