I found it so moving to feel the sense of community around the cremation ghat in Varanasi... everyone knowing their place and role in a ceremony that repeats itself, over and over, as those entering their next life are transported through the cleansing, blessing and ritual that began there more than 3500 years ago.
Boys, boats and water... no matter the country, it always looks like fun.
Washing day on the Ganges , Varanasi.
The colours of Varanasi from a boat on the Ganges...followed by a seagull.
My camera loves chasing down clothes hanging on a clothes line in different corners of the world. This one on the Ganges just might be my favourite.
Along the banks of the Ganges, Varanasi.
Seagulls on the Ganges... in the morning fog... very ethereal.
I am the colour of a long life... my stories are many.
Varanasi sits on the river Ganges in the North of India and is considered the holiest of the seven sacred cities of India in Hinduism and Jainism. It’s a constant of cremation, burial and cleansing rituals.
A typical North India breakfast... parathas filled with cauliflower: green peas: garlic and onion and cottage cheese: and poris with Dahl and sauces... spicy tamarind: spinach and mint and yoghurt
Peace be with you... a holy prayer from a holy man in Varanasi.
A typical scene on the Ganges... seagulls and boats
Old wooden boats under repair along the Ganges. Anything blue will always catch my eye.
The pigeon bath at Brijrama Palace, Varanasi. The hotel took 18 years to fully restore and has only been open for 2 years. If you love authentic accommodation that shouts the history of your destination then this one is for you.
There’s only one place to stay in Varanasi for your complete local experience. Stay in this 18th century hotel that is one of the city’s oldest landmarks. The decorating and design are formidable. The rooms are beyond comfortable. The food and service excellent.
I am tired and I am sacred... walk around me please. Varanasi.
This little baby of a pancake filled with smashed pea mixture served with a tamarind sauce was double delectable. Served at #brijramapalacevaranasi
for breakfast. A typical North India breakfast treat. I’ll be trying this one st home for sure.
Monkey business on the ghat steps of Varanasi. If it’s not cows, its dogs or monkeys. Both man and animal creating a coexistence that works. Travel... it will leave you speechless...
Colours of pure India silk... nothing like it
And so my journey to Varanasi ends for now... this shot, softened with a purple hue feels right in our farewell...
While we stand by the burning ghat absorbed by a fire lit by the river God Shiva 3500 years ago that has never been extinguished we watch as watercraft arrive with bodies already prepared for burial... they have come by train from far away. Meanwhile, other prepared bodies wrapped in flowers and silk are carried on a wooden stretcher down the steep steps to the river to be washed before they too will be burned by the river side. Family members and the workers are happy in their job because they know they have given the dead their greatest gift... to be burned by the Ganges and ashes spread in the Ganges providing salvation ... the ritual of the family throwing the ashes over their shoulder into the Ganges and never looking back is a symbol of letting a loved one go so they can enter their next life. And then they walk forward, never looking back..
Hard to imagine that the Ganges rises higher than those trees on the river bank in June/July... but still there will be seagulls 😊
I’m pretty certain I have just been given a safe travels blessing so all good to start my journey home ... better start packing 😳
The question is... Are seagulls God’s army to carry souls from one lifetime into the next... from the holy Ganges to the heavens...for more, read ‘Seagulls on the Ganges’ and decide for yourself❤️
Sunrise on the Ganges... a truly holy moment... beyond the splash of oars there is a silent respect until Mother sun hits the edges of Mother Ganges and a new day is born.
A very southern Indian Breakfast plate...brings a whole new meaning to my breakfast... 😊 Brijramapalace
Remembering that fires burn here 24/7 to carry the dead from one lifetime to another it’s not surprising that the morning sir is whiter than white. From the rooftop at BrijRama I can still see far into the whiteness... up and down and across to the other side of the river... life here has a rhythm that intoxicates. There may not be a financial wealth among these people but there is an immeasurable spiritual wealth that could never be measured.
Sunrise from the water clothing the ghats of Varanasi. Locals waking and taking their first plunge into the Ganges to cleanse their body of dirt and sin. Women washing clothes, belting them on the hard concrete steps down to the Ganges before they lay them out to dry there too. Bodies constantly being burned. Plumes of smoke fill the air. Piles of wood stacked high... ready. Dogs and cows meander undisturbed and there’s a peace that balances the crazy hectic streets of the city on the other side of the ghats.
