Varanasi Day 1 Part 2

Continued from Varanasi Day 1 Part 1.

There must have been 15 people in that one row boat!!

Despite seeing the dog and the corpse, we all agreed that this boat ride had been very nice. It was so peaceful on the water, and since we had a row boat, there was no overpowering motor noise to assault our senses. We are out on the water with no touts to disturb us, and no shit to step on. It’s rare to be able to observe India but yet still be left at peace.

The old man tried to turn back to the dock early, but we asked him to row us South of the main ghat so we can get a photo that’s not into the sun.

Not quite South enough, the sun is still into the camera. Oh well.

Back on land and the first thing we see is, Oh Shit! This cow really had a bad case of the Delhi Belly!!

JF, YR, and I decided that we would like to watch ganga aarti, a Hindu religious ceremony at the main ghat. That didn’t start until 7, and it’s only around 5:30. We decided to head back to my guest house just a couple of minutes walk away and have some chai tea on the roof top restaurant to wait it out.

Tea time!

Me, JF, and YR. Eh! Actually, they are from central Canada, and I could barely tell that they were Canadians. They said that the Canadians with the really strong accidents are the ones from the Northeast. Learned something new. Eh! The girls also had spots of colors in their hairs from Holi. I wonder how long, if ever, it’ll take for those colours to wash out.

The opposite shore looks so calm from up here.

Nightfall arrives, and we can see things getting set up at the main ghat. We had ordered a big pot of chai, and it ended up being a pretty good deal. Each cup was about 5INR each. So a dime a cup.

After we finished our tea, we decided to grab a quick bite to eat before we see ganga aarti.

You can see on the river are floating candles that are released as part of ganga aarti.

This is about 30 minutes before 7 and people are already staking out their spots.

Up the stairs we go away from the river and into the city where we’ll try to find food.

Down a street lined with small vegetable shops.

Out on the road now. There is actually some vehicle traffic over here.

Where to eat? Where to eat?

This will work!

I saw that they had a lot of customers, always a good sign.

We sat down, and ordered our food. The girls mentioned how they had eaten a lot of street food, and how this was pretty reasonably priced.

Maybe 5 minutes after we sat down, the entire restaurant clears out…

We can’t smell that bad in a city that just smells bad all the time!

Time to chow! Samosas. When the food came out, I just then realized that I had skipped lunch. Well, I did have two breakfasts, so I guess that’s why I wasn’t hungry until now.

Mixed vegetable curry.

I am going to eat it the best way I know how, like a taco!

After we started eating, the restaurant starts to get packed again. This is the second seating I guess. We also saw a lot of women eating here and out on the streets of Varanasi. This is very unusual. I would say that it was 50/50 inside the restaurant. Are they all here as family for a pilgrimage and that’s why all the females are out?

We paid for our dinner, and the change comes back inside the after dinner mint plate. I love the sanitation practices of this country. Top notch. I am drinking my toilet water after this meal.

The restaurant.

As we were leaving, I noticed that they had a fan that pointed at a vent under the fire. That’s a cool idea to get more oxygen to feed the fire.

We headed back to the main ghat and the festivities had already started.

There were multiple platforms with performers doing their rituals. Then there were these bells that had long strings and guys who would constantly ring the bells. Music and announcements also blasted from speakers.

This attraction in Varanasi is the most commercialized. They had this scrolling banner.

And they also had a LCD TV in the area.

Most of the audience are Indians though. I bet the majority of them are not locals and are here as pilgrims or tourists.

PA system blasting music and announcements. I thought that the PA system took away from ganga aarti experience. Obviously, it’s a tourist trap, but the PA system was unexpected since everything else in Varanasi is so archaic.

To the right of the man with the sweater over his back is one of the bell ringer. He got tired, so he had to use his other hand to support his bell ringing arm. Eventually, later on, he had to pass off the duty to another bell ringer.

Many of the tourists hire a boat at this hour and watch ganga aarti from the river. All the boat operators claimed that this was the best view. We also saw the show from the steps by river side and it looks about the same.

Floating candles out in the distance on the river.

Collection plate. If I just walked around with a collection plate, would random people give me money?

There were many sellers in the area for the floating candles.

The three of us decided to pitch in for one. It was 30 INR. I have no idea what the significance of it is, but everyone else was doing it. I look at these beautiful candles on the river and think how it’s just a bunch of tourists buying it and a bunch of old ladies making money from selling it.

Away you go, little candle of capitalism!

As we watched our candle barely drifting away, all of a sudden, a whole horde of people came down with these cups of colored water and started pouring it into the river. Our candle was capsized by this…Well, that was that.

This is the sign right above one of the ganga aarti ceremony. I have no idea what it means other than that it feels very commercialized. There were two ganga aarti ceremonies going on at the same time next to each other. I wonder if they were competitors?

Finished, time to go home.

Do they save the flower pedals for the ganga aarti tomorrow?

Dog asleep in a pile of ash. Was this a pile of cremation ash?

As we said our goodbye, the Canadians and I made plans to meet up tomorrow to share a ride to Assi ghat, which is at the very South end of the major Varanasi ghats.

To be continued in Varanasi Day 2.

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