Global adventures, Travels in Indonesia

Varanasi, the city of light

I arrive at the Ganges as the sun begins to cast its glow over the waking city.  The river runs purple and its banks gleam a shimmering gold.  All around is the sound of music, ringing bells and chanting as Varanasi comes alive in a mad frenzy of devotion.  I watch a man walk into the river, arms outstretched, a look of ecstasy on his face as he  calls out  “Ganga”.  I am overwhelmed by the intensity of emotion – this is no ordinary river.

I find a teastand and sit down, enjoying the sweet spicy brew.  An old man sit next to me.  “Did you know that this is the oldest city in the world? He asks.  “It is the center of all knowledge and wisdom, he who searches for answers will find them here is Varanasi”.   For thousands of years people have come to worship and offer their prayers to the river Goddess.  A dip in the holy waters of Varanasi is said to wash away all sins. Continue reading “Varanasi, the city of light”

Global adventures, Travels in Indonesia

Hidden Hampi

In central Karnataka lies the village of Hampi. Here you find valleys rich in a dazzling array of brilliant colours. Huge boulders and hills of rock and sandstone dot the landscape and amidst it all are the scattered remains of a lost civilisation. Villagers make their home amongst the remnantsof the old bazaar, but monkeys and the occasional chilum smoking sadhu are the only inhabitants of the outlying ruins.

Hampi provides a constant assault on the senses. Women seem to glide effortlessly down he street in brilliantly coloured saris, carrying buckets and huge piles of firewood on  their heads. The streets are lined with stands of powder dies, chilli red, saffron yellow and fluro orange. At the thali restaurants you are served curries to set your mouth on fire ~ even the tea is made with cardamon. The air is permeated with the pungent smell-of cow dung – it is watered down and thrown on the pavement to keep the chalk designs fresh and to keep the dust down.

Cows wander the streets, stealing fruit from the stands or lie sprawled across the middle of the road. They have no need to fear the traffic – to kill a sacred cow is almost as serious as killing a person. Dogs skulk around protecting their territory and spying out friendly foreigners in the restaurants. Everywhere cheeky monkeys play amongst the stucco ornaments of temples, pilfering food and chattering away in the trees. Continue reading “Hidden Hampi”