We’ll have a sunrise boat tour to enjoy the pictures from the
early activity of this city on Ganges River, then, we should visit all
our missing spots of this city until the time to get the airport, as
our flight to Kolkata leaves at 5:50 PM.
About two hours later we’ll arrive to the second
biggest city in India, formerly known as Calcutta.
As scheduled since yesterday, we are by hotel desk
at 5:30 AM for our boat ride. It is supposed to be a morning ride but
it is still too dark. We must not pay anything here as it is included
in the tour we’ve hired for today.
We get into the rowboat and see how the dawn begins to get
light to the magnificent Varanasi’s riverside to Ganges. There are
still offerings floating on Ganges and the shore across the river,
which is basically a sand flat big area, is where the festival
activities have been taken place, as fireworks and crackers, all night
long and are still on.
We go down the river until the crematory ghat Harishchandra.
People’s worships to the river are frenetic at this early time of the
day and is focused in specific ghats, while others are quite empty.
We keep getting pictures of everything as we’re
feeling this as a very special moment, with beautiful landscapes.
The boatman takes us up until Manikarnika and there it turns
around back to the hotel, to finish this wonderful trip. The ride has
been exactly one hour.
We have around three hours for taking our
breakfast, get the baggage ready and rest in our nice room before
checking out and leaving for the rest of our tour.
We’ve taken the one day tour even knowing we cannot complete
but, with the 15% discount for being two persons, is even cheaper than
the half day tour and we can ask to be taken to the airport after
lunching. It’s weird; I guess sooner or later they’ll review these
At 9:30 AM we’re at desk for check out: it’s 3500 Rs by room, 800 Rs by
airport pick up and 2380 Rs by tour for two persons.
When our young guide arrives, around 10 AM, we follow him and the two
hotel boys carrying our bags over their heads by the narrow streets of
the Old City until the roundabout where the car is waiting for us.
The first visit, and the furthest one, is to Banaras Hindu University.
Here we find a clean and large campus, with lots of green areas. Our
guide tells this uses to be a very busy place, except for a few days in
the year, but today, the day after Diwali, is one of them.
Inside the campus we get out from the car to visit the New Vishwanath
Temple, a pink building with a tall central tower. We buy an offering
made of flowers by 20 Rs and take off our shoes to get into a white
hall with small square fenced area in the middle with a silver metal
cobra in it. There are some people around, but only one inside the
fenced area, which seems to be the priest of Shiva, the God this temple
is dedicated to. This priest cleans the flowers on the top of the cobra
with the water from a hose to take our offering and put it over it.
Pictures are not allowed inside.
Back to the car, with our shoes in our feet again,
we leave for the next visit: Bharat Mata Temple.
Before reaching the entrance we can see a man seat
on the floor with two monkeys customized and trained to do anything for
money. The small one as so lovely we cannot avoid giving it a bill,
which is quickly delivered to its master. We hate we love it, life is
full of paradoxes.
This temple is dedicated to Mother India, the
Goddess as personification of the country: Bharat Mata. It is a square
based building with the center occupied by a huge relief of Indian
subcontinent all made in marble. There is even a subway to get a “sea
level” view of the country. It is needed to take off your shoes to get
in here too.
The next is our last visit: Durga Temple, also
known as Monkey temple. How many temples are here with that name? As
the other Monkey temples, it is dedicated to Monkey God Hanuman and
monkeys are free all around. Pictures are not allowed and our guide
asks us to leave the cameras in the car.
The pass way as entrance allows the visitant to
interact with the monkeys then we must leave our shoes to visit the
inside. As we already noticed the previous days, orange is the color
for this God and it is all around here, in the walls and the objects.
If that is not enough, there are places to take some orange powder to
be able of make orange any other thing. The visit is quick and we go
back to the car.
Before going to
lunch we must pay the price for this cheap tour: the stop in a silk
factory. There we’re quickly shown the room where the looms are, which
is empty today due to Diwali, and we’re taken to the store to choose
what we’re going to buy. But we don’t want anything, and even less at
those prices, so the visit finishes here and we can go to lunch.
We’re taken to a very good looking place, with
luxury, which seems to belong to some hotel. The place is huge and
there is a lot of staff, which is weird when we’re alone. Even with
that, the food is taking its time, as in anywhere else here. Our guide
orders dome French fries with ketchup which insists he must pay apart
in spite of we are willing to include it in our bill. We pay 1400 Rs
for our two dishes lunch and dessert.
Here is where the guide says good bye and we’re
left with the driver, which take us to the small Varanasi airport. Just
in the entrance to the airport we must pass a security control where
all our baggage is scanned. Then, there is a passport control to get
into the area with the check in desks. There is just a small row of
desks, though, for only four airlines. JetKonnect/Jet Airways one is
When they open it we’ve already checked the few shops in
the hall and purchased some boxes of typical Diwali sweets to bring to
home. Before checking in we must pass the bags through a scanner of the
company, there the bags get a stamp and only then they can be checked
There is another security control more, the classic one to access to
the boarding gates area. We must put some tags in every piece of cabin
baggage and they get the stamp in a similar way than we made for the
big bags before.
We keep waiting for our flight, this time in front of the
boarding gate and, when it is the time, we occupy our seats in the
small plane is going to take us to Kolkata (Calcutta) in less than two
hours. The arrival is unforgettable for us because to the typical view
of a city from the sky by night, with all its lights as stars in the
land, we can see fireworks in different areas of the city. When the
plane turns we can have an overhead view of the near city with the
colorful explosions between the buildings.
Kolkata airport we follow the local people to see how the most of them
are joining to a couple of lines in a desk with the police shield on
the top. It seems this is for the secure taxis: we’re charged 280 Rs
after saying our destination and get a paper with our data, copied over
the paper behind.
We still follow the other people
to see how they go across the street to a stand with the same shield on
the top and go to there. We deliver the paper, they keep one copy and
give the other to us, assign a car to us and talk to the driver. I can
read in my copy we must not pay anything else, so it seems we’ve found
out the best way to leave the airport.
There is a terrific traffic jam in the city which
allows us to look around when we pass through the festivals, with the
lights in the streets and decorations with mythological icons.
We’re finally delivered in our luxury hotel, which we only
leave to walk to the ATM for cash and then check if we can get a closer
look of a festival, but don’t find any. We’ll have our dinner in the
terrace of the hotel restaurant thinking we should get dome mosquito
repellent for this evening.