Saturday, March 23, 2013

India: First Stop, Varanasi

We came in to Varanasi on a overnight train from Kolkata (where we had flown in the day before). Almost as soon as our feet touched the ground, a tuk tuk driver was chatting to us. He showed us where to buy tickets for our trip out of town and then 30 minutes later we saw him again, chatting up some other people trying to get them to take his tuk tuk over the many other ones available. "Do you remember me??" he said almost desperate for us to say yes. We did and he took us to Varanasi's old town.

alleyway in Varanasi
The old town of Varanasi is comprised of tiny, crooked alleyways lined with shops, restaurants, and colorfully painted weather beaten doors.The ground is lined with trash, dust, cow dung, water, and more trash. I wished I had about forty more eyes so I could see everything going on around me and still be able to watch my step. 

It's true what they say, cows really can go wherever they want, which also means they can sh*t wherever they want. It's was a challenge just to walk down the streets navigating around the people, cows, dogs, bikes, and motorbikes (which honk their startling horns right behind you to make you move quicker) all while making sure you aren't stepping in poo. 

sunrise over the Ganges River in Varanasi
Even with the mess and the smell and the crowds, it was magical. The people are so kind and a smile will always get you a smile in return. The devotion to the filthy Ganges is unfaltering. The colors are phenomenal and completely everywhere. Every woman is wearing at least four colors at one time and usually in bright patterns. The boats are colorfully painted. The temples are racked with so much detail and color it's overwhelming. It was intense and we loved it.

naked priest man sitting next to the Ganges River in Varanasi

boat ride in Varanasi


morning baths in the Ganges River in Varanasi

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