Pilgrims Bathing in the Sacred Ganges, Benares, India

Special Collections > Keystone Slides
tiff scanned file from original glass slide
Benares is one of the oldest cities in the world. It has been the holy city of the Hindus for over 25 centuries. It is located 420 miles northwest of Calcutta, on the left bank of the Ganges River, the holy river of the Hindus. Benares has a population of about 200,000. Its streets are narrow, crooked, dirty, and lined with Hindu temples. It is connected with Calcutta by railroad, and is a commercial center of great wealth. It manufactures silk and beautiful cloths of gold. But its greatest importance is due to the fact that it is a religious center. The banks of the Ganges on both sides are lined with gaudy temples with shiny domes. These temples contain great images of monkey gods. Monkeys chatter in the trees, in great numbers. But no matter what a monkey does, he is never punished, for he is a sacred animal. Cattle are sacred also. Hindus never kill cattle. Flights of stairs lead from the waters of the Ganges to the temple doors. Thousands of men and women each year bathe in the sacred Ganges and drink its waters. Here they bring the sick and the dying. They believe if a man dies with his feet in the waters of the Ganges, he will have millions of years of happiness in the future life. If a man is not near the Ganges when he dies, his friends bring the dead body here, bathe it, and then wrap it in a white cloth. They carry the body to a pile of wood, burn it, and scatter the ashes over the waters. Only the men are bathing before this temple. There is a separate place for the women. The water here is slimy and dirty, yet the Hindus drink as much as they possibly can while they are bathing. They also carry home large bottles filled with water for their friends. Keystone ID: 12556 Note: All titles, descriptions, and location coordinates are from the original Keystone Slide documentation as supplied by the Keystone View Company. No text has been edited or changed.
Copyright by the Keystone View Company. The original slides are housed in McConnell Library's Special Collections.