Varanasi is the ‘real India’. It’s the spiritual hub of India and the star of all the advertising seen around the world. And the main attraction around here is Ma Ganga - the River Ganges.
The water in the Ganges is seen to be sacred and purifying by the Hindus. Around 60,000 people take a holy bath (and a pooh) in the river, just in Varanasi, each day.
Each year 500 million Hindus travel just to bathe in the Ganges. Every day the Ganges serves as the catchment for the waste of 450 million Indian residents. Depending on your source, the river is either the ‘most polluted’ or one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Regardless if it is number one or number 5, the river contains a whopping 66% weight for volume of water borne pathogens like eColi! The water has the potential to make you very, very sick.
Hindus think the river has the ability to cleanse their sins. Sadly, they also believe the river has the ability to cleanse itself.
In Varanasi, the holiest city in the world, the water in the river is 150 times over the safe bathing limit. Yet thousands bathe in it every day. Every Hindu aspires to be cremated at one of the two Burning Ghats on the bank of the Ganges in Varanasi. An estimated 32,000 bodies are burned here each year, with about 300 tones of unburnt flesh being dumped in the river annually. However the largely inefficient (or broken) sewerage treatment plants are the major culprits, pumping millions of litres of untreated effluent into the river every day.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power in 2014. One of his main priorities is to clean up Ma Ganga. He has pledged $2bn over four years to this mission. It is clear to see India has the talent, the technology and the manpower to see this through. It is highly likely though the people lack the dedication and commitment.
For city a chaotic city of 1.2 million people you are overcome with a strange calmness as soon as you see the river. I’m probably the least spiritual person you’re likely to meet, yet even I feel something here. It’s amazing. I could easily pack up my stuff and live in a little room over-looking the river.
No trip to India is complete without a stay in Varanasi and a stroll along the river. Just don’t dangle your feet in the water - your travel insurance might have some issues with it!
Posted By Nathan
As a government employee by day my job is to work within strict parameters and think ‘inside the square’. Photography is in stark contrast to this, requiring patience and creativity, something I have had to learn. A (very) late bloomer in the field of photography I envied the ease at which my wife could compose a photo; yet she struggled with camera settings, so I took over in order to document our travel adventures. Four years on I can’t believe people actually like my photos.
Updated : 23rd July 2021 | Words : 430 | Views : 2957