Tea on the Ganges:
How can you come to the mother of rivers and not get a bit wet?
Rowing down the Ganges at sunrise
(all pics @Topher_Vollan)
Even after Ricky (my guide for two days in Varanasi) had told me about the thousands of years of cremation at the Ghats (sever hundred a day at each Ghat) and river burial (for those who can’t be cremated, they get wrapped up with a rock and taken out to the middle) and about the chest bone (men) and hip bone (women) that never fully burns and gets tossed in the river, and the sewage, and the magical mud, and the major floods and that he himself, having grown up here, would never go in the Ganges again, but also that Varanasi and its connection to the Indian people predates recorded history (settlements found <1800BCE) – after all that, how could I not get at least a little bit wet? (but ya, only a wee bit and I will take home a bit of the Ganges in my socks…lol)
it doesn’t smell bad (oils and flowers used as pre-cremation treatment)
it is smokey
sunrise and sundown – a lot goes on. People swimming or dousing themselves in the water, Brahma monk ceremonies, and boats going….everywhere
the water is pretty warm
flood heights go up well into the buildings along the edge of the river
Bhudda was here! Also got to see Sarnath, the site of Buddha’s first sermon, “The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma” and get a good (hour or so) chat on the history and travels of Buddha.
Toured one of India’s largest universities then..
spent some time being shown the art of silk weaving. The owner’s grandfather had over two hundred silk loom artists, today his family can find only 26.
Silk Loom – sheet paper instructions
Also got to see the National Museum at Sarnath – where the National Emblem of India, the four headed Lion Capital of Ashoka ( on the currency) and the Wheel (the Ashoka Chakra on the flag). The Edicts of Ashoka, 33 inscriptions on massive pillars put up all around the empire starting in 269BC and are considered the first evidence of Buddhism.
Politics (this came out of a discussion that Mogul/Muslim invaders knocked down many of the temples and the Ashoka column here in Sarnath) led to a recurring discussion on current India. Every Indian I’ve spoken to about politics give the current Prime Minister Modi extremely high marks, then they mention how lucky we are to have Justin (they “may” mean Bieber, as he is extremely popular here)
silk weaving – the bolts
Ricky took me for an amazing lunch (every single meal has been great, except maybe the weird pickle sandwich thing on the plane from Agra to Vasranasi), then a walk back to the hotel.
Sunset yesterday was in a row boat on the river, today, sunrise (also from a boat, full day touring Varanasi then then masala tea on patio looking out over the city and river as the sun burned down.
Ricky – he’s moving to Europe at some point with his German girlfriend. Tomorrow however , a sunrise (of path…?) tour of Ricky’s favourite areas of Varanasi.
Silk Weaving in Varanasi