Varanasi India June 2015

July 06, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

What a surprise, where were those ceremonies and pilgrim filled ghats? well it looks like there is a direct correlation between religiousness and a tourist based audience.  I saw first hand the reality of a Ganges that was half full suffering the inability of processing all the filth, waste and pyre remains demanded of it on a none stop daily basis.  Having traveled a fair amount over the last few years I was disappointed and amazed with the amount of blatant commercialism surrounding the worn unmaintained holy buildings of the area.  Every known tourist squeeze was used in the Ghat district making even a basic evening walk a trial of patience, hang a camera around your neck and you might as well have a target painted on your shirt. Unless walking with your eyes glued to the next step to avoid animal waste or observing floating dead bodies in the river this is not a good place to be.  In defense of this less than positive review I deliberately traveled during the low/hot season to avoid a grockle (tourist) based infestation however the reality of visiting this area for anything other than an education is unlikely.  Moving around Varanasi itself is as busy as any country I have visited however it works in a haphazard no rules beyond dangerous way, prepare to be scared shitless if you choose to ride a motorised taxi, the way if you have time is by spending a few rupees on the person powered rickshaws giving time to view anything of interest and take a snap or two.  Honestly unless you are truly interested in offering holy Ganges water, marigold garlands and snacks to the deities of the crumbling temples and as the local cuisine is limited to be far I think this area can only be beneficial to staunchest of sixties hippie.  Varanasi on my scale, sorry 0/10.  However you do always chance to meet a couple of decent fellows per trip and this was no exception.  The hotel manager Mr U Po Kyin as I renamed him was as depicted in Orwell's Burmese Days and you would have to meet him to truly appreciate the resemblance, uncanny.  Pablo the hotel chef, odd job and generally nice guy was a joy and nothing was to much trouble, a little treat with my dinner every night, the highlight of an otherwise disastrous trip sadly. And then there was Sanjay Singh my pains making guide who took obsequious to a whole new level, also whether it was buying sweets for the children in the villages, lunch or having an occasional beer on the way home to hotel and trying to slip a packet of cigarettes on the bill when I was in the toilet was just plain hard work.  You need a reason to visit this area of India, I am suggesting it will not be relaxation.  This is my 4th trip to India and the only one I could possibly talk of with a negative head.  Sorry, there it is; in my opinion of course.  Baz

                                   John Lester Griffiths

 

 


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