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Varanassi is a city in Northern India located on the banks of the Ganges River.
It is one of the holiest cities in Hinduism – people come here to pray, some to die. It is also an important pilgimage site for Buddhists and Jains.
The city is known for its ghats, the steps that lead down to the river, where people come to bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges.
Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities.
There is plenty of tourist accommodation. WE simply picked ours out of our trusty Lonely Planet guidebook.
Varanassi has a rich cultural heritage and is a major centre for the textile and handicraft industries. We visited several production houses and a silk weaving factory. We also spent some time at the Bandaras Hindu University, one of the largest residential universities in Asia.
The best thing we did in Varanassi was to take an early morning boat ride on the Ganges River. Just us and the boatman drifting beside the ghats. We really saw life as it is lived in Varanassi as it drifted into view through the early morning mist.
A man washing his clothing, a group of women taking a ceremonial bath, the funeral pyres smoking away, a couple of kids doing their family chores, people sitting by the celebrated river contemplating and praying to their God as they have done for centuries.
It was also interesting just wandering the streets. There are regular performances down on the ghats at night – well worth a visit.
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