It's been a minute since I posted my last thread, Trapped at the Taj, which you can see here
. I was traveling again and didn't get a chance to wrap up my Asian saga before I left. Apologies for the lapse, but I got too busy before I left back in February preparing for my trip, wrapping up a move from Colorado and finalizing my thesis. However, I'm back and ready to pick up things where I left off. On top stop XII of the Asian Saga: Varanasi.
From the craziness of Agra and Lucknow, I hopped a train to Varanasi, one of the oldest and holiest cities in India. I was ready for a break and Varanasi offered just the soothing and tranquil environment I needed. I was there during August when the summer melt and rain season was in full force. The Ganges river was rising several inches everyday, the water a muddy brown and the flow swollen and fast. Usually one can walk the banks of the river but the water level was so high that all passage about the city had to be carried out on the narrow streets, where cows and monkeys are as common of a site as the wandering babas and sadhus.
The city sees thousands of pilgrims everyday that come to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges. One temple, the burning ghat, is used as a crematorium for the deceased. Bodies are burned there all day and night and it is not uncommon to encounter a small procession of people carrying a family member's dressed body through the streets to be burned. Witnessing the process of death and cremation was one of the more intense experiences I've had traveling. Despite the chaos and emotional intensity wrought by the city, I felt at peace. So much so that I found myself returning just a few months later. But that's the subject of another thread.
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Hope you enjoyed. Kolkata is up next.