Friday, 13 April 2007

The Ganges

There's a sign on the wall that reads, "The Ganga is the life blood of India". Also referred to as the Great Mother. In the travel agent in Delhi a seasoned India-traveller asked where we were going. Varanasi was her second favourite place in India (used to be her first but she subsequently went to Kashmir and that has taken 1st place now). Very spiritual, she said. She spoke like she'd smoked too much dope - sort of slowly, with consideration.

At 5.30am we walked through the tight knots of streets down to the Ghats sitting on the Ganga's edge. Down the steps to the river, where we picked up a river boat that took us along the riverside - looking at the riverside temples, people bathing and washing their clothes, cremation pires at the far reaches tended by men with long poles, umbrellas, flags. Sun rose. Yogi's instruct their followers sitting cross legged on concrete platforms. Tourists survey the scene from rowing boats.

Much later we found ourselves back on the boat, watching prayers at one of the river side ghats, lights against water, monks wafting insense smoke and pots of fire, people pushing banana leaf bowls with tea lights inside into the water. The prayer leader's singing chants waft out across the water combined with bells clanging and drums.

For a closer look or to see more pictures of Varanasi click here.

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