We finally arrived at the station to which we were getting off at around 7:30 am and to our relief, this arrival time was some what earlier than had been expected. We boarded some Tuk Tuks that took us to our hotel, this was a pretty uncomfortable and bumpy ride but we were happy enough to get off of the sleeper train. Once we reached our hotel me and Alex decided to go for a sleep due to the lack of sleep the previous night which was a God sent as it prepared us for the rest of the day.
Our day officially started at 12:30, we headed for lunch at a restaurant that only severed vegetarian foods due to it being situated in a Hindu area.
Following a pretty amazing lunch that included little dishes such as hummus and falafel, we got into a rickshaw that took us towards the river bank.
A rickshaw is similar to a Tuk Tuk, however, the driving is done through cycling which definitely makes you feel a bit worse for the driver as you debate if you're too heavy for him to be able to ride you such a distance on uneven roads although, he seemed to be doing alright. We soon picked up some speed racing another two people from our group that were in their rickshaw. (We lost the race due to traffic)
Once we reached the steps leading down to the Ganges we saw masses of people heading to view this area and to prayer by the river as well as swim in it. Walking through the little streets beside the Ganges as well as along the river front we were amazed to witness such happiness and contentment from those surrounding us.
As we got further up the river we came to the point where people's bodies are cremated. The piles of logs were enormous and cover up many parts of the roads. The fires were situated on the steps that lead down to the Ganges next to one of the many chapel like buildings along this front.
We also got to witness the families bringing down the bodies towards to steps in order to be cremated.
The bodies were carried on a stretcher and covered with gold drapes and they also had someone at the front dropping flower petals for the body to be carried over.
While watching these occurrences I became curious as to why there were no women within this ceremonies or following behind the body as the men had been.
I later found out that Women are seen as soft souls and hearts and that they should not witness their loved ones burning as this would be too much for them to handle so instead they do the parts of the ceremony that is at home rather than being a part of this one.
Varanasi is classed as one of the oldest cities still standing within Indian and the world.
The streets were incredibly narrow and the number of animals walking along the streets multiplied massively compared to that of Delhi however it shone as a much calmer natured city.
This city, therefore, has one of the oldest Lassie shops in which to have the drink. A Lassie is somewhat like a yoghurt and isn't necessarily completely hot or completely cold but instead round about room temperature.
Me and Alex didn't fancy that but Alex did try some of the ones from the people within the groups and said it had a very rich texture but could be nicer if it was cooler.
They normally come with different fruits of your choice mixed into it and is made on the surface outside of their shop.
Following this experience, we weaved our way through market ridden streets and then came across a silk shop to which we were to stay till our next activity later on.
We were able to learn the differences between the real silks and the fake and some of the group members bought scarfs or even bed covers.
(When real silk is burnt it smells and looks the same as when you burn hair. Fake silk smell like burnt paper and melts like plastic.)
The stuff was pretty spectacular to see and feel, however, the use for the stuff was limited and highly priced so we stirred away from these and went to look down below in the market streets. Alex managed to purchase two bracelets within our short 10-minute walk however due to the cheap prices it would have been stupid not to.
Once we returned to the silk shop and our guide we headed for the evening ceremony on the Ganges river.
We boarded a boat so that we were seated away from the massive crowds that formed around the five priests performing the ceremony.
This was once again an amazing experience as we got to witness the extent to which religion is the centre of Indian life and a number of people gathered on boats and on the land were incredible.
(Almost reminding me of Titanic as all the boats were piled on)
The ceremony is also performed along the river at different sections in order to allow more people to attend. Once this had come to an end the boat drove us along the river getting to see all the amazing architectural buildings that settled on the side of the river and the many different people walking along.
Once we came to a stop by the shore we lit off our candles which we had bought earlier on. The candle was placed on a bed of flowers within a cup like a holder and symbolised a wish. As you set them free you make a wish.
All in all, this was a pretty amazing and cultural day as we got to witness other people's religions as well as the way to which they treat the dead and their daily lives along The Ganges.