We got to sleep in today! All the way to 830. After some long days it felt nice indeed. We were met by Vinod our guide for the day and off we went to see some more temples.
The first one was Kashi Vishwanath temple or the Golden temple. It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, built in 1780. Contains a Jyotirlinga (devotional object or sign) of Shiva. It’s on the Benaras Hindu University grounds which were quite beautiful.
There is a statue of Nandi, who is Shiva’s tranport. The legend states you can whisper one wish into his ear and it will come true. We both tried it, why not?
Varanasi is also called Benares and Kashi. Said to be the oldest city in the world (3000 years). The abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
We did a drive by of one other temple. Non Hindus are not allowed in as we might eat cows and are considered dirty.
Last one for the morning part of the day was Bharat Mata. The only temple dedicated to Bharat Mata, or Mother India. She is the national personification of India as a mother goddess. She is an amalgam of all the goddesses of Indian culture and more significantly of goddess Durga. She is usually depicted as a woman clad in a saffron sari holding Indian national flag, and sometimes accompanied by a lion. The temple does not contain the customary gods and goddesses, but rather a marble relief map of India. Kind of like the map of BC at the PNE. Pretty cool to see the whole country topography depicted by 762 hand carved tiles.
Everest is quite close to India. Funny that may be a trip that we do in the next couple years. We are so close now!
This valley in the Himalayas where the headwaters of the Ganges come from. This is why the river is so sacred. Waters come from heaven.
We then went back to the hotel for a rest. 5pm we were back out to see the Ganges river, the cremation ceremonies performed on the banks and an Aarti ceremony. These are Hindu ceremonies using the 5 elements. Earth, Wind, Fire, and Space.
We first toured the Ghats. A Ghat is a series of steps leading down to a body of water, particularly a holy river. In ths case the Ganges. There are 84 ghats. There are 12 astrological signs with 7 chakras. That makes 84. There is no rule that says you have to go to one or the other.
The walk down to the river was through some streets. Loud, busy and “the real India” according to our guide.
Ganges river water being taken out and back to a temple or home.
Cricket is played everywhere here by kids.
The Ghats themselves. Or at least one of them. And yes there are cows here too.
People can purchase little wax candles and let them free for wishes.
Then it was a boat ride down the river to where the cremations take place. They can do 20 or so here. Each pyre takes 360kg of sandalwood. The process is quite respectful and efficient. Each one of the fires in the below shot is a cremation. They do them 24 hours a day here. Usually 4-6 hours after death.
Then it was back up river to see an Aarti Ceremony.
There are about 2000 people watching.
And you really need to see it in person to fully appreciate. A couple of short video shots to show the cacaphony and feeling.
Tomorrow we start the long journey home. We fly Varanasi to Delhi in the afternoon. We have a hotel to relax in for a few hours. Then at the lovely hour of 230am we’re off to Frankfurt. We hope to kill the 6 hour layover there by taking a train downtown and back. So we may yet have more touring to do!
I’ll do a final summation with more pictures once we get home.