I was asked if we saw any dead bodies on the Ganges. And luckily no we did not. I am not sure how our group of ladies would have reacted to that. What we did see was life. Amazing, simple, beautiful, precious life.
Our evening rickshaw ride through the heart of Varanasi was truly life changing. Thousands of people converge on the streets for the evening to socialize, sell their wares, and have an evening meal. Hawkers, beggars, cows, dogs, pigs, women, men and children everywhere. The first thought when viewing all of this is “how can they live in this pure chaos?” But as we were taken by rickshaws through the streets we began to see an ebb and flow to life here. And somehow amidst the total poverty and heartbreaking conditions of the majority of the people here is the simple beauty of life being lived.
We took both an evening and an early morning boat ride on the Ganges to experience both the sunset and the sunrise. All around us is a sea of people going about their daily chores and rituals. Oblivious to the flash of the cameras and curious stares of the tourists who are here along with us to witness this spectacular scene. Men and women bathing, laundry men pounding clothing on laundry boards, morning yoga, incense burning, chanting, singing, and morning prayers all create a surreal atmosphere completely indescribable without seeing it for oneself.
All of this set on a backdrop of what were once magnificent Maharajahs palaces and although now crumbling are still a beautiful site.
Varanasi is an amazing experience. Tomorrow we are off to Agra.