Home > India > 24th November – Walking on the ghats in Varanasi

24th November – Walking on the ghats in Varanasi

Happy Birthday Cecile!
Our first day in Varanasi. Our hotel Scindhia Guesthouse is situated on the banks of the Ganges near the famous ghat Manikarnika. Manikarnika ghat is where most cremations occur.

Varanasi is an old Hindu city, one of the oldest cities in the world. It’s in Northern India in a region called Uttar Pradesh.

Our room overlooks the Ganges and the morning sunshine just shone through our window made it a beautiful way to wake up.

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Julie opened the curtain to the the bright orange sun rising over the Ganges and the reflection of orange on the river. Pilgrims and locals come to this river for their daily ritual ablutions.

Hindus believe anyone that dies in Varanasi attains instant enlightenment. Old people and widows come here for their final days staying in shelters.

Had breakfast on the roof and then set out to book all of our tickets for India so at least we have somewhere to sleep on the train.

Our walk to the station was interesting as we are now seeing these alleys we walked in the dark last night for the first time in the daytime. We saw a few covered dead bodies being carried to the the river. It was surreal and obviously locals didn’t look twice but for us it was a shock.

Took a an auto-charge to the train station where we found the tourist information office and we were advised not to buy all our tickets in advance as this time of the year there are a lot of delays. So we only bought a ticket to Agra.

We left station and got an auto-charge to the southern ghat Asi. Had lunch and walked up to the northern ghats near our hotel.

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The walk was crazy, the smell of human and animal feaces were overpowering and also stunk of urine. Everywhere we walked along the Ganges stunk of wee and couldn’t believe people washed themselves in this river.

Not only the bodily fluids put us off swimming in it but chance of having an encounter with a dead body and diseases from the river.

We took a photos and along the way, said the words “No Thank You” and “England” and “France”. People wanted us to use their boat for sunset as apparently it’s a beautiful scene. We declined and I lied I did it yesterday so that would leave me alone. Someone wanted to give me a head massage which I definitely declined.

We went past a few cremations going on at the same time. We didn’t stick around as our first experience in Nepal was just overwhelming.

Got back to our hotel around 4:30, checked mail, news, Facebook and then went to our room to relax before dinner tonight.

In India, they don’t have wifi like they do in other southeast Asian countries. It’s a little annoying as we would like to update blog and catch up but need to pay every time we want to use net. Never believe when a guerillas states they have wifi, they don’t.

Went for dinner at Shanti Guesthouse, but the walk to the restaurant was a little tricky but luckily this local kid took us there without asking for anything. Julie got her dinner first and had to wait 40 mins later for mine. Not eating there again, it seems like mist people had been waiting over an hour for theirs too.

Got back to hotel and slept.

En français:

Ce matin, je suis réveillée par des aboiements sous notre fenêtre. Quand je regarde, je découvre le lever de soleil sur le Gange et notre ghat. C’est super beau!

On passe la matinée a organiser notre séjour en Inde, le train sera le meilleur moyen de transport donc on essaie de fixer des dates.
On prend un ‘auto’ (tuk-tuk version India) pour aller jusqu’à la gare et on passe 20 bonnes minutes a obtenir le numéro des trains que l’on souhaite prendre pendant le prochain moins.
Ça c’est a un guichet, on va ensuite au bureau d’information pour touristes et on doit remplir un formulaire pour chaque train ce que je fais: 9 formulaires quand même! Quand c’est enfin notre tour pour acheter les billets, le mec nous dit que ça ne vaut pas le coup d’acheter tous les billets en avance car il y aura des problèmes et on ne pourra pas être rembourses si le train est annule!! Donc au final, on n’achète que notre billet pour Agra et encore, celui a la date que l’on voulait est complet donc on part un jour plus tard, on reste donc 4 nuits a Varanasi!

Une fois tout règlé, on reprend un ‘auto’ pour aller au sud au ghat Asi. Notre programme est de tout remonter jusqu’à notre guesthouse. On commence par déjeuner dans un restaurant qui surplombe le ghat. On ne mange pas indien malheureusement mais des pizzas. C’est un comble mais il est très difficile de trouver des restaurants indien en Inde. Les indiens mangent dans la rue et en tant que touriste ce n’est pas vraiment recommande, si vous voyez ce que je veux dire… On verra si le resto de ce soir servira indien…

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Après notre déjeuner (on a même pris une part de tarte aux pommes avec une boule de glace vanille), on commence a arpenter les ghats.
C’est génial: il y a toute l’Inde réunie sur ces centaines fe marches qui mener au Gange: des vaches d’abord, mais aussi des enfants qui jouent au cerf-volant, des mendiants, des vendeurs de souvenirs, des prêtres, des sadhus, des riches businessmen, des grand-pères, des bébés, des chiens, des chèvres, des chats, des morts, des vendeurs de fleurs, des gargottes, des crottes, des vélos etc….

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Après plusieurs ghats, on croise le premier ‘burning’ ghat, l’un des deux qui servent a la crémation. On a d’ailleurs vu plusieurs corps êtres transportes dans les ruelles de la vieille ville ce matin. On ne s’arrête pas au premier mais on passe un peu plus de temps au second: Manikarnika ghat. Il y a des morceaux de bois sur toutes les marches et plusieurs feux qui brulent en même temps. Il n’y a que des hommes présents pour les crémations, les femmes sont interdites, je crois que c’est a cause de leurs réactions.

On arrive a Ghat Scindhia vers 16h30, celui ou se trouve notre guesthouse. On se pose un peu avant de partir diner pas très loin la Shanti Guesthouse. On n’ose pas trop s’aventurer dans les petites ruelles sombres et pleines de bouses de vaches donc c’est pour ça qu’on ne va pas loin. Malheureusement, le restaurant sur le toit de la guesthouse a service plus que lent. J’ai fini de diner quand Kwasi reçoit ce qu’il a commande!

On rentre vers 21h a Scindhia et on se couche.

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