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Varanasi: Jan. 30 - Part 1

Location: Varanasi, India


A girl sits on the front of a boat trying to sell little holders of candles and marigolds which are placed as offerings on the river.

At dawn we again went on a boat to watch the events on the ghats, watching the city come alive.

Out on the river, a tour group looks on as we do, at the early morning activities of Ganges River ghats.

Two of these offerings float past a derelict of a river boat and shore garbage at the edge of the ghats.

Bathing is not just about trying to get a clean body, it is a religious ritual as well. The silver chalice being held will serve as cup as both the man and the woman drink the holy river water.

Since it is early morning, there are fewer people. The only people present are those to bathe in the holy waters, those who are praying and people such as ourselves who were there to witness dawn on the Ganges River.

The main burning ghat of Benares (Varanasi). In the background are huge piles of wood which are sold by the Dom (untouchables). Smoke was rising from the ashes of yesterday's cremations.

On the northern edges of the ghats near another crematorium we saw two temples which have suffered flooding damage from monsoon rains which yearly raise the level of the river.

Garbage, filth, more garbage, odours, dirt, cow shit, urine, and people without smiles - this is what we saw each time we wandered the lanes around the ghats.

In the lanes behind the burning ghat, business is good as it is the desire of all Hindus to be taken to Varanasi for cremation. Many old and sick move to the city so that they can die there. With their body immersed in the river and then cremated, they hope to end the cycle of death and rebirth, to enter the state called Nirvana.

With the morning sun now up, the river looks magical even with the garbage that lies at the edge of this holy river.

The holy cows of Hinduism feed on the refuse of the city. This is as clean as it gets in the old city area.



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At dawn we again went on a boat to watch the events on the ghats, watching the city come alive.

Close Window

A girl sits on the front of a boat trying to sell little holders of candles and marigolds which are placed as offerings on the river.

Close Window

Two of these offerings float past a derelict of a river boat and shore garbage at the edge of the ghats.

Close Window

Out on the river, a tour group looks on as we do, at the early morning activities of Ganges River ghats.

Close Window

Since it is early morning, there are fewer people. The only people present are those to bathe in the holy waters, those who are praying and people such as ourselves who were there to witness dawn on the Ganges River.

Close Window

Bathing is not just about trying to get a clean body, it is a religious ritual as well. The silver chalice being held will serve as cup as both the man and the woman drink the holy river water.

Close Window

On the northern edges of the ghats near another crematorium we saw two temples which have suffered flooding damage from monsoon rains which yearly raise the level of the river.

Close Window

The main burning ghat of Benares (Varanasi). In the background are huge piles of wood which are sold by the Dom (untouchables). Smoke was rising from the ashes of yesterday's cremations.

Close Window

In the lanes behind the burning ghat, business is good as it is the desire of all Hindus to be taken to Varanasi for cremation. Many old and sick move to the city so that they can die there. With their body immersed in the river and then cremated, they hope to end the cycle of death and rebirth, to enter the state called Nirvana.

Close Window

Garbage, filth, more garbage, odours, dirt, cow shit, urine, and people without smiles - this is what we saw each time we wandered the lanes around the ghats.

Close Window

The holy cows of Hinduism feed on the refuse of the city. This is as clean as it gets in the old city area.

Close Window

With the morning sun now up, the river looks magical even with the garbage that lies at the edge of this holy river.