Varanasi is a place not meant to be forgotten after you visit. It is considered one of the holiest cities in India. It’s also the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Varanasi is located on the banks of the Ganges river which is consider a holy river in the Hindu religion.
The ghats on the river are where many people flock to from all over. Both life and death intermingle on the banks of the Ganges. People come to take a dip in the river to absolve their sins but people also come to this holy city to die.
I saw many people swimming in the river to wash their sins away but I also saw burning bodies along the banks. The bodies are surrounded by pieces of wood so it resembles that of a coffin. At first I was concerned about seeing bodies being cremated along the river but it wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. All you see is fire burning up the wood without seeing the bodies. I didn’t take any pictures of this out of respect for the families saying goodbye to their loved ones. It’s not something you can capture in a picture anyways but more of something that needs to be experienced first hand.
Waiting in a train station to go to Varanasi. Seeing cows in the train station is a very normal thing.
Out on the Ganges river. The ghats, or steps leading down to the river, are in the background.
Many Indians living in Varanasi make their living by rowing tourists up and down the river to see all the ghats.
You will also see many children selling flowers and candles. This little girl was precious and of course I bought a candle from her.
The flowers and candles represent the prayers of the people. This was my first candle to send off and my new friend helped me and showed me how it was done. (photos with me in them were taken by Chase Bray)
We each said a prayer to ourselves and then lit our candles.
Our candles and prayers floating off into the river.
When the sun has gone down the river is full of flickering flames.
He worked hard rowing up and down the river.
Touring the Ghats.
Across the river two boys swimming to get clean. People take baths in the river as well as do their laundry.
Water Buffalo walking up the ghats.
A woman selling vegetables on the streets of Varanasi.
The main street in town.
I happened to be there on a very special celebration. It was the Ganga Puja which means the birthday or descent of the mother Ganges.
People gather every morning and every evening for a ceremony to say good morning and good night to the river.
This evenings ceremony was particularly crowded because of the holiday.
People surround the priests both on land and in the river.
All throughout the ceremony the priests are singing and there are bells ringing.
Even though I couldn't understand the words the chanting and singing was beautiful.