FOR HINDUS THIS IS MECCA
VARANASI - once known as BENARES
For Hindus this is the holiest city in the world, for the rest of us it’s just plain crazy. Mark Twain said of Varanasi; "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together." On the banks of the holy Ganges River pilgrims come to bathe and make offerings of worship. They bring the bodies of deceased loved ones here to be cremated and then place the ashes in the river. That the river is 'clean' is a philosophical debate, but from a chemical and biological perspective it’s loaded with pollutants and heavy metals. Each night after sunset the Ganga Aarti Ceremony is conducted on the banks of the river. It's a mystical spectacle presided over by young Hindu priests with thousands of devoted onlookers from as far away as Bangladesh and Southern India.The next morning, again the throngs of devotees pray while onlookers float by the stone steps (ghats) on the banks of the river in this the oldest of ancient cities located on one of the holiest waterways on planet earth.
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