(PICTURE: A man praying in the Ganges.)
From Lonely Planet: The River Ganges provides millions of Indians with an important link to their spirituality. Every day about 60,000 people go down to the Varanasi ghats to take a holy dip along a 7km stretch of the river. Along this same area, 30 large sewers are continuously discharging into the river.
The Ganges River is so heavily polluted at Varanasi that the water is septic - no dissolved oxygen exists. The statistics get worse. Samples from the river show the water has 1.5 million faecal coliform bacteria per 100mL of water. In water that is safe for bathing this figure should be less than 500!
Huyen and I saw people drinking from the Ganges. DRINKING! I mean it's one thing to bathe in shit but to drink it. Ohhhhh man...
(PICTURE: A swim class. Notice the instructor has a tube for himself.)
(PICTURE: People taking a morning bath.)
(PICTURE: A happy bather.)