A Varanasi has been the icing on the cake of our trip through India. Sacred city, chaotic, religious, backpacking, fun, different … we have enjoyed Varanasi at every moment, as we have done with the rest of India. If you want to know what to see and do in Varanasi read on…
The name was given to be the area between the Varuna and Assi rivers. Always with the Ganges as the protagonist, on its shore with this city there are lots of more or less important Ghats, but all with a unique charm, of this place.
The Ghats are the stairs that go down to the sacred river Ganges by which the Hindus go down to make their bids and their morning ablutions. Varanasi is the most sacred city in all of India, the Hindus believe that if they die and are cremated here and their ashes are scattered on the Ganges they will end the cycle of reincarnations and reach inner peace. Some of them and their families of course, travel thousands of kilometers to get here in their last stage in this earthly life. Not surprisingly, the two crematorium Ghats do not stop their activity for a moment.
Even these Ghats are brought dead wrapped in sheets transported on altars by their relatives. The wood pile is already being prepared, so once they arrive at this point, the deceased will take less time to burn once they deposit it. Previously the relatives have negotiated the type and kilos of wood that will be necessary for complete cremation, adjusting it to the maximum. When the body of his loved one begins to burn they contemplate him sitting on the steps of the ghat, sad for the loss of an important person, but happy because they know that burning in this place is the deceased’s last wish, which will come to life eternal as soon as the ceremony ends and its ashes are thrown into the Ganges.
You can see these ceremonies, as long as you are respectful and do not take photos. Although sometimes it is quite strong and it is better to continue the walk through the other Ghats.
You can see the great palaces on the bank of the Ganges, built by important princes and come at least by the passage of time. Or graffiti on its walls, we love street art! On the walk you will meet a few Sadhus who will ask you for a tip for a photo, and others who ignore the tourists sitting sharing their psychotropic cigars.
At certain times the buffalo herds go down to take a good dip, and they are not the only ones, as the Ganges is shared by both animals and people! The truth is that it is very difficult to get bored here, so it is best to take a shawl, sit on a step and enjoy Indian life. It is the perfect place to take our last chai.
Although if we have enjoyed something getting into the body is the apple pie of the Vaatika Coffee in the Assi Ghat, my mother that rich! Look, one of the things we have to thank the Lonely Planet.
But not in Varanasi there is not only life on the banks of the Ganges, behind there is a tangle of alleys where getting lost is a matter of seconds! And what’s wrong with getting lost? If in the end you know that you are going to find some known place to return home, and everything you see during this time are sometimes somewhat surreal wonders.
At night in the Ghats of Dashashwamedh and Assi there are ceremonies with fire. You can participate in them and end up throwing flower petals or other offerings to the waters of the Ganges.
However, there is something we can never forget: the boat ride on the Ganges at dawn. Contemplate how local life begins, women washing clothes, men doing their ablutions, cremation Ghats with their eternal smoke … and an image that will be stuck in our retinas…
One day we visited the fort on the other side of the river, crossing a somewhat rustic bridge that endured everything that will be thrown out. The truth is that it was a crap, they asked for a lot of money for the entrance and we turned around to see that it was impossible to negotiate with the police.
Our stay in Varanasi is completed with a visit to the friends of “Seed for Change”, you can read the article here. We spent the last hours to buy the postcards for those who helped us in the project and to say goodbye to all the beautiful things that India has given us.
We also say goodbye to each other, because now Lety takes a train to Calcutta and Robber another to Delhi … our roads separate for a few weeks, but we will meet again … And if we will miss something will be our dear Gulab Jamuns!
How to get there: We did it on a night train from Khajuraho station, 8 km from the town. We paid 70 INR for tuctuc and train were INR 235 per person in sleeper that lasted about 8 hours.
From Varanasi station to Assi ghat the tuctuc is paid at 50 INR. There is enough traffic and it takes time to arrive.
Where to sleep: We spend the night in two different places: one more flirtatious and one more backpacking. If you are looking for cheap accommodation in Assi ghat there are quite a few, and if you take a walk around the Ghats you can find something. There is a lot of offer
Excursions: We took a boat to return from beyond the Dashashwamedh ghat to Assi in the afternoon and we paid it at 150 INR, they will ask about 400. It is 1 hour.
We paid the boat in the morning at 300 INR; we were like an hour and a half. We went from Assi ghat to the last and returned to Dashashwamedh.