Varanasi can be hard on Western sensibilities, yet to the Indian it is a most Holy City. Like everywhere in India the breathtaking beauty of its people and the often abysmal dirt of their surroundings test all our Western concepts of humanity. This becomes especially urgent in places like Varanasi or Pashupatinath where people go to die. For that reason I will not comment and let the pictures of this one morning speak for themselves.

We arrived in Varanasi from Kathmandu late in the evening. We got up at six next morning and, spurning the rickshaw-wallahs, tried to find our way to the ghats through the incredibly crowded, narrow lanes of the old town by ourselves. We got lost, and reached the Ganges after sunrise and after the bathing ritual was mostly over.  

Six o'clock in the morning near our two-star hotel. Rickshaws taking people to the ghats, a sacred cow and a street sweeper.



 A crowded street near the ghats.




Marigold necklaces for sale at the ghats.



A tikka vendor and a beggar woman with her child







Women taking their bath in the Ganges...

 ... afterwards they spread their saris to dry.




 A laundry wallah will also wash their saris


 A picture from Dante's Purgatory: Boats taking people to the other bank of the Styx, while laundry wallahs, like the ghosts of the dead, labor as black silouhettes at the edge of the river.





An old man leading a group of pilgrims.



  Women carrying their wet saris home.


Even the cheapest saris can be magnificent. 

 Marigold necklaces are an important part of the ritual.


 A flower girl on way back to the hotel. She also prepares Betel leaves.