Varanasi is possibly the most interesting Indian city I’ve seen yet, but the only really interesting part about the city is the Ganga and the ghats lining it. Otherwise, it is Delhi and Fatehpur combined into one chaotic hurricane of people, animals and trash (and the smell is multiplied a hundredfold).
The riverbank is crawling with people– stoned sadhus and fervent hindus, camera-wielding tourists, beggars and hippies alike– and the trash in the holy Ganges floats slowly downstream. Though the crowds are biggest in the morning, people take baths at any time of day, even if there’s a herd of yak lowing just a few yards upstream.
2 days, and though I’ve seen a lot of spirituality, I felt none of it. Because I was too busy dodging piles of cow dung (TWICE I missed) and bicycle-wallahs.
The Kumbah Mela festival just finished, so the city was FULL. We spent 3 hours looking for a hotel room our first nite–plenty of rooftop floors available, though– and ended up sleeping for free in a sadhu boarding house of sorts. The only price paid was a pair of briefly-fondled boobs, but that’s a story for another time. We were quick to relocate to a hotel, a nice one with a garden and free wifi, and every morning thereafter we spent a few leisurely moments in the restaurant garden, away from the riotous energy that is Varanasi.