After a walk around the lush green, landscaped gardens, taking in the history and sights of the statues reflecting inspirational Indian people, we opted for an exhibition ticket which allowed us to take part in the three exhibitions at the temple. The first one which was a robotic version of events which depicted the life of an inspirational legend named Swaninarayan who to this day is still worshiped all over the world. It went through his life story and how he came to inspire a whole nation. One part of the show that stood out to me was when they mentioned how many people it took to carve the temple and went on to ask how many people it would take to carve a life. Just one... You. It told the spectator that they were indeed, their own sculptor, their own stone and their own chisel. The show went on, leading us through various rooms and explaining how this one boy who grew up showing so much selflessness and love for others made a huge difference to the world and that you yourself can do this in your own life if you chose to. The second exhibition was the movie about the boys life and every step he took to help the whole nation of India. He travelled for years and years through mountains, deserts and sea's to visit various communities of the country and surrounding areas how to live their life more harmoniously without fear, hate or war. He became so incredibly loved that the people knew him as god himself. Today, there are temples around the world, shrines to him throughout peoples homes and other various ways in which people still worship and look up to him and his life learnings. He changed the world and he was an inspiration to many. The last exhibition led us to a boat ride which took us through a small river lined with various aspects of India and Vedic traditions which still live on today. It proved that the people of India were way before their time even discovering Trigonometry before Pythagoras, Pi and Zero. The whole day was an amazing experience and showed the great world that BAPS does today around the world in various aspects of life ie environmental, educational and medicinal. BAPS is an organization that is run wit the beliefs of Swaninarayan in mind, aiming to help the whole world with the help of Its many volunteers. If I had learned anything that day It would be that you are the creator of your own life and you have the almighty power within you to change the world and make a difference, just don't have fear.
With all of this inspiration and relaxation in our minds throughout the day, It was all about to change with our journey to Varanasi looming. Taking two metros back to Delhi station and a rickshaw back to Pahar Ganj, where our hostel was, we barely had time before our train left at 6:55pm. It was after 6 and we hadn't got our backs, collected Eliza's laundry or eaten anything since breakfast. With all the rush going on and with very limited time to spare we decided to separate to get things done quicker. Eliza went to get her laundry and I ran to order two take away pizzas in Cafe Nirvana across the street. Waiting on the order, the monsoon kicked in and I sat their watching my first official Delhi downpour. It was incredible but I couldn't quite enjoy the craziness of the weather knowing we had to get to the train which would take a good 10 minutes walk, maybe longer in the rain. With not a minute to spare Eliza arrived over to the cafe covered in bags and bags of stuff belonging to both of us. How she carried it all in the rain I will never know. We tried to hurry them up with our pizzas but with another 5 minutes to go until they were cooked we just decided to grab them and go, cooked or not. They slowly bagged them for us before we legged It out the door and tried to run up the road with our bags and pizzas in hand. With torrential rain pelting down on me, and slippery flip flops on my feet barely staying on, we made a sight for sore eyes in our rush to catch the train. Arriving at the station with barely minutes before the train was to depart, we headed for platform 12, of course it would be the furthest one away, and proceeded to get on the right sleeper carriage- which was conveniently at the end of the train. We ran to try and get on before it took off but my slippery shoes were holding me back and nearly making me trip over myself so I took the leap and ran barefoot through the filthy platform grounds. I didn't care. I would get on this train if it was the last thing I did. And we did! Barely.
Getting to our seats 25/26, and like drenched rats making our way down the crowded aisles of staring passengers, we found our seats which were occupied. Fuming we ordered the people out of them and squished in opposite three male backpackers which made us feel a tad safer. Everyone stared as we made a ruckus socking everyone around us and divulging our pizzas in the crowded train. We didn't care, we made it and we were hungry. After a while, the train took off and we were on our way to Varanasi, a 14hr train ride which took a lot longer than expected. Surrounded by staring creepy men, but with possible protectors beside us in the form of three backpackers, we chatted and watched a movie before pulling down our beds and laying down for the night. It was a very scary journey for me as I was in the bottom 'bunk' which was very accessible for strangers to plonk themselves down on, which happened regularly both before the lights went out and during the night. I made it known that I was having none of it by kicking a few of the unwelcome visitors in the back to warn them to get away, which seemed to work.
The night went very slowly and not feeling safe enough to close my eyes for more than an hour, I was laying there for most of the journey dying to get to my destination safe and In one piece. I envied everybody In higher bunks and told myself I would definitely be requesting these next time. If there will be a next time. The whole experience was very daunting but I was relieved to arrive safely and get off tat claustrophobic train before a near panic attack set in. Only for Eliza and her calming ways and change of topic I would have thrown myself off the train. It was very scary for me and I didn't think I would ever get off the bloody thing but I did, and I think I have survived what I had feared about Delhi. It was probably more paranoia but still, falling asleep in those surroundings was not something I felt comfortable doing, so I didn't. I watched a lot of Family Guy.
Arriving In Varanasi, we took an auto rickshaw- my first experience In India- to a hostel nearby, led by a very friendly Varanasi born driver and 'guide'. He told us some very useful info on the way and we loved this place straight away. We checked into Sanhya Guest House before having beautiful choclate and mango pancakes in the rooftop restaurant. After a VERY well needed shower we headed to reception and got a map. One of the hostel staff kindly took us down to the Holy Ganges river to see the dead bodies being ceremoniously cremated which was very daunting but actually very spiritual. Not for the faint hearted though, you could see the bodies properly on the fire, It was quite surreal. Amazing experience though. Following this, he took us to a local silk warehouse where we were invited in to see his collection. I bought a beautiful handmade scarf there. We then went to a clothes warehouse where I was in my element and bought one more pair of Indian baggy pants, which I love. We had a lovely cake and some tea and chats in a local bakery today before getting slightly lost on the way home and enjoying the light monsoon rain on our shoulders. The beeping of rickshaws around us and animals, particularly cows everywhere in the streets is becoming quite normal now and I am loving what India has given me and Is offering me. I am so excited for the rest of my trip and look forward to our sunrise boat trip down the Ganges river tomorrow morning. All hail India!
From Varanasi with love, Jade!