Two days in Varanasi…
Delhi was amazing but India is an absolutely massive place, so it was finally time to find that out for ourselves.
Day 322 – Sunday 9th April 2017
Today, after sharing a bed with Abbie for fifteen hours on the overnight train from Delhi, we finally made it to Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India.
From Manduadih Station we took a tuk tuk to Stops Hostel, as recommended by Aru (one of the staff at Madpackers). There the three of us checked into the fourteen bed dorm – the biggest room any of us have ever stayed in.
At 15:30 we headed up to the roof for free chai, got chatting to a few others from the hostel, and made a last minute decision to sign up for the Ghats Tour which started at 16:00. We walked for a short while to the Ganges River, then jumped in a boat and headed north, checking out a few of the 87 ghats (riverfront steps) that lead down to the banks of the River Ganges:
We stopped on the other side of the water to watch the sun go down, then spent some time near Manikarnika Ghat, a place that is reserved in Hindu religion where hundred of bodies are cremated every day:
Our last stop of the tour was Dasaswamedh Ghat, where Ganga Aarti (a synchronised ceremony worshipping the Ganges) takes place every evening at dusk:
On the way back to the hostel we stopped for food at Kerala Cafe, where we all tried something new – Jasmine and I went for Masala Dosa (India’s answer to a pancake or crepe) while Abbie chose the Chole Bhature (a combination of spicy chick peas and fried bread).
When we finally got back our dorm was half empty and that suited us perfectly, because that way we didn’t have to feel guilty about turning the lights off and going to sleep. I guess we’d have been a bit more sociable if there was a lot going on, but there wasn’t, so straight to bed it was!
Day 323 – Monday 10th April 2017
This morning we had breakfast up on the roof before it started to get too hot, then took it upon ourselves to go for a walk to see what we could find. We didn’t really have a sense of direction but knew that as long as the river was nearby we would be able to find our way eventually, so didn’t worry when we started to get a little lost.
We somehow found our way to Varanasi Street Market, then ended up strolling right into the middle of Manikarnika Ghat, which we’d have avoided for obvious reasons if we knew where we were. Still, I guess it was kind of interesting to be in amongst the cremation ceremonies – let’s consider it a culturally rewarding experience shall we?
We walked back along the ghats to our hostel where we arrived at 15:00, just in time for more free chai, which gave us a great excuse to spend the rest of the afternoon doing nothing. It seems as though nobody is ever in a rush in Varanasi, and that’s probably a good thing, especially when there’s a high chance of coming across cows, goats, monkeys or (most disturbingly) dead bodies as you wander through the city.
In the evening we joined two of our dorm mates for dinner, in a tiny restaurant where we played it safe and went for Masala Dosa again because we didn’t recognise much else on the menu. It wasn’t bad though, especially for ₹70 (that’s only 87p) per person!
We walked back to the hostel after eating, put our names down for the Sunrise Tour tomorrow morning, and then got straight into bed. The sun rises in Varanasi at around 05:30, so we needed as much sleep as we could get really!