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Rowing Down The Ganges » »

 

I’m now in Varanasi and I can’t describe how chaotic this place is next to such beauty of the Ganges river. But before you read this entry, I should preface it with a scene from a movie that inspired me to travel to Varanasi in the first place. Watch this first, and the following pictures below will resonate with you more.

 

 

Shoot me again if i say this one more time…nothing on this journey or my previous trips — not even my last month-long trip to India — has prepared me for Varanasi. Sorry Vietnam, sorry Cambodia, sorry Indonesia, you were all fantastic but how can I compare the images I tried to take in your countries with the one day of pictures I’ve gotten simply by walking along one river?

Where in previous cities I had to seek beauty, or be aware for it, here beauty seeks you. No wonder this is the holy capital of Hinduism; the fervor of the people here permeates…beyond all the incessant touts, you can find peace in a city named Varanasi.

 

Every night beginning at 7pm there’s an aarti fire & dance ceremony that takes place at Dasaswamedh Ghat. This is a must for anyone visiting Varanasi.

When I came upon Dasaswamedh Ghat and heard the music, all my senses came alive. The air felt electric. Whether it was because I had just recently woken from a nap or I was severely dehydrated, I became dizzy with emotion. Some of you may accuse this nightly ritual being designed partly as a tourist trap but I couldn’t help it: I had lost myself in dazzling color.

I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same way again.

The next morning I was reading online how safe bathing water is supposed to have less than 500 faecal coliform bacteria per litre (yeah I occupy myself with great reading material). But there’s a point to looking that up: The Ganges river by Varanasi is measured to have over 1.5 million faecal coliform bacteria per litre of water:

I guess the picture above gives credence to the power of a *conditioned* human immune system.

Bodies being washed in the Ganges prior to cremation. Look closely enough, one of the bodies is covered by an orange shawl:

- At time of posting in Varanasi, India, it was 89.6 °F - Humidity: 75% | Wind Speed: 6km/hr | Cloud Cover: few clouds