Adventurous Arrival in Varanasi

If you read  you may remember that our departure from Delhi was a bit adventurous, to say the least. Instead of Khajuraho we decided to fly to Varanasi and this was decided two hours before the flight’s take off. We do regret skipping Khajuraho, the site of famous erotic temples, but will certainly do it next time.

Flying toward Varanasi, the holy Hindu city along the Ganger River made me a bit nervous. I tried to get a glimpse of the sacred river from the airplane, but it got dark too soon. Seeing the Ganges River would have in some strange way assured me (of what?).SpiceJet from Delhi to VaranasiUpon landing we got talking to a young Indian man, living in the US, who had brought his grandmother to Varanasi. He started making phone calls to different hotels (we all agreed that the point of staying in Varanasi is to be located by the river). We got two rooms at Scindia Guest House, recommended by Eyewitness India Guidebook, and jumped into a taxi. Varanasi, here we come!

The ride to the guest house was long and polluted. It reminded me of Hyderabad –a fantastic city in many ways but oh so bad in pollution! We must have driven for more than an hour and the Ganges was still hiding from me. Suddenly the car stopped and the driver pointed “walk that way”. We were puzzled and asked which way exactly…. After some negotiation he agreed to show us the way, and we begun a 30-minute walk.Cows in VaranasiI don’t know how you say cow shit in a polite way, so excuse my language, but as we were walking and pulling our luggage, I did wonder if local laundry service would accept to clean our by-now-very-colorful-luggage. Don’t we all just love cows? But what would India be without them?

Eventually, after turning about 500 times left and right (we would have NEVER found the guest house alone) we arrived. Scindia Guest House stood there, right in front of the Ganges River, as Eyewitness had promised. It looked very run down, but we had no choice. It was very dark and very late. My husband and I got a river-side room and ordered two rice plates. Scindia Guest HouseWe were told to be careful when opening the balcony door because apparently “the monkeys like to come inside if you leave the door open”. Wow. Imagine waking up next to a monkey! Or two! I was still feeling a bit sick but the idea of monkeys excited me. Little I knew that upon our arrival the monkeys had already been watching me from all over.

After a well-rested night I visited the balcony but the monkeys were nowhere. All I could see was the majestic Ganges River. Varanasi, the Ganges RiverMeanwhile my husband went to the reception. This is when I started hearing screaming noises. Is someone being killed was my first thought. I opened the front door and I saw them: monkeys and more monkeys! There was a metal fence between me and them, which was good because they were big and did not look happy. Some of them were in the middle of their beauty treatments.Monkeys in VaranasiI joined my husband at the reception and had a chat with one of the hotel workers. I thought that his features were very different from other “Indian” features that I had seen before. Mentality wise he felt different, too, and somehow I felt closer to Calcutta. I was definitely visiting a new region, witnessing once again the diversity of India. Man in VaranasiThe moment I tried to go outside of the hotel, this elderly gentleman warned me “please be very careful of the monkeys”. Scared but curious I took a careful look outside and everywhere I looked (left, right, straight, down, above) there were monkeys. Not only entire monkeys but also monkey arms and legs hanging above the door etc.

For several reasons (monkeys, lack of a proper restaurant and customers, run-down building, etc.) we decided to move to another hotel. After negotiating a water taxi we said good bye to Scindia Guest House and moved to Alka Hotel, also located by the river. Later on we were told that Scindia Guest House had illegally built more rooms (and a terrace for the restaurant), and that the local authorities had torn a large part of the construction down. This explained the sad look. Scindia Guest HouseAfter a rough start we learned to love Varanasi. We spent a total of five nights there, exploring Hinduism and Buddhism. We loved the old town –one of the most charming old towns I have ever seen, and felt that Varanasi is indeed inhabited by many old souls.

In fact, Varanasi left such an impression on me that I will definitely write more about it. When the time is right.

