On the 16th day of our trip to India we arrived in Varanasi. This is one of the oldest cities on earth and dates back to 5,000 BC. Here is a location where the Ganges River flows and for people of Hindu faith this is like going to Israel for Christians and Jews. This is the ultimate pilgrimage for Hindus, who believe that to die in the city is to attain salvation. It is believed by many that bathing in the Ganges results in the remission of sins, and that dying in the holy city circumvents rebirth.
Varanasi has been a cultural center, especially in the field of music, learning, and the craft of slik weaving. Some of most renowned exponents of music have drawn their inspiration from Varanasi.
The city has a unique culture, quite different from other places in the region. This culture has developed through thousands of year. The whole of Varanasi culture revolves around the Ganges river, which is the heart and soul of the city. It even has its own dialect, which is quite different from other dialects of the region.
In this ancient city of pilgrimage, the bathing ghats are the main attraction. People flock here in large numbers ery to bathe and worship in the temples built beside the river bank.
The river flows from north to south and the city forms a circular shape from the Asi Ghat in the south up to the confluence of the Varuna River with the Ganges.
An important part of our visit was a visit to Sarnath. Built in 200 to 30 BC it is a major Buddhist center. It was here that Buddha preached his message of the "middle way" to nirvana after achieving enlightenment. Several Buddhist structures were built here in addition to a very large monument called a Stupa.
The following pictures are from Varanasi and the Ganges.
|Looking toward the temples, places of prayer, and hotels along the Ganges|
|On the river|
|A cremation along the Ganges|
|Holy Man praying along the Ganges|