The Holy City of Varanasi

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November 4th 2004
Published: February 11th 2006
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Gerry and Denise's Journey

Starting in London we travelled to India, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, US, London, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Cuba and back to London. Started October 2004, finished August 2005.

Sunrise over the GangesSunrise over the GangesSunrise over the Ganges

At sunrise, those not washing themselves in the river, jump in a boat and watch everyone else washing!
From Agra, and the Taj Mahal, we headed to Varanasi, the Holy City of the Hindus, formerly called Banares. It's here that people come to cleanse themselves in the River Ganga (Ganges), especially first thing in the morning. Also on the banks of the river people cremate the dead, there's a special site where there are 24 hour burnings. When we sailed past on a boat we had hired at sunset we counted about 16 fires at the one time. Understandably, We were not allowed to photograph the cremations.

Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities in the world, and much of it feels like it hasn't changed in hundreds of years. For a couple of days we stayed in a guesthouse overlooking the river, with fantastic views from one end of the city to the other and right across the surprisingly wide river. Unfortunately right outside our window was an incredibly brght light which attracted every flying bug in Varanasi and our room proved to be anything but bugproof. I spent the night jumping out of bed every two minutes to thwack some low-flying buzzing interloper, Denise couldn't work out which was the more annoying, me or the mossies! Behind our guesthouse there was a labyrinth of narrow Dickensian alleys, filled with little niches (it would be an exaggeration to call them shops) of traders, repairers, cleaners, and craftsmen, each lit with candles or oil lamps as the tall, dominant buildings blocked out the light at street level.

The rest of out time (4 or 5 days) we stayed in a lovely, clean hotel (Hotel Surya) which was an oasis of calm and serenity amidst the madness and bustle which was the city of Varanasi. The Hotel owner has bought and is in the process of renovating an adjoining magnificent old palace, which was once occupied by the King of Nepal, and is over 200 years old. It will become a sauna and Yoga centre 'for the Swedish tourists' when its finished in about 6 months!

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Rickshaw through the streets of VaranasiRickshaw through the streets of Varanasi
Rickshaw through the streets of Varanasi

This guy really struggled to pull us fat Westerners! Denise and I had an argument as I had wanted to get an autorickshaw.
Palace or Yoga Centre?Palace or Yoga Centre?
Palace or Yoga Centre?

This is the old Palace of the King of Nepal. Its over 200 years old and is being renovated by the hotel we stayed in. Scaffolding looks a bit dodgy to me!
Denise at SarnathDenise at Sarnath
Denise at Sarnath

Varanasi may be holy to the Hindus, but Sarnath, just a few kilometres outside the city is holy to the Buddhists, as the Buddha taught here and gave his first public sermon here.
View from Hotel SuryaView from Hotel Surya
View from Hotel Surya

This was the view from our room in the Hotel Surya, a great place, clean, good food, cheap, and friendly waiters (although they work long hours).

5th November 2004

Fantastic photos!
I love the photos of the Ganges, really inspires me to visit the area. Thanks for posting :)
14th November 2004

Ghosts on the Ganges
A wonderful photo that truly captures the early morning on the ghats of Mother Ganga. Thank you for sharing your photos.
24th May 2005

Awesoe Pics
awesome Pics Dennis U rock - abhy
17th September 2005

Great Photos
I loved Varanassi, you captured it beautifully !
21st November 2005

Loved the photos, we are going on Dec.11 and look forward to see it all for real!Any other tips for Varanassi - we have 2 nights there.
26th March 2006

Obscure Reference
Mr Cowell won't help much with shutter speeds, he'll just tell you to marry a celebrity.
21st July 2008

fantastic photographs
Really all the phtographs of varanasi did inspire me too much and definitely one would like to visit this beautiful city situated at the bank of holy river ganges. Thanx for the work done by you.

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