what to find in Varanasi
I already wrote a post about our interesting experience at the burning ghats, but there’s also so much more to see. It’s no wonder they call Varanasi the spiritual capital of India. Walking down the many steps to the bank of the Ganges you won’t be able to walk 10 metres without being stared at or spoken to.
On our first walk along the bank we allowed ourselves to be blessed by holy men. Take your pick of them, there are many! We allowed one man with great white hair and a superb moustache bless us, he asked us questions about our families and then tied a red cord around our wrists. I’d read previously that this should tell others you have already had a blessing, however this is not the case. He took us over to the water and placed colourful petals into our palms and splashed water over them. We then threw the petals into the Ganges. We gave him 500 rupees each as he shouted out more blessings and increased our karma.
We found a young mother who decorated our hands in henna for 300 rupees . If you are not a huge fan of cows, be aware that many walk up and down here and its their right of way! Lydia’s famous last words were, ‘Cows are so docile’ and just seconds later a large cow tried to head butt her. She kept her distance from then on…
Families will ask for pictures with you which I think is really nice. If you have time just sit on the steps and watch the daily life of pilgrims, holy men, cows and street sellers as it’s absolutely fascinating. The lovely winding streets and alleyways behind the river are full of little shops selling clothing, jewellery, souvenirs, Indian trinkets and much more. Remember to haggle. We paid 150 rupees for harem pants – result!
We walked around the Monkey Temple which was a bike ride away. The funniest part was me having an arm wrestle with the locker guy. On our last day we organised a sunrise boat tour which unfortunately was cloudy but hey it got us up early! We watched as people bathed themselves in the very very dirty water. We spotted a European looking guy among those in the Ganges and our guide told us he was German and had lived in Varanasi for 30 years.
Varanasi is an incredible city which you have to visit in India. Just a few words of warning: Look out for the cow poo.