Our guide picked us up before 6 AM (ugh) to return us to the Ganges. This is the time the pilgrims come to bathe in the river. Not only is it terribly polluted; we felt cold with jackets, hats and scarves on! Needless to say, we watched from the boat.
Before launching, we received a blessing for a healthy and happy life from one of the priests. After a row to see some other temples and gahts, we got off the boat by the crematorium for a closer look. We then walked through the narrow streets of the old town. There is a Muslim mosque and Hindu temple next door to each other so there was a good deal of security. You cannot go inside the Hindu temple unless you are officially Hindi. We were dropped by the hotel for breakfast and a break. We then went to a small village nearby called Sarnath where Buddha gave his first sermon. Our guide happens to have a degree in philosophy so he has been very informative about religions, gods and ceremonies. There were Buddhists from all over the world – Tibet, Nepal, etc. It was a fascinating learning experience.