Blogs from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, Asia


Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi January 12th 2020

Over the past two days we've had three walking tours with Varanasi Walks, The Far North and Northern Bazaars and Hidden Alleyways, on Thursday and Death and Rebirth in Banares on Friday. Our guide Anmet, suggested we change the itinerary a little on Thursday and not spend all day in the northern part of Varanasi as the two tour areas overlap somewhat. We went with his recommendation of spending the morning in the north and the afternoon exploring around the very southern part of Varanasi, where we're staying. Anmet took us to places we wouldn't have found on our own, and over filled our heads with spiritual history and folklore we'll never remember. We visited the only mosque on the ghats, Alamgir Mosque, which occupies the spot where a Vishnu Temple once stood. The temple was ... read more
Varanasi's Best Dressed Dog
Old Cycle Rickshaw
Tourist Boat on Ganges River

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi February 24th 2019

Due to the lost days in the middle, my eight days in Varanasi had actually begun to feel short. I woke up late that last morning with only one thing on my mind, hiring a boat to take me across and down the Ganges to Ramnagar Fort. That was the only thing left on my list to accomplish in Varanasi. And now miraculously given my recent illness, I was this close to achieving all my pre-trip goals. To navigate and face India one needs to be at full health. That’s because this country demands all the strength and sense of humor you can muster. I now had both back in full force. Let’s do this. My first thought was to hire a boat from someone on the Mir Ghat which was directly in front of my ... read more
Group of Holymen
Setting off down the Ganges
Ramnagar Fort

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi February 22nd 2019

You can’t avoid India. Try to hide out and it will make a way to find you. I was in my bed at 10am when I was awoken from a blissfully deep sleep. It sounded like all of Varanasi was right outside my door. I peered through the curtains of my room’s window. What I saw was around two hundred people crammed onto the hotel patio, some sitting right up inches away from my room. If I wanted to leave my room, I would have to push my way through and step over the multitudes. Breakfast? Forget about it. They appeared to be some kind of Hindu pilgrim group. I could see a microphone setup with huge loudspeakers. Then the speeches began. Speech after speech booming through the amplifiers, saying lord knows what. You have got ... read more
Up from the Ganges
Marching along
My "Peaceful" Ghat

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi February 20th 2019

It started with one single sneeze at dinner last night. Afterwards when I returned to my tissueless room I became aware that my nose had begun running like a leaky faucet. Hmm, maybe I was coming down with something. I popped in a couple of Nyquil and hoped for the best. By the time I settled down for sleep I began to sense how strong the air conditioner had gotten. The previous days it had barely managed a ripple, but currently it had the feeling of a roaring refrigerator. I thought that could not possibly be good for someone with a budding illness. I turned it way down. As I gradually slipped away into slumber, I pulled the covers tight around myself, but the chill remained. I guess it was just a random wintry night. Throughout ... read more
Breakfast View
My Salvation
Trapped in my room

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi February 19th 2019

Sunrise over the Ganges. That is what everyone was talking about. Even before arriving in India, every video I watched or book I read claimed that waking up early to explore the Ganges was something I simply had to do. I had never really focused on the why before. I just figured it was something I was required to check off my list. The details would fill themselves in later. However, I simply could not roust myself up at 5am. It wasn’t until 7am that I finally got underway. Eschewing breakfast, I hurried out the hotel door and down toward the river. Descending the steps, I became aware of the surreal light. The air was a soft white and blue. The rays of light were not at all strong given that the sun had not risen ... read more
Bathing in the Ganges
New Friends

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi February 18th 2019

For the first time while in India there would be no need to wake up early. There was no breakfast buffet to get up for. Instead there was an outdoor restaurant that served breakfast and dinner foods all day. And the restaurant was right outside my room. Having woke up luxuriantly late I practically had the whole place to myself. And what a place it was. I picked a table on the rail overlooking the Ganges. From my perfect perch I could observe all the life down below. The locals boarding boats to be ferried across or down the river. People walking along the ghats. The boats clustering and drifting down the river in jolly scrums. On the other side of the river people wandered and clustered on the dry floodplain. To me the distant figures ... read more
Contemplating Life
Holymen of Varanasi

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi February 17th 2019

The fact that I was stuck in a middle seat did not bother me, because my Air India flight could not have been any nicer. The seats were a good size, the sari-clad stewardesses were kind, and although it was only a two-hour flight they served us a decent lunch. America might think of itself as first world, but our domestic air service is strictly bottom of the barrel. It wasn’t until we landed that a little bit of India broke out. The passengers began pushing and shoving to get off of the plane almost from the moment it touched down. But once they got down to the pavement outside all they did was stand around and take selfies. After which they ambled slowly toward the airport terminal. Back home if someone pushed his way off ... read more
Mumbai Airport
Old City
Foot Traffic

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi September 28th 2018

Being a little cooler first thing in the morning we decided to get up early again today. I must admit that without knowing there was a boat waiting for us it was difficult but the call to prayers by the next door mosque at 5am helped wake us up. After finding someone to let us out of our guesthouse we wondered down to the Ghats to watch the morning goings on. The Ghats just north of the Manikarnika ghat (main burning ghat) were surprisingly quiet compared to those we rowed past at the same time to the south yesterday. There were a few men washing in the Ganges and a group having a religious service in an area at the back of the Ghat. Finding a place with a reasonable view we sat down to watch ... read more
Morning ceremony
Scales at Manikarnika Ghat
Main market.

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi September 27th 2018

Proud to be up, dressed and ready to leave at 0530 this morning our timeliness for the boat was thwarted when we discovered we were locked into the guest house! Another couple soon joined us, also wanting to leave for a boat ride and our noise managed to wake the owner up so we were soon let out. Our boat guide was waiting for us just outside. Walking down to Munshi Ghat we were surprised to find it already very busy, full of people washing in the Ganges. The Ghat we started at was full of Brahmins (high class Hindus) washing, and there were quite a few women as well as men. Our boat was a rowing boat, complete with bamboo oars with planks of wood attached to make the blade. Being rowed up the river ... read more
Busy morning Ghats
Washing in the Ganges
Sunrise over the Ganges

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi September 26th 2018

We finally managed to get to Varanasi about midnight last night, only 12 hours later than planned. Our tuk tuk driver from the station didn’t seem that confident as to the exact location of our guesthouse and we found ourselves wondering down the narrow alleys somewhat unsure of where we were going. Fortunately a couple of nice locals en route reassured us we were going in the right direction and we soon arrived. Well locked up they fortunately answered the doorbell and were extremely kind and welcoming. Our room is small but clean and tidy and we were soon fast asleep. This morning we decided to do our usual wonder around. After a rooftop breakfast (with view of the Ganges) we walked down to the nearest ghat (munshi ghat) and then headed south along the river. ... read more
Cleaning the Ghats
The Ghats
Buffalo in the Ganges

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