Another early morning….what is wrong with me? The girls want to go down to Assi Ghat, a short walk from the hotel. What’s going on at 5am?? Morning yoga and prayers! The yoga isn’t what we are expecting…no funky moves, just sitting in one spot with a focus on breathing. I don’t partake…..not really my thing. I was mostly there for the photo op.
The guy that is running the yoga does this crazy breathing thing, like a bunch of sharp exhales while speaking the prayers. It sounds cool. At one point, everyone throws their hands in the air, and they let out a round of maniacal laughing. It was definitely interesting to see the ritual. We leave the girls to finish their yoga, and head back to the hotel to relax for a bit after that 4am wakeup call.
For those of us that want to explore, Chandra is here to take us on a small walking tour of some temples. On this walk, we meet up with lots of cows….and pigs!
I’m confused, as Hindus do not eat pork. So what else are they around for? I am told that some Hindus eat it, some don’t. And selling the meat makes for a decent living.
The temple we visit is Durga temple; it is super busy and jam packed. It is a bold red color, painted from ochre. Chandra manages to sneak us in a side entrance; there are lineups and people shoving to get in at every entrance. Just crazy. Photography is not allowed inside which is too bad because it is a sight to see! It is shoulder to shoulder in here, so I’m glad we don`t stay for too long.
The next stop is Tulsi Manas Mandir, one of the most famous in Varanasi. It is a white marble temple, surrounded by beautiful green gardens and palm trees. Inside is a large square room with a high ceiling and marble tiles on the floor. The coloring of the temple is cool in tone, whites and greys. There is a second floor; and you can look down below on the temple. If you want to walk the circumference of the temple, it is done in a clockwise direction to benefit from and absorb the energy. This temple is dedicated to Lord Ram, and the walls are etched with verses and scenes from Ramcharitamanas, an epic Indian poem. After exploring these temples, the group breaks off to explore.
This afternoon is when my stomach pain begins. Like someone has reached into my gut and is squeezing as hard as they can. I decide to go back to the hotel to relax and take some meds(which do not help).
And then we are off on another overnight train this evening.
I manage to convince my tour mates to let me sleep in the bottom bunk this time. I don’t have much of an appetite, so I skip dinner. This train is so shaky, like a serious bouncing back and forth when lying down. Almost feels like we’re gonna run off the tracks. What also doesn’t help the sleep situation is the baby in the next bunk that’s puking and crying all night. I will definitely be bringing earplugs on my next trip. And just when I think I’m ok with the toilets on the train….I have to use one that is so disgusting that I think it has ruined me forever. I cannot unsee this. Now I’m sure it could have been worse, but keep in mind I’m already not feeling great. So I have the task of either cleaning it up a bit, or hover and hope that I have great balance on the super shaky train as to avoid the mess. I think you know the safe option.
And it`s all worth it, for tomorrow, we arrive in a most magical place……