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Mystical Varanasi

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Cliches abound when talking about Varanasi. 'The holiest city in India', 'spiritual centre of Hinduism' - but despite those cliches, Varanasi remains a special place and fortunately hasn't been 'disney-fied' by the onset of tourism.

It's an intense experience, the kind of place that stays with you the rest of your life. Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi brings salvation, and ultimately it is this that gives a visit here its intensity. Death here is an everyday phenomenon, with funerals occurring openly on the waterfront on a regular basis, which can be a little disturbing for some. This intensity is lightened with some great opportunities for people watching elsewhere on the river, with people conducting ceremonial offerings and going about their daily ablutions - the river is the focal point for everything.

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