We had a nice restful morning as we didn't leave the hotel until noon. We went directly to the airport after leaving the hotel. The very small Khajuraho airport was only about a mile from the hotel. Security was interesting. My doctor doesn't examine me as close as these guys. Our flight to Varanasi was delayed about a half hour because the plane was late coming in. They did a remarkably fast job of turning the plane around. It was a fully loaded 737-800. We started boarding before the people already on the plane had even gotten off. It was only a 40 minute flight to Varanasi.
We touched down in Varanasi at about 3:15 and got to our hotel at about 4:30. We dropped our bags in the room and immediately headed out. Our first stop was at the large relief map of India.
Our next stop was at a music school where we had a short music performance.
As always one of the most interesting parts of the day is navigating the Indian traffic. Varanasi is a very densely populated city. We ditched the bus at the hotel and used several cars to get around the city.
Varanasi is to the Hindus like Vatican City is to Catholics. We Got to the River Ganges just after dark.
The buildings along the river all have ghats (steps) going down to the Ganges.
We boarded our rickety old boat and began our cruise down the Ganges.
This experience this evening was worth the cost and effort to get here. I felt like I was in a Cecil B. DeMille movie. We sailed down the river as they were having the evening aarti ceremony at the ghats on the river bank.
All these pictures are screen grabs from my video. Obviously my still camera was useless on a moving boat at night.
A little further down the river was the cremation site. All Hindus are cremated. Only the men go to the cremation. You can see several cremations in progress in the picture below.
We could see them bringing the bodies down to the river to be washed. Then the bodies are cremated. The cremation takes four hours.
We came back to the hotel for dinner after leaving the river. It was after 10:00 before we finished dinner. Have to get to bed now. Going back to the Ganges at sunrise tomorrow.
For the most part this was my last day in India. We fly back to Delhi at the end of the trip but we never leave the airport. Tomorrow we fly to Kathmandu in Nepal. This morning we got up at 5:00AM to watch the sun rise on the Ganges. We had to walk quite a ways to get from the bus to the river. We would have had to walk even further if the bus driver hadn't bribed the police to let us go through a roadblock. The streets were really crowded with people heading to the river for the morning rituals. The smell from the filthy streets was very intense. The streets of India are just one big toilet. I am going to burn my shoes when I get home.
We took the same route on the river as we did last night. Below is the cremation site.
The sun continued to rise as we sailed along.
Below is a picture of me as we sailed past the most popular ghat. That's Roger from Colorado on my left.
The sun was fully up in the picture below as we pass more ghats along the river.
Hindus come from all over to bath in the sacred water of the Ganges. Varanasi is their holiest city.
We came back to the hotel for breakfast after our sunrise cruise on the Ganges. I skipped the afternoon sales pitch so I had four hours after breakfast to take a nap. Didn't get to bed until 1:00AM last night and had to get up at 5:00. This afternoon we went to a Buddhist temple. There aren't many Buddhists in India. This is the place where Buddha first spoke.
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