Veranasi can be Very Nasty (but generally isn’t)

After an incredibly long journey from Kathmandu (11 hours on the bus and 6 on the train), we got the chance not only to check out another night at our FAVORITE town, Gorakpur (see the post involving lots of puking and rudeness) but also we got to meet about 647 new ‘best friends’ on the train.  A milestone – we started saying we were married and pretending we spoke French.  Kind of got busted reading a poster written in English though, oops!  We had a lot more patience our first two months, but after awhile, answering the same 5 question over and over again, and getting stared at for literally HOURS in a row gets to be a bit much. 

So it was with relief that we checked into our lovely family-owned guesthouse overlooking the sacred Ganga in Varanasi, and we had a chance to unpack and relax.  Our first impressions of Varanasi exceeded our expectations, and while it was dusty, hot and busy, it had an incredibly spiritual and holy presence.


We walked down the ghats, which are stairs leading to the river, we were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things happening – people washing clothes, bathing, burning their loved ones’ bodies, and praying.  The incredible thing is that this happens every single day of the year.  Some of the ghats had a very somber tone, while a few felt like we were at a mini-carnaval.  The interesting thing was that the cremation ghats were not somber at all – they had the busy feel of a marketplace as people bartered for the wood and services of the Untouchable caste members to handle the dead bodies.  If we hadn’t known what was in the wrapped cloths, we would not have immediately known that people were saying final goodbyes to their family members.  It really spoke to the power that people here feel is connected to this section of the river.

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At the end of the day, we watched the beautiful sunset from our rooftop, and were entertained by the little boys playing with their kites.  It reminded us very much of scenes from the book ‘The Kiterunner’ as they fought each other and ran after the fallen kites.  However, we WERE in India and soon enough the romantical mood was broken by a bloated cow carcass floating up in the river and being attacked by a pack of ravenous street dogs.  As they tugged off one of its legs, we knew we were at home.  At the end of our stay in Varanasi, we were in love with the city and were well rested for the next ‘leg’ of our journey.


2 Responses to “Veranasi can be Very Nasty (but generally isn’t)”

  1. Mani Ghedia says:

    Hey guys!

    I just came across your website via facebook and am mega jealous your’re in India! I’ve never been but am eager to go. I was chatting to Rich a while back about doing a trip but looks like you beat us to it. I read some of your blogs and looks like you both are having a fab if not an interesting time.

    If you need a place in Gujurat to stay or relax let me know..I have many family members there who love visitors :-)

    Best of luck with the trip!

    ps…claire…you should buy a sari
    seth…mate you should buy a pair of ‘champlas’ ask the locals ;-)

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