And millions of bodies have been cremated on the Ganges. If a poor family can't afford enough wood for fire, there can be chances that the entire body will not be cremated.
Body parts is just one of the many things that lays in the bottom of Ganges.
The locals have a strong belief that the water is holy, and they don't think about the diseases they can get by bathing in this water.
Grab a cup of lassi while you're studying the life in the narrow streets.
Roaming the ghats was probably the most interesting part of my journey to Varanasi. Each ghat is special, aesthetically and spiritually. For example Main Ghat is where they carry out an evening ceremony (starts at 6 pm).
While walking in the ghat alleys, you will also stumble upon dead bodies in a procession. Don't be surprised - it's actually very common in Varanasi.
Varanasi itself is chaotic, and filled with noise and traffic (Old Delhi is worse). So the charm was definitely the ghats :-)
By air: Flights land at Varanasi airport, located 18 km from Varanasi city center. From there you can arrange pre-paid taxis to get into town. The ride takes between 1-1,5 hour. Since we were 6 people traveling together, we paid in total around Rs 850 (this was in March 2011).
I saw two taxi booths, one inside and outside. The most crowded taxi booth was the one outside the entrance of arrival hall. You'll see a man by a wooden table, waiting to book people. Have an address ready, so the taxi driver knows where to drive you.
If you're on a tight schedule, and want to save time by flying, you can check out Kingfisher and Jet Airways. Both fly in and out of Varanasi. I've tried both and recommend both.
From downtown to Varanasi airport I paid Rs 500 for a taxi. It was arranged through Hotel Surya.
By train: Varanasi connects with major cities like Delhi (12-17 hours), Agra (13-14 hours), Jaipur (17,5 hours), Calcutta (14-26 hours), Allahabad (3-4 hours), Patna (4-7 hours), New Jalpaguiri (16 hours - if you're heading for Darjeeling) and so on. The duration depends on which train you take. Express trains are the most efficient ones.
Don't know where to stay for the night in Varanasi?
Here are reviews of the accommodation I tried in the city!
Looking for a place to eat in Varanasi?
Here the ones we tried!
What are the typical things to do in Varanasi?
Get lost in the ghats and take a boat trip on Mother Ganges!
Here's our experiences from the boat trip on Ganga River; witnessing the Ganges river pollution.
Other pages you'll enjoy:
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