Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A spiritual sunset on the Ganges

As I said in my earlier post, Varanasi was one of my favourite places visited on this trip. It's really interesting to visit a place that is so important, so revered, by local people. Visiting as an outsider, you remain respectful of their view, of their beliefs, but you can never understand or experience the place in the same way that they would. It's an important part of travelling however, to understand that we all have different places, or traditions, that might seem strange or unusual to an outsider but that make complete sense to us. These quirks are what make humans interesting, unique and diverse and these are things we should not just tolerate but embrace and they are worth fighting for.

During our sunset boat trip, we watched a guy swim right past our boat, bathing away his sins, cleansing his soul in the holy Ganges. We watched cremations, dust and ash floating in the air and out into the waters, we saw people washing their clothes in the river. All life (and death) flows through this river. 

We participated in our own small candle ceremony, lighting a candle in remembrance of our lost loved ones, placing it onto the water to float away with our good wishes and love for them in the afterlife. We drifted down past all the ghats and temples, with ceremonal fires burning. We sailed past a cremation (there are no pictures as a mark of respect). We watched a religious ceremony with music and chanting. All whilst the sun set behind us, over the sacred Ganges.

Friday, 11 July 2014

One evening in Delhi

On our first evening arriving in India, after a slightly disasterous visit to the Red Fort (which was closed) and major dificulties getting back to our hotel in time to meet our tour group for the first time, we went on a whistle stop tour of Delhi. First to the Presidential Palace, and then on to India Gate. Where the eternal flame burns for the unknown soldier. 

India gate was teeming with people, enjoying picnics, games and time with friends and family while the last rays of the sun were disappearing behind the clouds on the horizon. There's not much else to say about this day. India Gate was huge and a truely fitting tribute to India's war dead and the presidential palace? It was a fairly nice building!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Visiting the highest point of the world

The highlight of travel in Nepal, and of the whole trip... an early morning flight over Mount Everest. Boarding our small yeti airways plane we flew across the most famous set of mountains in the world, past the highest peak of nature and back to the airport. The mountains are breathtaking. Everest doesn't appear to tower above the rest, as I had expected. I can only identify which photos are of Everest now because it was taken from the cockpit window which was pretty dirty!

This didn't really matter however, as the rest of the mountains were spectacular enough. Our flight attendant came along to all passengers throughout the flight pointing out all the other famous peaks, explaining to us about the Holy mountain which has never been and will never be climbed, and the twin peaks that are referred to as man and wife. I have since forgotten which photos depict these mountains, but that doesn't matter to me, as these photos serve just as a reminder of the day I saw them with my own eyes. Captivated and mesmerised by the beauty and serenity of our world.

First photo of Everest, the peak to the left.

That peak right of the centre of this photo is Everest.

The lower ranges of the Himalayas, which were still hundreds of meters above sea level.