Tuesday, May 24, 2011

India Trip Part 6: Dehradun and Varanasi

Another overnight bus and I was in Uttarakhand state's capital Dehradun. Dehradun isn't very interesting or much fun. The only reason I stopped there for a night was to catch an onward train to Varanasi.

I did end up travelling about half an hour out of town to see the Tibetan colony which was pretty impressive. They had a massive monastery with a 5 story stupa and equally tall Buddha statue.

I spent a lot of the my second day in Dehradun worrying about whether or not I had a train ticket to Varanasi in the evening. I had booked a waitlisted ticket and had to wait until 2 hours before departure to find out that I would have a seat however would be a sleeper seat shared with another person. I spent 23.5 hours on that train and was exhausted when I finally arrived in Varanasi.

Varanasi is filthy, crowded and hectic yet altogether amazing. The activity surrounding the banks of the Ganges river, areas known as the ghats, provide constant entertainment. People bathing, washing clothes, praying and carrying out funerals creates excellent people watching.  The heat was pretty intense. 42-45 degrees was standard during my stay meaning I was always drenched with sweat.

I took an evening boat ride along the ganges which was relaxing and enjoyable. I didn't end up swimming in the river although with thousands of people taking the plunge daily I think the risk of disease is highly exaggerated among western tourists.

I think I stayed one day too long in Varanasi. The final day I was fed up with the heat, the overcrowding and the annoying touts. This added to my stress as I once again faced the same old waitlist problems with the train. I worried all day again but in the end I got on and even got my own bed.

Onwards to Kolkata
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