Varanasi, one of the most holy Hindu sites, is a chaotic place where thousands of pilgrims flock to each day in order to wash their sins away in the polluted Ganges River. It is also a place where the dead are cremated at the riverside ghats, and those who die in the city are liberated from the continuous cycle of death and re-birth. For me the cycle seems to continue - I was here at Varanasi in October, and 5 months later here I am again. In fact, recently I've been back to a number of places I've previously visited on my way through India. On the other hand, as Leana and I have been working our way North towards Nepal, we've had the time to divert from the main roads and have seen many interesting things which I'd previously missed. Amongst these are the Lord Jagarnath Temple at Puri (photo), and the Sun Temple at Konark (night photo). We've also cycled through areas where foreign tourists are seldom seen, particularly in the States of Bihar and Jharkand (even in the capital cities of these 2 states - Patna and Ranchi - most budget hotels don't accommodate foreigners). On occasion we were again swamped by the media, with exposure in both the local papers and the TV news. Earlier this month we witnessed the national celebration of Holi (Hindu Day), where everyone rubs paint on each others faces and coloured liquid is thrown on clothing. Tourists aren't spared in the process (I was pleased to find that the colour washes out), and neither are animals (see photo of pink duck). During the couple of festival days it's fairly common to see cows, goats, and dogs sheepishly sporting bright technicolour coats. Our original intention was to take the shortest route North to Nepal via Patna, where I've had some cycle spares posted. Unfortunately not all of the spares had arrived, so in the mean time we diverted to Varanasi, which Leana has not yet seen. The Old City area with it's riverside ghats and chaotic narrow maze of alleys, is quite an interesting place (Holy Cows and Holy Men included - No, that's not a recent photo of myself!). We will soon return to Patna, and I hope the rest of the cycle spares will be there, as I've now cycled about 2000 km with a broken rear axle (with my fingers crossed). Daily distances cycled since my last update from Visakhapatnam have been:- Srikakulam 109 km; Palasa 89 km; Gupalpur 93 km; Balagoan 86 km; Puri 169 km; Konark 45 km; Bhubaneshwar 64 km; Chandikhol 81 km; Balasore 137 km; Baripada 58 km; Ghatsila 99 km; Jamshedpur 50 km; Bundu 94 km; Ranchi 47 km; Hazaribag 95 km; Bodhgaya 126 km; Patna 135 km; Ara 65 km; Buxar 74 km; Varanasi 135 km. Total distance cycled since Cape Town is 37 507 km.