India – Varanasi

Last weekend I returned from just over two weeks in beautiful North India – what a magical, dusty, awe inspiring time. I met my cousin Shell in Delhi – almost the halfway point between our homes  – her flying in from New Zealand, and me flying from England. We chose to make life a bit easier and maximise opportunities with the limited time we were there, and took a tour with responsible travel operators, Intrepid. This was book-ended with a few days in Delhi either side!

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To get to Varanasi, we took an overnight train from Delhi. It was an interesting affair, with chai wallas calling up and down the carriages and my cousin (I’ll let you take this one on the chin, Shell) getting into a little war of dirty looks with one of our cabin-mates. A great experience nonetheless – I loved the fresh sheets, packaged in paper printed with the train timetable; and drawing the curtains to watch farmers and families get to work at dawn as we rolled towards Varanasi.

Varanasi - Assi Ghat varanasi-boat-buildingvaranasi-washingVaranasi sits on the river Ganges/Ganga, and is considered spiritual capital of India. Birth, life, death. It all happens here on the riverbank. Nothing stops, it just keeps going as it has done for thousands of years. It made me feel so small, with my ‘hectic lifestyle’, the pressing concerns of London life, and of course, the relentless worry about how well some Facebook posts are doing… Interestingly, Varanasi is the place where my phone decided to implode, perhaps due to the heat and dust, leaving me incommunicado from the world for the next two weeks.
Varanasi Ganges Space invaderVaranasi - big stepsOne of the many street dogs I met in India. This puppy and its two siblings were almost irresistible – I was very tempted to scoop them up (plus mama) and take them all home. varanasi-cycle-rickshaw varanasi-heroOne of the many utilitarian ‘Hero’ brand bicycles I saw on my journey. Note the double tube on the frame. This is intended for carrying heavy loads – such as milk pails in the morning, or gas cylinders, which are hooked on the frame.varanasi-cowvaranasi-thaliDelicious ‘special’ thali for ₹300. Plus free air conditioning – bonus! It was around 42°C each day we were there. Somehow it was survivable – perhaps because there was none of the overwhelming humidity that some cities have (I’m looking at you, Auckland). More photos from Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and the village of Tordi to come… Namaste.

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