Friday, February 17, 2012

Amazing Varanasi

February 16 - Varanasi - I don't even know what words can describe this place!  Even our hotel (Nedesar Palace) is mind-boggling.  It is a 10-room palace; each room is unique and has 200-year-old antiques within it.  We arrived in time for lunch.  A table for 15 was set on the patio in front of the swimming pool and large gardens.  We felt like royalty!  After lunch, we went to Sarnath to see the spot where Buddha gave his first speech.  We also toured the museum which houses many stunning artifacts uncovered here.

After this we went back to the most revered part of Varanasi (Kashi) and walked through the streets which are teeming with humanity.  It makes Times Square look rural.  After this amazing walk through tiny alleyways we got to the Ganges.  After descending about 40 stone steps, we walked a short distance along the shore to our row boat (easily seating all of us.)  We rowed to the cremation area and witnessed living breathing history.  There are about 200 cremations a day along the Ganges at this ghat.  The bodies are placed in the river for a moment and then laid out to have the water drain.  When the time is right, they are brushed with clarified butter and then taken to their specific funeral pyre.  The flame is lit and they are cremated for about 2 1/2 hours.  Then a relative throws water over his head on the pyre and walks home without looking back. The process is over!  The funerals are going on 24/7 365 days a year.

Next we rowed to where a ceremony was being held along the riverbank and disembarked.  We watched the monks for quite some time (along with the throngs of enthusiastic pilgrims) as they rang bells, swirled incense and said prayers. 

We went back to our hotel at about 8PM for a wonderful dinner outside (where we had lunch) and there were lotus-shaped candles lit all around the pool.  We went to bed after dinner; exausted but glowing internally with what we have been privileged to see.

No comments:

Post a Comment