India: Holiness of Varanasi and Darjeeling

“In India, when people die we don’t cry. Only our heart cries… It is not like you people from the west…!” Those words were from a guy that prepares the fire to cremate dead people on the margins of the Ganga
Varanasi was an experience, we already knew that it would be intense! It is one of the oldest cities on Earth and it’s also considered the holy city of India.
In Hindu religion, when people die they are mostly cremated, and Varanasi is the city for that. There are bodies burning by the river every day, all day long. And you can reach this ceremony just by walking through some of the gaths. There’re also many people bathing in holy Ganga to purify themselves, and of course, people doing their laundry in the river (classic!).

One of the gahts where the cremation happens

Varanasi was really busy, noisy, the dirtiest city we’ve ever been so far and with so many smells from the street food, spices, incense and flowers! Also, there are cows, goats, dogs and even monkeys on the streets… Either eating the trash or leaving some trash behind.

It’s so sad to see this…

Tuk tuk ride!

We stayed close to Assi Gaht, which I wasn’t so dirty and not so busy! We could seat there and stay for hours just watching people around! And on the last evening we took a tour by boat to pass by all the gaths and watch the ceremonies.

Colorful Assi Gaht

Assi Gaht

Night ceremony…

One day was enough to get the feeling of the place, visit the gaths and well… get food poisoned! I was already celebrating that we’re about to leave India with no upset stomach at all! Well, it happened! :S
We took a night train plus a 3 hour jeep ride to go all the way up to Darjeeling. The city is on the Himalayas at a 2,000 meters elevation. It’s a small and cozy city, with a large Tibetan community, famous for its tea industry and for the “Toy Train“. This railway is one of the few steam locomotives in the world and Unesco World Heritage site as well.

We stayed for 5 days in an amazing hotel called Dekeling. The place is runned by a friendly Tibetan family, it’s the cleanest hotel we stayed in India and has the best view of the Himalayas!

Himalayas view from our hotel

So we basically relaxed at the hotel, went out to eat (they have the best Momo there), visited the Happy Valley Tea plantation, went on te Toy Train ride, visited the zoo and took a ride on a “rope car”, which took us to a small village passing over large tea plantations!

Women working on tea collection

Toy train ride

We really enjoyed Darjeeling but now we can’t wait for our next destination: Thailand!! Actually we’re going to spend one night in Kolkata, where we’ll take a flight from… But that will be just one day and we’ll take this time to say good-bye to India… We’re so tired, but looking back the past month we realize what a great experience we had on getting to know this incredible country!!!

Time to say good-bye to INCREDIBLE INDIA!

See you guys in Thailand!! 🙂


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