US influencer Aparna Singh travelled to the Indian city of Varanasi for a work trip, where she was meeting the manufacturers of her jewellery brand ‘Indian Goddess Boutique’. Varanasi is known as the spiritual capital of India.
After arriving in Varanasi, Singh uploaded a TikTok about her experience there, with the caption “Scariest city I ever visited: Varanasi, India.”
She said in the video: “The scariest city I have been to is Varanasi, India – Ganges River which is really polluted, full of sewage.”
Singh added that she could see people “bathing in it”, and that she could see “dead bodies being burnt” on the way to her hotel, which she referred to as “creepy”.
The influencer also complained that she had to “walk up 40 stairs” to reach her room and described the interiors of the hotel as “old and scary”.
She continued: “To go in and out of the hotel you got to go through this shady alley, you see people sleeping in the middle of the street, even dogs.”
“This place really freaked me out,” she added. “Very scary.”
But many viewers found the video offensive, branding her comments “disrespectful” and “ignorant”. One said: “I wonder why you chose ‘IndianGoddessBoutique’ name huh?”
But other commenters came to Singh’s defence, commenting that it was “experience” and she should be permitted to share her opinion.
Singh later said in a later video that her parents were both from the state of Uttar Pradesh, which is where Varanasi is located.
Following the backlash, she uploaded another video apologising for coming across as “disrespectful”. She said: “Like I said I would like to apologise because I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful. I was simply just saying my experience.”
“Maybe it was the tone, the music, she said. “I have been travelling everywhere and I have been posting about Jaipur, I’ve been posting about Mumbai.
“Y’all don’t care about the good videos I post but as soon as I say the bad experience I had, it just blown up – TikTok, that’s how y’all are.”