Day 41 – SATURDAY 28th February 2015
A one and half hour flight from Delhi took us to Varanasi. The city is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, over 5000 years. And it looks it!
The streets are narrow, dirty, smelly and terribly overcrowded. The main income earner for the are is the spiritual pilgrimage of Hindus for dip in the Ganges or being cremated along its banks.
We stayed at the Radisson Hotel which, according to their web site, is one of the finest 5 star hotels in the city. Well, in our opinion, 5 star is stretching it. The hotel is old, tired and smells of urine (but that could be the smell wafting in from outside!).
At sunset we went for a boat ride on the Ganges to see the funeral pyres which are lit along the banks in specified areas run by the Untouchables (the lowest cast of Indians). Apparently, in spite of this title, they are doing well financially since there are over 300 cremations per day every day of the year. They get well paid for the service and are entitled to sift the ashes for melted jewellery that is often left on the bodies. We stayed on the boat tied up to the steps and watched the evening performance by the Hindu priests.