Staying at the stunning BrijRama Palace at Varanasi. It’s just minutes walk from Dasashwamedh Ghat. The hotel has a spectacular history. It’s considered the oldest building on the Ghats. Originally it was designed to serve as a fort. Today, because of loving hands and eyes with vision of luxury and fine detail in its 18 year restoration, what was once a fort expands the traveller’s experience of a city older than time itself or as Mark Twain wrote of Varanasi... “Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice S old as all of them put together.”#brijramapalace
We made it Seagull. We said we would and we did. What a magical experience. In all my travels I have nothing to compare this with. Though it has such a history like all the other places I have been drawn to travel, it is full of symbolism born of a unique faith. I like this faith that expels the idea that life ends... but rather life is an energy that keeps moving until the soul has completed its learning... as I am still learning, I remain.
A dream come true. Made it to Varanasi and I’m writing on a balcony overlooking the mighty, gracious, dirty, busy, holy Ganges. I’m conscious of small white flecks falling on me from the air above me and I can only imagine these are particles of white ash from the fires burning the bodies not far along the river from me. I feel privileged to be in the time of this holy theatre and l say a prayer for those who are travelling from this life into their next life as I sit here wishing them well. I note families gathered by the river in celebration that they were able to carry a loved one to the river and give them this grand send off... not in a sad way, but simply knowing they have fulfilled their loved ones greatest desires ... for the Ganges will carry them home.
Wherever you go I will follow. Wherever you be I will be. Whatever you need I will give you.. and when it is time for you to leave I will find my way...
Varanasi pigeons overlooking the Ganges from the balcony of their BrijRama Palace residence after bathing in the flower pool 😊
Sunrise on the Ganges... what s magical moment.
Cremation by the Ganges... the holiest river in the world at Varanasi.
Night time on the Ganges at the Fire Ceremony.. . It’s cold outside but the heart is warm being in the experience of a tradition that takes place every night on the Ganges for visitors and those who have come from all over India carrying their dead loved ones to be cremated beside the Ganges before their ashes are spread on the holy river.
And there they were... the seagulls... just as I had imagined... flying low on the Ganges... as the flames of cremation rose into the night sky. Being here gives total meaning to moksha and meaningful coincidences for me. If you would like to read my story, Seagulls on the Ganges , go to my website for more details... and please, if you do, please share with me your thoughts and feelings at the end.
Varanasi... when I wrote ‘Seagulls on the Ganges’ I never imagined I would one day travel to Varanasi and understand the reason and rhyme begins my journey... but that’s what happens when you follow the whispers of your heart..: it leads you to exactly where you are supposed to be ... grateful as. 💙
She’s more than majestic...more than you can ever imagine. What a privilege to visit her.
I may not come home. Just applied for front of house job at the Imperial Hotel, New Delhi. I’m a shoe in with my uniform perfect to start immediately... may need higher heels or to grow a bit 😂 what fun.
Framed at the Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi
Made the authors board... in New Delhi...go ‘Seagulls on the Ganges’... go 😊
Time to go to work. This is why I’m here in Delhi. ‘Seagulls on the Ganges’ is currently being exhibited at the World Book Fair Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Let’s go meet some readers.
The Imperial Hotel, New Delhi... a past full of colourful traditions ...
That place called happy... when you know you made the right decision to come... to be open and inviting of all that is new... to embrace it... let it wash over you... rub off on you ... and trust it has reason and rhyme and that it is building on your existing foundations... who you are, but also the girl who is waiting up front for you to arrive. You don’t know this girl yet but you know you will love her because she committed to the journey of wanting to know her full self and the rest was inconsequential and trivial.
The crowd leaving Friday prayer at Jama Masjid Mosque, Old Delhi... the Mosque is India’s largest with a staggering 25,000 devotees. Prayer is loud and fast in the middle of the day. There are places to be... so you need to stand aside for the rush... and then be prepared to take your shoes off... a wonderful local experience. I’m fascinated by both young girls and makes wanting to have selfies taken with westerners...I wonder what they do with these selfies. It’s like they are collecting trophies to share with their friends... but what for ...
Homeward bound in New Delhi. The fastest way to travel... these drivers know the difference between passing a car another Tuk Tuk at 1.5cm and 0.5cm. Hair raising... but give me this any day other than the Metro...
The walls that surround the Red Fort in New Delhi extend for more than 2km ... put your walking shoes on... it’s a hike to the entrance before you get inside... but so well worth the walk💃🏼
New Delhi is absolutely... before anything else ... authentic in its truth of simply being who she is. Don’t judge her or try to change her and you’ll fall in love with her...
Starting my New Delhi experience with some history at the Red Fort...the residence, ceremonial and political centre of the Mughal Emperors and government until 1857 but before it was the fortified palace of Shah Jahan... same emperor who built the Taj Mahal