Day Twenty Three – The Spiritual Capital of India

19th November 2010 – 371 miles

Despite there being a lot of distance to cover today, the roads are seemingly getting better the further east we’re travelling through India.

However, we were making unecessary stops attemping to withdraw cash from ATMs to enable us to pay for fuel.  I must have tried three cashpoints along the way before I managed to obtain some money.  Thanks Bank of India for making me wait in line only to be told that your ATMs had broken down or you were closing once I reached the front of the queue!

We eventually reached Varanasi that evening and checked into a hovel of a hotel, opposite the mainline railway station of the city.  It was such a depressing place, that we had to go out that evening.

Varanasi, located on the banks of the India’s holiest river, the Ganges, is the Hindu faith’s spiritual centre which emanates from its temples [the one pictured here was above a parade of shops] and riverside bathing ghats.  We were warned that Varanasi was not for the faint-hearted and here the most intimate rituals of life and death take place in public in and around the ghats.

So naturally, we made a bee-line for the old city where the riverbank ghats (about 80 in total) are situated, hoping not to witness a cremation.

As it happens, what we did see was an evening of cultural entertainment hosted in a makeshift open-air amphitheatre set-up at a ghat besides the Ganges.

Following a nice vegetarian meal nearby, we took a tuk tuk back to the hotel, and managed to sleep through the trains thundering past our rooms out of exhaustion.

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