Varanasi, perhaps as ancient as the Indian civilization itself, is one of the world's oldest cities, over 3,000 years old. It is considered by Indians to be a holy city, and is the most revered pilgrimage spot in India. The Ganga River is a central part of this city, and it is felt that one dip in the holy Ganga will purify and wash away all mortal sins. Most Hindus believe that if one is graced to die and/or be cremated in Varanasi, they will attain liberation. So there are many burning ghaats (pyres) found along the banks of the river itself. After a body is burnt, the ashes are put in little leaf boats, or simply thrown into the holy Ganga River. One can often find oneself unexpectedly turning up at a burning ghaat while a body is being cremated. A visit to Varanasi by a tourist, or even a resident from other parts of India, is an unforgettable experience.
© 2007 Chaytna D. Feinstein. All Rights Reserved.