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A Dosa The Ganges

I apologise for the title!

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We arrived in Varanasi at about 10:30am on the 26th. The overnight train we were on ended up providing me with the best nights sleep I'd had so far, so I was happy. Adam had also slept well, it was a good beginning to this new city.

As has now become our routine, when we arrived we booked our next train ticket, which is to Gorakhpur, on route to Nepal. The trouble we had in Delhi now seems like a distant memory and travelling by train in India really is a trouble free experience.

We found our guest house in a guidebook we bought in Jaipur and as we were in no rush we decided to take a rickshaw there. It ended up being quite a long way and we were weighed down with our backpacks, so we began to feel a little guilty as the poor rickshaw driver struggled in the heat. However as we travelled along we were distracted from these feelings of guilt by Varanasi, and we both commented on how we had good feelings about the place. As we got closer to our guest house these feelings only increased.

The Sahi River View Guest House which is where we stayed was down in Assi Ghat. The Ghats of Varanasi act as access points to the Ganges and we seemed to have stumbled upon an especially quiet one, which really did make change from what India had offered us so far. The guest house itself was hidden down a little alley which added to the peacefulness, it also provided great views over the river from the roof top terrace.
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Despite the better sleep we'd had on the train, we did indulge in an afternoon nap and when we woke we found 'The Cafe at Home' and sampled our first taste of South Indian cuisine in the form of a Dosa which is a very light stuffed pancake, very tasty indeed!

The next day we began to explore Varanasi properly, we had wanted to begin this at about 6am and go and see the people bathe in the Ganges but when we got down to reception we realised we were locked in and couldn't bring ourselves to wake up the staff who were sleeping on the floor. Instead we headed up to the roof and viewed from a distance.
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A little later on we decided to walk from our quiet Ghat up the river towards the centre of Varanasi. The whole way is lined with steps that go up and down and then steeply rise at the sides into the old city.
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During our walk I was almost crushed by a stampede of cows, everywhere you go in India there is always a cow! We walked all the way to the burning Ghat, this is where Hindus come to be cremated and there are huge piles of Sandlewood all around. It is quite a spectacle to behold, and it is one that will have to remain in our memories because you are not allowed to take any pictures.
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We then headed into the old town which is comprised of very narrow alley ways which throb with people. Feeling a little more relaxed in Varanasi we decided that we would do a spot of shopping, so we bought ourselves a scarf each, after a bit of negotiating!
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After that we had another Dosa which cost us the princely sum of around 10p, and then made the long walk back to our guest house.

In the evening we headed down to the river again, we'd read in our guidebook that it is a Hindu tradition to light candles and send them out on to the river on little leaf boats. Immediately we got set upon by some children wanting to sell us these tiny vessels, and stupid old me couldn't resist giving a couple of them an English 2p and penny. Of course then we were surrounded by a whole host of children wanting the same thing and were followed pretty far up the river by one boy in particular. There's nothing quite like saying no to a child fifty times to make you feel bad, even if you know in your heart that you can't help everyone. In the end it turned out that the leaf boats were not really that pretty to look at, there were only a handful of them at different points along the river and they lurked close to the shore where the rubbish gathers. That said the Ganges is far cleaner than I ever expected it to be, although I don't think I could ever be persuaded to go for a dip in it!

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The next day we caught the train to Gorakhpur, which was delayed by about an hour and a half, although as English people we can hardly moan about late running rail services. We arrived at our destination at about 8:30pm and decided to just get a room opposite the railway station because we'd read the buses to the India/Nepal border left from near there. It proved to be a little more tricky than we'd anticipated because most of the hotels were full, we guessed this was because Gorakhpur serves as a transitory place and people just need a conveniently placed bed for the night before they move on. The next morning we were up at 5:30am and on the move again.

We are now in Kathmandu, so once we have had a bit more of an explore I'll let you know what we've been up to.

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 04:43 Archived in India Tagged round_the_world

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