If You’re In Varanasi, A Boat Tour On The Ganges River Is A Must.
Last summer, we (again) started our long vacation trip in New Delhi before heading to Varanasi and continuing further East. India is one of these countries you just can’t get enough of. Plus of course, you could spend your entire live travelling through it and still not see it all. It was already our second visit to Varanasi – the holiest city in Hinduism, as well as Buddhism and Jainism – and it surly wouldn’t be our last one …
Once in every lifetime an observant Hindu hopes to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Varanasi. Some come to wash away sickness and sin in the Ganges River. Others bring their dead to be burned. Still others come to live their last days here, for to die and be cremated in Varanasi guarantees eternal release from the cycle of birth and death.
After a few hours of walking upstream to the outskirts of the city, we decided to take a boat and float downstream. A boat ride along the Ganges river is one of the absolute musts when visiting Varanasi. You have to negotiate the price a little bit because boats are in high demand and many tourists spoil the rates. One boatman offered us a very good price immediately and as it turned out, he had to bring his mother to the doctor at the other side of the town anyway. Good for him and good for us :)
He really knew every building and had a very good knowledge about all the gossip happening in Varanasi. Many owners of the huge buildings along the river live somewhere else in more fashionable areas because for them, the city too busy and too old-fashioned. They rent out their fortresses and only come occasionally to collect the money.
Many of the buildings are (sort of) retirement homes for people who come to Varanasi for their final time because a seat in heaven is guaranteed if you die here. What’s really fascinating is that even though death is part of the daily routine for all the people here, it’s still a place of hope and colours. Especially the colours of the buildings along the ghats are eye dropping.
All in all, Varanasi truly is a fantastic place with lots of amazing photo opportunities, friendly people and yummy food. It’s one of these cities every traveller should visit at least once in a lifetime.