India, India, India… It is a huge country and very different from east to west and north to south. Most people say that traveling in the southern part is a lot easier and tourist friendly than in the north. Other say that you haven’t been to “the real India” until you have been in the northern parts. Either way, I guess it was worth finding out for myself.
An ancient place
Varanasi is a holy place and recognized by both Hinduism and Jainism to be the most sacred city. It is also one of the oldest continuously inhabited inhabited cities of the world with settlements dating back to the 11th century BC. So considering religion and history I guess this is as much India as you can get. And what is India like then? Well, what fascinates me is that India in general and Varanasi in particular is very much alive. In other places you might hear stories about ancient traditions and rituals but here I can see it for myself, it is still ongoing. And they don’t do it for the tourists, they do it because it is their reality. When I came down to the riverbanks of Ganges on my first evening to watch the sunset and the daily fire ceremony I did get goosebumps on my skin. This is a truly magical place.
It is impossible to describe it all but below are a few thoughts:
- The actual city of Varanasi is crazy busy and noisy but down by the river it is a lot more relaxed. Sometimes even calm and quiet.
- Starting my days with meditation and yoga in the sunrise at a rooftop overlooking Ganges is a good start of the day.
- The water of Ganges did not look so dirty as I expected. However, I would think twice before brushing my teeth (as I saw some people did) in the same water as buffalos swim and dead bodies are dumped.
- Colours, everywhere it is colours. There is cow poo on the streets and garbage in every corner but the bright colours of the saris are shining as bright as the sun and creates an amazing contrast to the dusty streets.
- The Indian Prime Minister Modi and the French President Macron also seem to like Varanasi as they made a visit to the city and took a boat cruise together during my stay here. (See the picture; Modi in white, Macron in black.)
“Within the chaos.
Magic is found.”
/Tara Isis Gerris