Simply the most magical place on earth, the holiest city on the Ganges River, where the rituals of life and death are conducted day after day without being hidden away from outsiders' eyes. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth (allegedly, at least 3000 years old), Varanasi stands as a grand metaphor for human existence and a painful revelation of life's transience. Hindus believe that the passage from life to death by the Ganges in Varanasi gives one the bliss of freedom from the burden of material life. They come here to perform daily chores and purification rituals, and to wash their dead for one last time before cremating them on open funeral pyres on the ghats... The city is a subject of a dazzlingly beautiful, haunting film by Robert Gardner "Forest of Bliss" and is inseparable from it in my memory.

A Ghat
A Saddhu
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