It's highly recommended to catch a sunset or sunrise in Varanasi. Ideally it's a good idea to take a boat during this time, but it's better to hire someone in advance, otherwise the price will sky rocket to a very high border and it would be really hard to bargain about it. Add that time is on a boat guy side, as you don't want to miss the event.
I wan't going to take a boat at this time anyway, but I couldn't miss the sunrise from hotel roof.
At 5:30 in the morning the city already was almost waked up. And there were a lot of boats on the river.
After an amazing view I returned to the bed to get my well-deserved sleep. After a while we went to the local market.
Looks like the trading goes somehow. At least while it's not too hot yet. I can hardly imagine how these people can spend the entire day from morning to late night over there.
There is a huge problem with souvenirs in Varanasi (and in rest of India as well). It's quite tricky to find magnets. I saw just one or two places in the entire city. And it's impossible to find plates to hang on the wall (I collect both). However you can buy some random stuff you won't need afterwards :)
Varanasi is one of the holiest cities in Hinduism. Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located here. Due to 15-meter golden spire and golden dome it is called as Golden Temple sometimes. That's why military guys guard it around. There are really a lot of them here.
Kashi Vishwanath is an important place in Hinduism, thus people from all over India try to visit it at least once in their life. Thus there is a huge line to the entrance (literally hundreds of meters). Fortunately foreigners can easily enter bypassing the line and save a lot of time. Though keep in mind that any bags are forbidden inside (you can leave it in the locker right next to the entrance), you need your ID (military guys will write down all the info from it) and you have to go there barefoot. To improve athlete's foot disease transfer they put water on the floor, so it's always wet there...
There is a cool song about this temple. Highly recommend.
Next we needed to go somewhere closer to the river. On the way we saw interesting situation: a sales woman from a shop just cleaned the cows shit with bare hands right from the shop door, and right after it she sold a Coca-Cola bottle to a client and she opened the bottle (as was asked by a client) and just in case rubbed the bottleneck with the same hand. And she didn't wash it in between (:
The streets near the river look more like a maze. So it was a bit tricky to find the way to the river.
So it's time to make a boat trip along the river. We spend quite a while to bargain with boat men, so we could get a decent price for a trip.
People have a choice: either rent a motor boat, either an oared one. Of course we picked a motor one. I can hardly imagine how long would it take to make our route on a oared.
Boats sometimes are parked not right on the side, so you have to jump over other boats to get to the right one. It's all a bit shaky, so it's not that hard to fall during yet another jump. Fortunately we got there safe and sound.
The view from the water is much more interesting. Boat trip is a must in Varanasi.
Even Manikarnika Ghat (the one where they burn dead people 24x7) looks absolutely different.
A bit down on the river people take a bath and wash the clothes.
They dry the clothes in a really strange way. They simply put it on the ground and that's it. Why they need to wash it in the first place if they make it dirty right after it? (:
A bit lower they swim together with bulls.
The view is very beautiful.
They love cucumbers a lot. I saw a lot of stand with it. They flay it and eat raw (or make a juice of it). Looks like it's watered good enough and helps from the thirst.
It feels a bit empty on the street in the afternoon. It's much more alive in the night time. People are trying to hide somewhere from the heat.
There is a saying "Varanasi is famous for burning and learning". It's already clear with the dead. In regard of University: a huge territory is occupied by it. Though even there they didn't make a pedestrian zone. Nevertheless there were a lot of buildings and students there. Don't know about education quality though.
I was guessing a lot how all these cows from the street are fed. Well, it looks like some locals feed them, or cows simply eat whatever they find on the street.
It's still very "clean" on the streets..
Well, Varanasi is amazing city. It really worth to visit it.
However it turned out that it's not that easy to get away from here. In the hotel during checkout we were offered a cab to airport in the evening, but we rejected the offer, as we had an impression that it would be overpriced. And in the end it can't be that hard to get a cab on the street.
Airport is about 25-30 kilometers from Varanasi. However it's possible to catch just a rickshaw, which is a bad idea for a long distance. Normal cars are always occupied and there are just a few of them. We tried to use OLA (it's local Uber), but I managed to find a car only after around 20 attempts. Spend half an hour for it.
During attempts we already started to work on other options and tried to get some helps from locals. These guys were funny, but unfortunately they almost didn't speak English. Fortunately OLA gave us a car in the end.
This post has another part here.