Travel Ideas


Varanasi, or Benares, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and is sacred to Hindus for the River Ganges whose waters wash away sin. That’s presumably all it does wash away, given the immense amount of human and industrial pollution that chokes the river. Either way, Hindus jump right in and bathe with abandon and, as long as you’ve got excellent health insurance, you can too.

Varanasi is where all good Hindus go to die. You could do worse. Either way, whilst you’re waiting for death to come along (she’s very busy, as you might imagine), you can sit down on the steps of the burning ghat and watch Brahmin priests torching dead bodies.

Take a rowing boat trip out on the river at dawn as the sun rises on the other, barren side of the river and see if you can spot the floating corpses of any holy men or cows, both of which are considered beyond burning.

Head too far away from the river and it becomes another awful, polluted Indian city, but hang around the side streets and ghats of Varanasi and you’ll not find anywhere on earth quite as trippy.

Check out more on the India guide