Day 18 - Monday, November 14, 2016 – Morning Rituals on the Ganges; Fly to Delhi
Before the crack of dawn, 6:00 am, we met our group in the hotel lobby and then went on our big bus with Atanu, our guide, back to the Ganges to observe the Hindu morning rituals.
The bus took us to the old city and then we walked down to the ghat and the river. Most people were still asleep, either on the street or in small hammocks or narrow beds outside of their stores.
The dogs were looking for breakfast and the cows were being milked. The day was beginning in Varanasi. Today, November 14th is a very special holiday, again a day of the full moon, and it is especially important because it was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s birthday and Children’s Day in all of India.
We boarded our OAT boat for a sunrise cruise on the Ganges. We observed the pilgrims and the locals of the city performing their morning prayers, bathing in the river, and giving thanks for another day.
A Brahman priest accompanied our excursion. Along with a blessing, he preformed a morning ceremony that honored the deceased in our families.
After chanting the Sanskrit blessing, we dropped a palm leaf bowl into the river that contained wheat and barley flour, salt, sesame seeds, butter and honey along with rose petals. This was a sign of respect to our ancestors and thanked them for all they provided for us.
The Ganges is a hub of activity beginning and ending the day. People bathe, do laundry, prepare loved ones for cremation, and celebrate life and death on the banks of the river. We were fortunate to see the river both at the beginning and the end of the day. As awe-inspiring and breathtaking experiences go – this has to be on the top of our list!
Atanu took us on a short walk through narrow back alleys and small shops that were just opening. We returned to the hotel at 8:30 and had breakfast. Sujay gave us until 11:30 to repack our bags and organize for the last day of this incredible journey.
With one last surprise in his pocket, Sujay met us on the 5th floor of the hotel in the Club Lounge. Two young men preformed a classical Indian music concert for us. Using the Tabla, a set of two drums and the sitar, a 20 string instrument, they entertained us for 30 minutes.
Everyone had had a late breakfast so we did not have lunch but left for the airport at 12:45. We went through the weight issue again only this time our group was more over and we had to pay $5.00 instead of the $2 from the previous flight. Either dirty clothes weigh a lot more than clean clothes or many people have done more shopping in the last two days.
Security was a zoo; women and children went in one line and men in the other. The men's line moved right along, the women and children took a bit more time. We always thank our Tour Directors for getting us to the airport early.
There was a gate change so we went up to the second floor and to Gate 2. Almost as soon as we found the gate, the previous passengers got off and we got right in line to board.
At 3:30 we were in the air on our way to Delhi on an hour's flight. We arrived in Delhi, collected our bags, and made a short trip to the airport hotel, The Pride Plaza. Security was very tight and our bags and carry-ons had to go through a scanner. Everyone was frisked and then we were allowed to enter.
We met our group for dinner together one last time at 7:15. Several have to be at the airport at 8:30 for flights, but the rest of us had later flights this evening or tomorrow morning. We posted the day’s journal, took a shower, and relaxed until it was time for the drive to the airport at 10:30.
Our Lufthansa flight to Munich was scheduled to leave Delhi at 1:50 am. The last day of our trip will be posted after we arrive home on Tuesday, November 15th. It will take us a few days, so be patient, and once again we thank you all for your comments and for traveling with us once again.
The River Ganges is 1,569 miles long and considered to be very pure. The presence of bacteriophages (viruses that kill bacteria) in the water is said to be the reason behind this quality. The Ganga’s self-purifying quality leads to oxygen levels 25 times higher than any other river in the world. Ganges River Facts
Accommodations: Pride Plaza Hotel - - - Meal: B & D
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This is my 4th attempt to write a comment. I want to thank y'all for carrying me along on your trip to India. This was a fascinating trip and very colorful. Loved the pics you posted. That palace!!! Why would anyone need such a large place to live? WOW Looking forward to our journeys together in the future. Take care and may God bless you both!
You are our favorite tour guides and Educators! Thanks sooo much for sharing this colorful, spiritual culture of India with us.
Thank You for sharing your journey with us! Ilhan and Ameena traveled with you through your words and pictures. An education and a dream and hope to also experience this great world of ours! See you soon! Travel Safe!
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