Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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The Ganges, an Earlier Highlight
One highlight of this trip for me has been the River Ganges itself. The Ganges is a wide, brown river, much like the Mississippi and about the same size. The first night in Varanasi, we stayed at the Alka Hotel, which sits right on the river, literally. The hotel has multiple terraces and balconies that give one an unobstructed view of the Ganges, both immediately below and up and down river.

A ghat (stone steps) runs down beside the hotel on the right to the water itself. All morning I watched people travel down the steps to bathe and wash clothes. 







I stood with Munna, the assistant manager of the hotel, watching the river. Munna is a Brahman in his mid-30s whose parents want him to marry. A devotee of Shiva, he is a bright, spiritual person. 






Standing on the terrace above the river, he pointed out three large plants growing there in pots: one was a young banyon tree, the second was holy basil (tulsi), and the third, whose name I’ve forgotten, he said was always planted near courts, and if the tree shed on a man while he was being tried, he was presumed guilty. 



When we left the hotel, Munna insisted that Linda and I go back to the terrace above the river and offer this prayer: “Mother Ganga, we pray that you will allow us to return once again and worship at your side.”

Since my wish to stick my feet in the Ganges has been unfulfilled, perhaps Munna’s prayer will offer me another chance.


Images: All photos except first courtesy of Richard Furlough.

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