There is a common belief among Hindus that dying at the Death Hotel in the holy city of Varanasi will save their souls. Thousands of people find their way to this place to wait for their final breath in a peaceful manner.
People arrive in battered cars, on wheelchairs, and even on stretchers catching their last breath at the Death Hotel. Some of them end up in elderly homes overlooking the Ganges river and hoping to get cremated at the Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan, or Salvation House. However, as the place is reserved for those who only have a few days to live, there is a difficulty to come here.
According to the South China Morning Post, around 20 men and women, from around the world, come to Varanasi to spend their remaining days at the Death Hotel. The place is described to be an old red colonial-era building with 12 concrete floor rooms.
Hindus have a strong belief that dying in Varanasi makes them free from the "eternal cycle of life and death incarnation." If they also have the chance to get cremated in the Ganges, it is a big spiritual bonus for them
Staying at the Death Hotel has a limit per person. The maximum number of days that people can use a room is two weeks. Mukti Bhawan's caretaker for over four decades Bhairav Nath Shukla even said most of their residents pass away within a few days.
However, there is an exception. "Some people were really sick but were still alive after more than a week," Shukla said. "Sometimes we ask their family to take them home and come back again later. Sometimes we let them stay longer."
Free Malaysia Today added that with the growing development in Varanasi, Mukti Bhawan, which is run by a charity, residents don't have the view of the Ganges river anymore. But, they can't deny people still choose this place to die.
Visitors have traveled from far places to come to the Death Hotel. Some of them are even taking a plane ride, from a foreign country, or an isolated Indian village.
The residents only have to pay one dollar per day for a room and a fan. An elderly "pandit" Hindu priest give the people daily prayers and Ganges water, which Hindus consider "pure and holy." For residents who are quite well-off, they can hire a local Hindu choir to sing holy songs for the sick residents.
Shukla estimates there were about 15,000 people that have died at the Death Hotel, and taken to the Ganges for cremation since it opened in 1908. He also added the future of Mukti Bhawan's path to salvation remains bright as the Hindus remain to believe in Varanasi's spiritual powers.