Tigray is sadly best known in the developed world for its famines and as the war-torn front in the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. What it should be known for, however, is its 120 rock-hewn churches; some dating back to the 5th century, hidden away on mountain-tops and built into caves on high cliff faces.
Twice I’ve visited Lalibela for ‘Genna’ and the scene is truly awe-inspiring. Around 100,000 pilgrims, largely the rural poor, many of whom have walked for weeks, often barefoot, arrive to celebrate the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas. As the local villagers feed them, they camp where they can, often sleeping shoulder to shoulder on whatever bare patch
Many holy men inhabit the ghats of Varanasi. These sadhus, often dressed in saffron coloured clothes, are sanyasi – men who have renounced material attachments in their quest for moksha, the liberation from the cycle of life. Having wandered all over the subcontinent many pass through and some settle in Varanasi, where meditation and daily