31st December, 1935

Arrived Benares about 9am after nearly 13 hours in the train. Breakfast at Clark’s hotel and then a drive to the Monkey Temple, Golden Temple, Bazaars, etc. After lunch we visited the Buried Buddhist City of Sarnath, a visit to the Museum and then to Ramnagar to visit the Maharajah of Benares Palace. Very large but rather dilapidated and not to equal the Palace at Mysore for splendour. Plenty of cows and monkeys in the temples about here. Benares is spoken of as the holiest and dirtiest city in India but we have seen worse and this is the only place where mosquitoes and other insects have given us a miss. Mac is off to a fancy dress ball at the invitation of the bank agent so instead of waiting to see the New Year in I went off to bed. An old conjuror gave a show in the lounge at the hotel this evening, he performs each year at Blackpool. He did some wonderful tricks but not the Indian rope trick. In the hotel grounds we saw a display by acrobats and snake charmers. The snake charmers had a large collection of snakes, and there was a fight between a mongoose and a snake and the mongoose won by biting the snake’s head almost off. In another battle it crushed the head of another snake. Both were obviously dead but an old man picked up the first snake and fixed its head. He then got the other snake and put their heads together, propping them up with what looked like a dried seahorse. He made a few passes with his hands over them and went to the tail end of one and stroked it with a stone. After a time it showed signs of life and in a minute more he had to be quick to capture it. He then repeated the stroking on the other snake and it too after some coaxing came to life. They were then put into the basket ready for future fights.

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