30 hours of train trip turned out to be the worst nightmare of our journey. We bought SL (Sleeper class) tickets which was the cheapest ticket. We thought we won’t be needing air conditioning system in a compartment. But it was a mistake. At dawn, temperature was so low unlike the Mumbai. Car windows were left opened while we were sleeping. Because of that, one of our crew got sick and was in bed with a fever. We took turns nursing our friend. It took time to wake from the nightmare.
After booking a ticket to the Agra, we went out of the Varanasi Junction Station. As soon as stepping outside, infamous drivers of auto-rickshaws of Agra started cling to us. I was sick of everything in this particular situation. We just took any auto-rickshaw and asked him to carry us to the Godoliya. From there, we chased after another backpacking traveler whom we met at the station until reach the Main Ghat. In front of us was the Ganga river (The river Ganges). But I was too tired to get inspired. Chill which got from train made me sick. We walked down along the river to find the guesthouse which was recommended by Korean couple whom we met earlier. Manager showed us a clean room and price was much cheaper than Mumbai. The owner of the guesthouse was Japanese but we never encountered while staying there.
Walking down the alley, we found a restaurant sign written in Korean. I was excited to eat Korean food. We ordered noodles and Kimchi fried rice and a bowl of rice topped with scrambled eggs. The owner was Japanese and the food tasted more like Japanese than Korean. But it was delicious! After the meal, we went to the Manikarnika Ghat. In English, it means a Burning Ghat.
A dead man’s body was on a woodpile. A man with a long stick turned the dead body over. No one was crying and I didn’t see any sadness in their faces. It was just a ritual. But I couldn’t take a picture, even though some natives were taking pictures with their cell phones. I didn’t want them to think me as a frivolous tourist. At that moment, I wanted to be one of them. At 6 p.m. puja held at the Main Ghat. Puja is a religious ritual worshiping Hindu deities. There were men who professionally perform it. They bowed heading for the Ganga. We went to bed early to prepare for more adventures in India the next day.
It was still dark when I heard Adhan, which is the Islamic call to prayer and I was able to guess that it was about 4 a.m. It was a foggy day. Boatmen were waiting for customers. After bargaining, we chose one boatman. We took a boat on the river. Rowing the boat, the boatman kept distance close to the riverside. He said in foggy river we may lose our way. Fog prohibited us seeing the sunrise of the Ganga.
It was early morning and temperature was a little low, but people still took bath in the river cleaning their sins. The boatman asked whether we wanted to drink some chai tea or not. We wanted something hot to fill our empty stomach so we accepted his offer. He docked boat riverside and called out the man selling chai tea. The seller gave it in mud cup. After drinking the boatman threw it to the ground to break it down.
I think it was a good idea way of protecting nature, because it is made of pure mud it won’t pollute the environment. After 30 minutes of riding along the river he landed us on shore. It was already time to go to Agra.
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