Varanasi is quite cool. Even in a place as mind-bendingly diverse, impenetrable and beautiful as India, it still stands out. My brother’s experiences there are far more interesting than my own – do read about them here.
I variously drifted between blissful joy (meditation and stretching), serene calm (an early morning walk), violent dry-retching (there is crap – human and animal, plastic and vegetable – everywhere), and angry screaming (in my head, anyway) for people to ‘not put that water in your MOUTH!’. The last near-outburst brought on by people swimming, washing clothes, bathing and brushing their teeth literally metres from dead bodies and sewerage outlets. And, yes, I did actually see the dead body of what I estimated to be an overweight 40 year old man, half-burnt, drifting slowly downstream.
Obviously, Varanasi is a must-see. And, despite the confronting nature of the visuals and people, I would suggest it is a ‘must-feel’. I perceived an absolutely remarkable sense of underlying calm and spiritual depth which somehow got through all the other madness.
Here are some photos taken along the ghats, more on the Picasa site here.