After an exciting month in Myanmar we flew back for our last stay in Bangkok. From there we flew to Kuala Lumpur to catch our connecting flight to Kolkata. It looks a bit of a detour
to fly over KL, but these two Airasia flights were together the cheapest we could find. Flying from Myanmar straight into India was just too costly. This entry handles our stay in India before going into Nepal. Our second stay after Nepal will get a separate entry. Kolkata
To start your India travels in Kolkata was not recommended by many fellow travelers. We have heard horrific stories about the 8th largest urban agglomeration
in the world. When we arrived in the busy city, we discovered that it wasn't all that bad. We stayed in the area around Sudder street, where most backpackers stay in small windowless rooms with sometimes cold water bathrooms attached.
In the few days we stayed in Kolkata we visited the Victoria Memorial, the busy Dalhousie square in the colonial district and wondered around some markets, where loads of clothing and other goods were sold. Because we wanted to go into Nepal we visited the foreign registration office to see if we could
get some more information about the latest rules on re-entering India: of course we got no satisfying answer. A real treat was the transportation by metro we used a couple of times. Cramped up with hundreds of other people the metro is still the best way of transportation. Bodhgaya
In Kolkata we registered us to the Indian Railways website, from where we could easily book our future traintickets. Unfortunately the train to Bodhgaya was full. Tourist offices in Sudder street have access to the so called "tourist quota", reserved seats for tourists, for which we had to pay a bit extra of course. The night train arrived early morning in Gaya, from where we took a auto rickshaw to Bodhgaya half an hour away. Bodhgaya is a tranquil city. We stayed a bit out of the center in a guesthouse right in the middle of a bit poorer part of town, where they live in clay houses. Bodhgaya is the place where Buddha got his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. A descendant of the original Bodhi Tree can be found in the Mahabodhi
temple complex. It was quite relaxing to sit near the Bodhi Tee to see Buddhists praying.
Anna got lucky when a leave fell and landed just next to her. They say it brings luck to the finder, so she keeps it as a bookmark. Varanasi
The holy city of Varanasi is a dirty crowded city, but has got an awesome atmosphere. Most of the guesthouses are situated on the Ganges and in order to get there you have to find your way in the labyrinth on small alleyways. Since it was the evening before the Holi
festival, the streets were crowded with people. Luckily the guide of a Japanese girl, who we had met in the train, wanted to bring us to our guesthouse. People had advised us not to go on the street during Holi the following day. There were reports of women getting harassed on the streets. Unfortunately Anna was sick anyways so we stayed in the guesthouse to enjoy Holi from the rooftop. People had bought loads of colorant to put this in water balloons to throw and water pistols and sometimes just a plain bucket to people standing on the surrounding rooftops. It was one big colorspectacle. We were pink all over.
The next three days Anna took a morning
yoga class. Further more we just wondered around the area with it's small alleyways along the Ganges, where cows and cowshit are the main obstacles. We stayed close to the Manikarnika Ghat
or burning Ghat, where the Hindus from all over India come to burn their dead ones. Often we saw how they carried a body from the main street, while chanting all the way through the alley towards the Burning Ghat. It was a lugubrious to see how a man breaks the leg of a body to keep the fire going. One evening we went out on the Ganges by boat. The boatman took us to the other side of the river where some bones and a skull were laying. Dead pregnant woman and children are too pure to be subjected to burning, so they throw them in the Ganges. The boattrip ended by seeing a ritual performance named Ganga Aarti
at the main ghat.
After a divine experience in Varanasi, we organized our transportation to Nepal. A nighttrain would bring us to Gorakhpur, from where we'd catch a 3 hour bus to the Nepali border to start our Nepal adventures.
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