Varanasi: a city where you see every facet of life before your very eyes! From intense worshipping by pilgrims along the River Ganges to open-casket funerals along the ghats, it’s full of life going on everywhere you look!
For us, gay Varanasi was the most fascinating and interesting place in India. It’s so real here! As you walk along the many “ghats” running along the riverbed, you’ll see people doing their laundry in the Ganges, bathing in it, shitting in it, cremating their dead in it, taking pilgrim boat rides in it and so much more. At night the ghats are lit up by many different types of light ceremonies taking place creating a very unique and quite intense atmosphere. In this article, we’ve put together our experience of what it was like travelling in Varanasi as a gay couple.
Where is Varanasi?
Varanasi is located in Northeast India in the state of Uttar Pradesh. As far as Indian cities go, it’s on the smaller end with a population of 1.2 million.
Varanasi is considered one of the holiest places in India for Hindus and is also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world – since around 11th or 12th century BC.
The other important thing to note about Varanasi is the Ganges River, which runs through the city. What seems like a dirty and polluted river to us (no seriously it is, read this to get an idea!), the Ganges is considered extremely sacred to Hindus. It personifies the goddess “Ganga”, so ritual bathing in the sacred river is regarded as an important part of Hindu pilgrimage. This is also why funerals are so popular here – the ashes of the cremated bodies can be spread across into the holy river, giving them a noble passageway into the afterlife.