The city of Varanasi sits at the edge of the Ganges River, a gateway between the physical and the spiritual worlds. It is the hub of the Hindu world and a destination for countless pilgrims. They come to bathe in the Ganges River, to wash away the sins of a lifetime, laying their clothes out to dry on the ghats (terraces). Once clean they can perform puja, a ritual designed to show respect to the gods.

Others come here to die. Hindus believe that dying in this labyrinthine old city ensures unshackling of a person’s soul from the cycle of its transmigrations. Their bodies are cremated on the ghats, the remains released into the holy water of the Ganges.

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