The Ganges and Varanasi
As dawn gathers, so begins the worship. Thousands assemble daily to bathe in the waters of the Ganges at Varanasi, India’s holiest Hindu city. Hindus regard the Ganges as amrita, the elixir of life, and onboard a boat is the best way to take in the extraordinary spectacle. There in front of you, lining the great riverfront’s steps are the worshipful; Brahmins recite passages of sacred texts and priests dispense holy ash to mark pilgrims’ foreheads; gatherers meditate or practise yoga while flower-sellers and food stalls hawk their wares, and sacred bulls and cows roam. And behind this seemingly unrepeatable-yet-daily-occurrence, the city looks on, a beautiful jumble of grand palaces, temples and piled-high houses, cast gold in the morning light and inviting exploration. Millennia of tradition and veneration have given Varanasi a truly unique, otherworldly character, and today make it one of India’s most interesting cities to discover.