After a 17 hour train journey from Delhi we arrived in Varanasi very tired as neither of us got a lot of sleep on the train. We met a couple of Kiwi's that made the time pass quicker, but the train was so slow i felt we could have walked faster.
Varanasi is a strange place, its very religious, infact its one of the most religious places in India. It is where families bring their relatives once they have dyed to be dipped in the Ganges to be cleared of all sin and then to be cremated on the open fires for everyone to see. Our hotel is direclty above the buring Ghat, not a very pleasant site, but an interesting one. Then 200 meters down the river at another Ghat the rest of Varanasi were holding Diwali celebrations with music, dancing and fireworks. We watched this from the boat on our first night, it was an amazing specticle, but i couldn't get my head around what was happening at the other Ghat.
We have had some amazing experiences here. We have been on a boat ride at sun rise and sunset, that we have plenty of photos of. We have prayed with a hindu man in his self made temple that was more like a cave at the side of the Ganges and Matthew has been acosted by the smallest man in Varanasi for a full body massage in the middle of the street. Very funny!
We have done a lot of walking, Matthew wanted to go and see the Ramnager Fort that didn't look that far away. It was across the Ganges and it felt like a 10 mile walk, although i think it was only about 5. On the way we passed some of the poorest families we have seen. They didn't even have a roof over their head. The children were still so happy though and kept shouting hello and waving at us. We have met some really friendly people here. Once we had looked round the Fort i refused to walk back to the hotel so we got in a motorised rickshaw. Although it took the weight off the feet, it was a scary experience, at least when you are walking you are in control of your own destiny.
As this is such a religious place, they do not sell alcohol. Everone (including the locals) seem to be stoned instead. They sell a drink called Bang Lassi that is Banana flavoured with cannabis in it. Hindu's apparently drink this before they go an pray. We thought 'when in Rome' so we tried one. It tasted ok, but give us beer any day!
We have both really enjoyed Varanasi, but travel to Agra tonight and are looking forward to a bottle of Kingfisher! We will update again soon.