After a bumpy start on my own in Agra,
namely heavy fog obliterating my view of the Taj, I made it back to Delhi and on to Varanasi.
This is one of the rivers, the most venerated, that ones ashes can be put into. I would not suggest being cremated here though, it is a bit primitive. There are many funny things like the water buffalo who are driven to the river but not allowed into it (not sure why except they would probably swim to the other side and run away) but they hang out all day with the laundry people and bathers who come to cleanse their souls in the river. Other things that go into the river and the bodies that are not burned of children under three, pregnant mother and those with leperosy. They are tied with stones and the bodies are transported to the middle of the river where they are put in by the family. Fortunately there are fish to do the clean up. The sewage from the city also flows into the river, don’t know how much cleaning up they do beforehand, and all kinds of trash as well as manure from the cows that hasn't been made into fuel patties. Soooo, not the kind of place you might want to be taking a dip and a drink!
The city is known for making brocaded silk and silk/pashmina wool scarves and wraps. They are really quite beautiful. There is an evening celebration of putting the river to sleep that is quite the performance! The deeply religious people of Varanasi honor all of their gods in beautiful ways at nearly every hour of the day.
Tomorrow I am off to Jaipur, where many textiles are made and many of the buildings are of pink stone so it is often called the “pink city”. It is amazing how many people are in these cities! I don’t think I have been in one that was less than 4 Million people yet. The trash and stench from the habit of peeing in corners everywhere is frequently overwhelming. A bit of peppermint under the nose works wonderfully well so I dab it on before I go out.