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India: Varanasi

Herein lies a tale of extremeties in the oldest continually inhabited city on Earth

sunny 50 °C
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Varanasi

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Arrival

The 4 goras on the Vipassana course, Stu, Drew, Roberto and myself - left the centre free and enlightened at 3:15am, bound for Gaya station.
We had nice comfy 2AC seats bound for Varanasi - a 4 hour journey.
When we hit Varanasi, so did the heat. Even hotter than Bodhgaya - 49 degrees!
We found a Rickshaw driver and headed for the old town.

Ancient City (and ridiculously boiling hot in June)

Two things about staying in Varanasi during summer
a) it's fracking hot........ and because of this....
b) the power always goes out.
So, even if you have air conditioning, chances are power will blow, and you'll have a pretty steamy time trying to sleep.

Varanasi is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world - over 7000 years and counting.
It is also one of the holiest places in India. Many people choose to be cremated on the banks of the Ganges river here, and so many of the ghats are stocked with wood piles, and there is a fairly continual stream of men carrying dead bodies (covered and decorated) on stretchers bound of the banks.
It is a fascinating, at times disconcerting place to visit - but an absolute must if you are visiting India.

The dawn boat ride along the ghats of Varanasi was definitely a trip highlight!
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Varanasi is one of those places that is best told by photos.
You can see them[[https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151026131050590.482077.709845589&type=3&l=6663f42e2b| here.]

Blue Lassi

Another recommendation is Blue Lassi! The best lassis I have ever had, and a great place to hang out and meet others. The Vipassana lads and I spent one whole afternoon there - having 3 lassis.
I had a banana/coconut, then apple/mango, then mixed fruit.
Visitors leave passport (or otherwise) photos on the walls. Mine is there with an email address on the back ;-)

If you get chatting with the proprietors you may be offered the special Bang lassi. These are of the hashish infused kind. I had a horrible experience in Amsterdam years ago, so wasn't game, but there were plenty of other travellers enjoying.

Banaras University and Heat Reprieve

It was bloody hot. On my last day, bud Roberto and I went to Banaras University to look around. It is the third largest Uni in the world!
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We then went to one of the posh hotels just outside if the old town to use their pool.
It cost Rp500 each to use the pool, but this also entitled us to have Rp500 worth of food of our choice delivered to our deck chairs - bonus!!

Varanasi was an extreme experience in so many ways - an awesome experience, and a must for India…
now bound for Rishikesh.

Om Shanti friends!

Posted by SkinnyFists 10:32 Archived in India Tagged varanasi

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