Day 7 (October 23, 2014)   Varanasi: Diwali


   This is Diwali day. After our early flight, which should make us arrive to Varanasi at 10:25 AM, we’ll explore Varanasi ghats and temples enjoying this city in so special day. We’ll get a boat tour by night to see the lights of the city from Ganges River.

Varanasi map

   The spots marked at map are:

 0- Hotel Alka
 1- Ghat Dasaswamedh
 2- Ghat Marnikarnika
 3- Ghat Scindhia
 4- Ghat Man Mandir
 5- Ghat Munshi
 6- Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple
 7- Shri Kashi Visalakshi Temple


   We pay the 1500 Rs hotel asks us for a private taxi to the airport. It is expensive but we want to get there as soon as possible and they’ve advanced breakfast time only for us, so we take our breakfast at 6:30 AM and leave at 7 AM.

   We reach Varanasi as scheduled and hotel’s staff is waiting for us at the airport. The trip to the hotel has two stages: by car from airport to Old City and, once there, by foot, following two boys carrying our bags over their heads, through the make made by this narrow and busy streets to the hotel.

Alka Hotel by the Ganges River

   We must wait our room is ready, so we enjoy the views to Ganges they have and decide to take our lunch now in the meantime. This is a veg restaurant, but we’re already used to this Indian food so good. It is cheap too as we pay 387 Rs in total. Then, the room is delivered to us. As all rooms in our booked category are busy we get the only room in better category, which is amazing.

Our room at Alka HotelGanges views from Alka Hotel

   After a short rest we leave the hotel for a walk. Our idea is walking through these streets to the Nord and coming back by the riverside and ghats, where we can find the hotel easily.

   We join these busy and small streets which make people know it is Diwali using decorations similar to the ones we use for Christmas. There are also a lot of people shopping, sweets mainly, and we stop by a store to get a box of one of each sort of sweets to taste them all.

Streets of Old VaranasiDiwali decoration on Varanasi streets

   This is really a maze and we must ask several times to know where the river is as we can easily lose directions in the middle of this chaotic organization for streets.

Streets of Old VaranasiWe cannot take this way

   When we go down to the river – as the entire city is a level up to the river in order of being saved from its rises – it looks like we are at the very North and walk South along the river through the ghats looking for a sign to know our position.

Bohnsale Ghat
Scindhia GhatTripurabharavi Ghat

   This sign comes with the cremations where the piles of wood and the bodies on fires point we’re in Manikarnika. I expected worst smell here, but it is like firewood.

Manikarnika, creamtion GhatManikarnika, creamtion Ghat

   We keep walking through the ghats and looking their inhabitants: gurus, vendors, boatmen, cows, goats and people in religious fervor. We reach our hotel quicker than expected, so we just keep walking a little bit more until the most crowded ghat: Dasaswamedth.

Vacas en los ghatsGhat Dasaswamedh

   This is the place where the ceremony Aarti is performed. It is a Hindu worship to Ganga River and it is performed every day at 6:30 PM. We take the offer from hotel desk for having a boat by 70 Rs per person and hour.

   We spend the time until Aarti on exploring the Northern gaths, the same we’ve just explored by walking, including the cremations.

Diwali night in Varanasi
Cremations in ManikarnikaDiwali night in Varanasi

   Lights give a magical look to the buildings at river shores against the darkness and calm of the river, where we are. Now, Diwali lights are joining to the usual. The festival is here and we want to be part of it. We’ve bought an offering to a girl which is a floating recipient with some flowers and a candle on it, and we light it and leave it on the river to let it join with all the others bringing light to the water too.

Diwali night in Varanasi

   Across the river, there is a huge deserted sand area, but tonight is where the fireworks and crackers activity is taking place mainly.

   A lot of boats are concentrating in front of Dasaswamedh Ghat looking for a place to watch the Aarti ceremony. It takes one hour, but we spend 30 minutes before asking the boy for coming back to the hotel.

Aarti ceremony at Dasaswamedh Ghat
Aarti ceremony at Dasaswamedh GhatAarti ceremony at Dasaswamedh Ghat

  This beautiful night boat ride ends with 150 Rs and we go to sleep with the thunder from the crackers, which won’t stop in the entire night. Tomorrow we must be ready at 5:30 AM for another boat ride.

Traditional Diwali lampHeart made with Diwali lamps