THIS IS AN ATTRACTIVE INDIA. VARANASI
When planning a trip to India, each first thing determines for itself the limits of acceptable risk: for some, even the first day in Goa will be extreme, somewhere on the main street of Calangute, where it is almost impossible for an inexperienced tourist to overcome a distance of 2 meters between moving cows and bikes , cars, people to go to the other side of the street. The polar concept of extreme will be traveling by train, bypassing the state of Goa, in cars without air conditioning, packed full of curious, friendly and not very local people, who often do not even speak English, but are actively trying to make conversation with you.
We chose for ourselves a “well-rounded” and well-known route along the “Golden Triangle”, since this was the first experience of independent travel. However, my restless nature and rushed to the exploits, and since I was the main for touring, then on the map of our journey came the city, from which the knowledgeable hearsay goosebumps run through the body – Varanasi. I studied the reviews for a very long time, watched documentaries about this place, and until the last moment I was not sure that we should visit the edge of life and death …
The train from Delhi has already left the platform, and I began to feel the color of the Indian railways. We took tickets to a decent such “Russian reserved seat” with air conditioning and a friendly Indian family in the neighborhood, which, of course, did not speak English. However, this fact did not prevent us with gestures to keep up the conversation at the joint click of Russian seeds.
In Varanasi, we arrived early and early in the morning, when the sun had not yet risen above the horizon and did not envelop the narrow streets with its rays. Getting to the city was not as poetic as I imagined it. Seeing narrow passages between piles of concrete and planks, leading in different directions, “poor”, begging at every step of our route, feeling the stench from the piles of debris on the roadsides, I thought, trying to abstract from reality. In thinking about the upcoming day, I did not notice how we got to our hotel (I specifically chose the hotel on Manikarnika Ghat, since this is one of the most popular ghats of Varanasi and it is here that the cremation takes place, and then the choice of this particular hotel helped us not to get lost in the “eternal city”).
So, morning … Having slept a couple of hours, we fell into the arms of the “eternal city.” Advice to travelers: do not use the services of the guides of Varanasi, walk on foot, look into the streets, walk along the banks of the Ganges, visit all the ghats (they are unique).
Living on Manikarnik ghat, we could not ignore the funeral pyres, and immediately went to see the burial ceremony.
I was already determined to run when I saw this spectacle, but … We sat on the steps of the ghat, before our eyes several families saw our relatives on the last journey, setting fire to the bodies with fire from a fire, which according to legends has been burning for three thousand years. And I find myself thinking that there is no fear, all the more disgust, only calm. With all the rituals of this ritual, it is not perceived as something terrible. Everything goes its turn: relatives watch the soul of their relative reincarnate, cows slowly eat funeral wreaths, children splash in the river in search of ornaments and money that they throw into the water, seeing off the dead, someone in the distance washes their clothes. The river became the foundation of the city, its life force and the place of eternal oblivion.
With ease on the soul and a heap of thoughts in my head, we move on. Walk through the ghats.
Everyone is like a separate world, one is meant for death, the other is for a holiday, the third is for sports, passing the next one, we see male laundresses (they forbid themselves to photograph).
Clothes are drying on the gently sloping concrete grounds of the ghat, resembling a field of flowers.
Passing the next, we are interested in unusual designs for fishing (long vertical sticks with red flags and boxes). Suddenly, we hear the cries of monkeys, turn our heads and watch the family drama: a huge baboon weaves a little cub, and he squeals about urine. Thank God, he managed to escape.