Other posts about Varanasi:

Second part of the trip begins in Varanasi

 

35 thoughts on “Adventurous Arrival in Varanasi

      1. Miia Post author

        No worries. It is good to hear there is an audience for these stories 🙂

        This is not going to be encouraging, but I visited Angkor last year and still haven’t written a “full analysis”. It is difficult to grab the “whole story” of places like Angkor and Varanasi. Sometimes a simple photo reportage becomes sufficient…

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      2. SalvaVenia

        Indeed, there are some places very difficult to be transcended into words … And in such moments the old saying really can be applied: a picture is worth a thousand words.

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      3. Miia Post author

        Yes.. correct.

        But as I was writing the Varanasi story today, I realized how important (to me at least) it is to put it in writing. Otherwise one forgets the ideas and thoughts. There are always so many funny stories, like monkeys coming to the room, one would otherwise forget 🙂

        Which places have left that impression on you?

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      4. Miia Post author

        Talking about that period. I found it extremely interesting to visit the archaeological museum of Heraklion, Crete, because many of the objects reminded me of India. For example, there was a Minoan nandi!!! Curious, eh?!

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      5. Miia Post author

        Rambling thoughts:

        I tried to do some quick googling but didn’t get far. One of the most famous frescoes in Knossos is about a bull, but this statue I saw at the Heraklion museum did not have horns. And I think nandis never have horns in India…right?

        Anyhow, I found this museum to be one of the most powerful museums I have ever visited, and especially for the Minoan part.

        There are researchers that think Minoans traded with the ancient India and the Americas. Have you heard about this writer… I have his name somewhere. Fascinating.

        Sort of changing the subject but it is very curious also how that metal pillar in Mehrauli, Delhi, got there!!! Apparently, I hear, some argue it came from far away, maybe Crete?

        One big puzzle!

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      6. SalvaVenia

        I also read about that trade. Something which really is most fascinatingg is the fact that the South-American corn orgonates from the African continent. Researchers have established at least that very fact, that the transfer must have been taken place many a century before either the Phoenicians or Vikings or even Chinese.

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      7. Miia Post author

        I think I read about that too. Mind blowing to say the least
        .
        Do you remember who is the writer?

        Do you know that iron pillar am talking about? That has a very special composition… something to do with oxygen.. (zero oxygen?). Any thoughts on that?

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      8. SalvaVenia

        I could find out where I read that, I think. Would take some tome, though, because those books are still amongst those packed into the packing cases. But I shall give it a try.

        Regarding that iron pillar in Delhi I am without any peculiar knowledge, sorry.

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      9. Miia Post author

        No worries. It may be the same writer… I will find the name and get back to you to check if it is the same!

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  1. Anay Bhide

    One of the most visited locations in India. Indian consider this city to be holy and the world famous Ganga river flows from this region. Varanasi truly exhibits the vibrant culture of India. We visit Varanasi every year and it is always a wonderful experience. If you want experience the culture of India, you must definitely visit Varanasi.

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    1. Miia Post author

      Varanasi is very special, I agree!!

      Where do you stay in Varanasi? By the Ganges of elsewhere?

      The only downside I found was the food; did not eat as well as elsewhere in India.

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  2. Indah Susanti

    Miia, reading your post made me want to return to India! Things that happened in India like the rough start at the beginning of arrival or “monkey” issue, these were part of traveling experience that make the travel itself very unique 🙂

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    Reply
    1. Miia Post author

      Hi Jessica! When were you in Varanasi? It was very hot when we were there in April. After an initial shock we kind of got taken by it and really “enjoyed” ourselves. Well, “enjoy” probably isnt’t the best word, but we did find it intriguing. Where did you stay?
      Where else did you go and have you written a lot about India in your blog?
      Have a great week in Finland, I hear the sun is out 🙂

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      1. Miia Post author

        Hi Jessica, so sorry for responding only now!! Nice post about Varanasi.
        I wonder how many of 33 countries have you done by now 🙂 ?

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    1. Miia Post author

      Cool! Since when/during which period? I had a period too in my life when I changed countries faster than my socks and I would wake up at night wondering whether I am in Africa or Central Asia 😉
      Enjoy!!!

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