The swastika symbol still freaks me out when I see it, but it is actually an ancient Buddhist and Hindu symbol for peace and/or harmony. Nazis reversed it then adopted it as their symbol. We saw it everywhere in India and it always made me uneasy.
The Vishwanath or Golden Temple, is dedicated to Shiva and it is the most famous temple in Varanasi. It is located off an alley in Old Town, the entrance is an odd looking, old metal detector screenerDuring the busy season, this temple is usually off limits to foreigners, but we gave it a shot and got in. By coincidence I had thrown our passports in my bag because the hotel was a bit shady. We were frisked twice after we entered then the security guards took us to a place where we had to show our passports and they recorded our information into an old, large book. We followed a crowd of Hindus past an engraving that read “No Hindus allowed beyond this point.” We had lotus flowers to put into a pit that had a statue in it and water from the Ganges. Other people brought milk, money and fruit as offerings to the gods. We walked out into a mob of people and monkeys to another temple that had a big ball in it that was also filled with Ganges water. Flowers were flying, monkeys were climbing and the smell of sour milk hung heavy in the air.