The day began at 5.30a.m. This was to enable us to reach the ghats or bathing steps in time for sunrise, which is when observant Hindus bathe and say their prayers.
The narrow alleys leading to the river were impassable for the coach so we had a fairly long walk in the dark through indescribable conditions. It rained last night so the usual heaps of ordure and litter had become a soup spread throughout the alleys and impossible to avoid. Too dark for photographs, verbal pictures only!
Eventually the alley opened up and the picture of the ghats and the river opened before us, the sky was just beginning to turn pink and the scene, straight out of the National Geographic was quite stunning.
We boarded a boat and travelled a short way up and down river. The trip was a photographers dream,
There were women in colourful saris,
sadhus or holy men preparing for their day,
One of the ghats is used specifically for cremations, funerals pyres burn here constantly day and night.
We all lit yarzeit candles and floated them on the river.
The laundry was open and working hard to keep the hotels supplied with clean sheets.
Our walk back to the coach was quite difficult. By now the pedlars and beggars were awake and surrounded us the entire way. Their persistence has to be admired, their junk in the main is exactly that.
The beggars are the stuff of horror films and nightmares, weeping sores and deformities that I never dreamed could exist.
We have seen these beggars all over India but never so bad as this morning.
After breakfast we visited a Bhuddist Temple. Not just any Bhuddist Temple but one built on the very spot where Bhudda preached two and a half thousand years ago.
We have now visited mosques and temples from three of the ancient religions, Muslim, Hindu and Bhuddist, all of which have very strong followers here. None of them seem to do very much for the poor and underpriveleged!