Varanasi: the first destination for our five day venture up north. Situated right on the Ganges river and most known for being the hub of Hinduism.
After being picked up from the airport we were transported to this lovely alley where we maneuvered our way through the trash and ashes to our hotel on the river.
Con of the day- missing Holi (color festival celebrated by Hindus). Huge bummer. But, in good news, we did enjoy seeing the aftermath of it all.
Holi powder in every direction.
These kind men gave us a token smudge of Holi on our foreheads while we were out exploring the neighborhood that evening.
At the airport, in the shops, and on the streets- every good Indian exhibited a pinch of Holi in some way or another.
"Would you mind if I took your photo sir?" (grunt) "Very well then."
Enjoying the street vendor food. Nothing like a dose of deep fried deliciousness.
Varanasi is without question the dirtiest place I have experienced for the duration of my life.
Several of the Hindu pilgrims that had traveled to Varanasi cut their locks as symbol of gratitude.
Varanasi had such a tangible yet unique feel about it. It was eerie, intriguing, and bold. A friend from Rising Star told me that everyone leaves Varanasi feeling something about it. Truth to a T.
The scene at the Ganges was extremely interesting. Ghat after ghat after ghat. Ghat: "A broad flight of steps leading down to the bank of a river . . . used especially by bathers." 24 hours on a daily basis bathers enter the water via bathing ghats and bodies are cremated alongside the burning ghats. After the cremation is completed and the ashes are cooled, family members take the remnants and pour them into the Ganges. If, for a number of reasons, the person does not qualify for a cremation, their body is dumped directly into the Ganges. Seeing eight cremations at once- not exactly in conjunction with the activities that took place in Davis County while growing up. Eye-opening indeed.
Watching some of the ritualistic Hindu practices. A very noisy and chaotic experience.
Day two. We began our morning amidst the Ganga (Ganges) at 6:15.
A group of men taking advantage of the "sanitation and cleansing" offered by the Ganges.
The women, washing and bathing as well. Indian gender motto = segregation in all things.
Kelli and I, getting prepped for a holy dip of our own.
Our trusty captain, easing us though the Ganga, one paddle at a time.
Mind you, it was brisk and chilly on the morning of our holy dip. I was a tad bit hesitant to complete the cleanse but we all persevered and prepared to go under.
"Five dips- good. Seven dips- good. Nine dips- good. 101 dips- best!" Great advice from our guide. We stuck with option A. Imagine that.
One, two, dowwwwn we go.
These photos- the epitome of grace.
*MY FAVORITE PHOTO OF THE ENTIRE TRIP* Please take a brief moment and appreciate.
Five dips completed. Hip. Hip. Hooray. And now cleansed of all bad karma.
It's a funny thing, being concerned about the man outside your window, when in fact it's a monkey.
Later that day, visited Saranath- the location where Bhudda gave his first sermon.
Enjoyed a variety of deliiiiiicious northern Indian cuisine all week long.
I can now officially say that I am converted.
Said our goodbyes to Varanasi and boarded our ever so sketchy night train to Agra. One of the most unsanitary yet hysterical experiences of the trip.