The Holy City of Varanasi…
As I continue on my journey through India, I am reminded once again of the good and not so good India has to offer. Several times I was refused a taxi ride to the train station. The security guard at my residence tried with all his might to get me a taxi and then finely he found me one although he wanted to charge me 500INR. At that point I didn’t care if he wanteoou ps 500 or 5000 I needed to be on that train. So with a covered meter we were literally off like a bat out of hell, I truly wish I recorded it because I can not even describe what rush hour traffic looks like let alone trying to get through it on a very very minimal time line… but we made it… literally sat in my seat and three minutes later the train departed… Good Bye Kolkata.
On the train I wasn’t sure what to expect. I am in a berth, with three beds, A/C blowing as always, and a good amount of people. As people come by offering different things I ask a nice young lady in front of me what is being offered (I assume she speaks english cause the book she is reading appears to be in english… this makes me happy). We get chatting and she is such a happy person and we appear to have a lot in common, and talk and laugh for the two hour journey until she departs. I giver her my FaceBook details and I am excited to keep in touch…
My berth is all set up for my journey, and I even took a selfie in the bathroom (that ones for you Jacob… I had to cover my mouth cause it was STANKY) ugh…. (on a side note India hasnt stunk as bad as everyone says… in some spots here and there ya but over all not to bad…
Varanasi has actually been one of my favourite places, it much calmer than Kolkata, and although there is no lack of touts and stares… the history in this city goes back to a time before Christ. It is amazing to see that some buildings are still standing from the early 16th century and earlier.
I stayed in a Homestay and although it was slightly pricy (on an Indian standard) it was totally worth it. Mr.Harish managed everything for me from the tours to even getting my train ticket organized, he even organized my quick tour of Agra, before hoping on my train to Amritsar. He was located only a short walk to the Main Ghat (Assi Ghat) where we enjoyed the evening fire festival.
I did a morning boat ride down the Ganges river and watched the sun rise. It was magical, the river, the city, they were so peaceful. People were walking down to the river to preform there morning rituals, meditations and setting up to complete the laundry for the day. Some shops were starting to open and the tea stalls were almost ready with the morning Chai. My tour guide then took me on an alley walk where we negotiated the labyrinth of alleys and streets. Thank goodness I was with someone because there would be no way I could find my way back.
A overnight train ride which by the way I was offered bootlegged beer on the train, and being a good Irish girl I had to accept, although I was totally ripped off it was the thrill. Rolling in 1st class, drinking bootlegged beer in Varanasi…Checked off my bucket list!!
Once in Agra I was only left me with only one day to explore the city so I hired a driver and a tour guide and got to business. He was very knowledgeable about the city and its monuments. Although I know I got “scammed” I was happy he took me to a jewelry place as I got two very beautiful necklaces (one for my mum) 🙂
The Taj Mahal is a spectacular site to see in person and pictures do it no justice. The inlaid marble detail with semi precious and precious stones, the writing from the Koran, the pure size and construction of this monument is breathtaking. It is to bad that you are rushed through the building and given very little time to take it all in. However I am glad I have got to see this wonder of the world, and I do recommend it all.
Agra Fort was another historical site that I visited, built over 100 years, it has a lot of beauty and wonder to it. I always think what it would be like to be back in time when all these beautiful old cities were vibrant and new, when they were full of life (and war). How people acted, what they dressed. India has got my imagination going, and dreaming. So much left to see in the country and I look forward to coming back and exploring some more. Maybe when its not so hot. 🙂 Not that I am complaining lol
Well with the two beautiful cities of Varanasi and Agra under my belt it was another 12+ train ride to the holy city of Amritsar.
Pictures below are of my Varanasi and Agra adventure… (bathroom picture is for you Jacob, up we were correct the toilets empty onto the tracks… there is a sign that says not to use the facilities while the train is stopped at the station… let me tell you it is not easy for a gal to use the toilet while the train is in motion) lol
Oh Jodi, I think I may have found a potential husband, my tour guide in Varanasi? What do you think? lol
Peace and Love.