Craig’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 10 Mar 2007

Location: Varanasi, India

MapEllo ello!

Well its been another eventful week in India! Iíll start with last weekend and the festival of colours aka Holi. Me and the other volunteers decided to arm ourselves to the teeth so we went into the local town and bought loads of powder which mixes with water to make the paint, water ballons and paint squirters. On Friday evening we all arranged to meet early to prepare our paint and weapons and ambush the locals with our arsenal of ammo! Unfortunately 8am was not soon enough, as soon as we came out for the supplies we were ambushed, with no paint of our own to hit back with. Once we had a chance to regroup and respond with a weak attack Ďthe local peopleí took our paint and used it on us so by noon we were well and truly defeated all completely soaked and multicoloured! It was great fun though and was really nice to be involved with this festival as it gave us a chance to really mingle with the village. I also got lots of the traditional Holi greetings which is basically a bit of a combined hug and bow and this also gives you a chance to get more paint on someone! Iíve got some great pictures too and we also got our picture in the local paper!

The day after all the local villages came to ours to perform the ritual Holi dance performances which were.....well strange to say the least, lets just say it involved blokes dressing up as women and trying to dance provocatively, the effect was lost on me from the huge beards on these guys! Again it was a lot of fun and great to be involved with. Itís a bit backwards in the village though in the respect only men are allowed to dance and attend this festival, all the women and children watch from rooftops far away. India certainly seems like a mans world!

I enjoyed my last few days in the tranquility of the village and on Wednesday we made our way to Agra to finally see the Taj Mahal. I wasnít sure how it would compare to some of the amazing temples Iíve seen so far so tried not to expect too much but I wasnít disappointed, it is a magnificent structure and once in the gardens you can really sense the atmosphere of this place. We went in the early hours to catch sunrise but just missed it because of the queues, we did catch it changing from an orange to a bright white when the sun was up. We hired a guide and he showed us by shining a torch on certain stones in the building that they were completely translucent. The symmetry of the place really stands out, even down to the trees in the gardens. I think itíd be a sin to leave India without seeing it, you can certainly see why it took 20,000 people over 20 years to build it!

Last night I took the overnight train to a place called Varanasi further east of Agra. This is said to be the holiest place in India if not the world and the many ghats on the banks of the river Ganges are used for all kinds of worship and even cremations at some. Iím planning to get a boat ride tomorrow to see them all.

Well thatís me for now, hope your all ok back home and Rovers make it through to the semiís? Iíve loaded some more pics too!

Bye for now!