Wednesday, March 23, 2016

2016 Grand World Voyage, Day 78, Varanasi, India Part 2

Varanasi, also known as Kashi and Banaras is one of the most ancient and religious cities in India and known as the oldest living city in the world.  The city is located on the banks of the holy Ganges River and the birthplace of Hinduism.   Ann and Cathy & I left the hotel by 5:30 a.m. to be on the Ganges for sunrise.  Our driver dropped us of so we were able to walk to the river.  What a day to be in Varanasi.....the entire day is the celebration for Holi, also known as the festival of colors is a wild & chaotic atmosphere with dousing colored powder and water and turned out to be one big colorful better time to witness the colorful culture and sensory overload which is the nature of India.  Our sunrise cruise was a splendid representation of the Indian culture.  We lit candles and offered prayers for family and friends and just took in the sites from Dasashwamedh Ghat to Manikarika Ghat.  Many pilgrims come here to perform a variety of ritual bathing and religious activities.  After breakfast we decided to take to the streets to see the revelers.....huge mistake....we were the target of colored water was ok for our throw away clothes but not my camera!  All part of the experience.  Lesson learned.....We returned to the hotel until our driver picked us up later in the day for a visit to Sarnath.  Sarnath is a sacred Buddhist City where Buddha preached his first sermon under the Bodhi tree.  Inside the temples frescos portray the life of Buddha from the 3rd Century.  Again we returned to the Ganges for the Aarti sunset candle ceremonies.  Aarti is devotional ritual using fire and flowers and small offerings are given to the Goddess of Ganga.  As like this morning we took a small row boat just before dark and had plenty of aarti to make a wish and float down the Ganges.  This ritual happens every day but is intense and magical experience when you turn and see the tiny aarti floating away in the distance you’ll understand why, what an intense experience with the drumming, chanting, singing, fire and strong incense as well as the huge crowds of people who have travelled from all over India and the world to witness the holy ceremony.  Great day, I absolutely love India!!!!  That could explain why I have visited this magnificent place 3 times....  There will be 4 to 5 blogs for today’s activities....  Time to start posting!  This is part 2...

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