We got into the Air India plane which had waited so graciously for bawa and he fell asleep almost immediately and probably dreamt of bawi temptresses, exhausted as he was by emotional tension, the unaccustomed physical effort of running in the airport and the mental trauma of getting shouted at by Bharathi SWMBO
Soon we were in Varanasi, and bawa didn't have to fly to Gorakhpur or jump with a parachute or sail down from Kolkata, so he was pretty chuffed with himself.
The airport taxi was a rip-off as usual, and I booked an Uber instead. Uber and Ola is the BEST thing that has happened to travel in India, and if any slimy government stooge or gunda political party tries to nobble these two services, then they will die of leprosy via special curse from me.
I was very impressed by Varanasi! This was my third visit here over the years, and I had never seen it looking this good! Wide roads, spic and span cleanliness, beautiful wall paintings - it was looking amazing. Yogi and gang have done an awesome job - Well done UP administration!
We reached Dashashwamedh ghat and went around hunting for hotels. I had spent literally hours and hours researching Google Maps and Oyo and GoIbibo and Airbnb, much to Bharathi's puzzlement.
'Since when did you start making bookings for backpacking travel, eh?' she asked
'I....er....' I was quite surprised myself. What had happened to me? Oh god! I had got a communicable discease from Bharathi! After seeing her book hotels and tickets and trips and such stuff day in and day out for so many years, I was also infected! AAAAARRRRGHHHH! I was doomed! I was a booker!
'Oh shut up!' she replied crossly 'I never book any acco for India holidays'
'But what about the last time...'
'Oh, that was a one-off'
'And the time before that?'
'Oh that was because there are very few hotels there'
'And what about...'
'Oh get lost.'
Anyway, I digress. Where were we? Ah yes, Dashashwamedh ghat...
'So where are we going?' Bawa asked, fidgeting with his backpack. He had discovered late last night that he does not have a backpack and had gone running to Decathlon to buy one.
'Oh we will find one.' I said 'And today we will hit the jackpot.'
'It's your day man. the whole plane waited for you. We will definitely get an awesome room today because of your luck.'
And we did!
In fact, we got an awesome deal in the very first hotel we saw. He offered us his very best room at half price. But we couldnt believe it - it seemed too good to be true. So we shouldered our packs and tramped all over the ghats and saw multiple hotels, until we realised that the first deal was the best and we went back there.
It was on Rana Mahal ghat and was in a palace which was apparently built for Maharana Pratap to stay in. We got the most amazing room overlooking the Ganga with a beautiful sit out, where we sat for a long time enjoying the night views.
The next day we went for a dawn boat ride and enjoyed it thoroughly. The weather was amazing and the river was awesomely clean. The Ghats have also been cleaned up and beautified and are looking the best that I have ever seen. Again, I must put this on record - an amazing job by the UP government. Well done dudes.
We decided to take a tour of the city and booked the same from our hotel guy. Bawa fluttered his peepers at him (not his peepee...his peepers...his eyes!) and pleaded for a discount and the hotelier was so horrified that he gave us a 10% discount to make him go away. We went to see Sarnath - where the Buddha had given his first sermon - and it was quite a distance away through some terrible and horny traffic (horn blowing traffic I mean). Sarnath itself was quite pleasant, but we didn't have that much of time there and went running back through that horny traffic to see Benares fort.
I had not seen Benares fort as yet and was quite eager to see it. But unfortunately there was not much to see there. There was a museum, where the guards told us sternly 'No photography allowed'. I wondered why - but it was clear when I saw the museum.
It was the worst, piece of shit museum ever!
India is full of crappy museums, which look more like a garbage heap than a museum, but this would easily take pride of place.
The Maharani must have told the Maharaja to throw all the old junk and crap out of the house, and the Maharaja thought that it would be fun to put all the trash inside a glass case instead and see how many mugs would pay to see it.
It's so bad, that it's unmissable. You should go there just to see how bad it is.
But when we got out of the museum and were about to leave, we saw a sign that pointed to some temple and went to check it out. That turned out to be a lucky break, because that path led to the walls of the fort, which were right on the banks of the river. Now we could see how beautiful the fort was, and how lovely the setting was! It was wonderful. A serendipitous discovery indeed.
After the aarti, all the motorboats made a run for their respective hotels and looked very much like a bunch of spermatozoa in an orgasm. We were in a rowboat and enjoyed a night ride on the Ganges and enjoyed the beautiful illumination on the ghats. Again I will say it - an amazing clean up and beautification of the ghats! Well done UP!
I blog about my travels - and the thoughts they set off! Sometimes the simplest destinations can be the most thought-provoking!