Sarnath - Varanasi English

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
Trip End Jan 19, 2008

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Sarnath (also Mrigadava, Migad‚ya, Rishipattana, Isipatana) is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Isipatana is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit, if they wanted to visit a place for that reason (Wikipedia to explain why this place is so holy)

Well we got up and had a really nice breakfast. I got up first, as Anouk and chiel were still sleeping I decided to go to the internet for a while and I met a Canadian couple who I had been talking the night before. They are really interesting people who have been travelling around India for about three weeks. This morning they got up really early to take a little boat along the Ganges to see the sunrise and the burning ghats. They were telling me that it has been a really worthy experience, as they had seen really interesting things. They went to one of the main burning ghats, that is where the body of believers is burnt following a quite traditional ceremony. People are not allowed to mourn the dead ones during the ceremony. It is believed that if you remains go to the ganges, you will break the birth circle.

The Ganges cleanses all sins and ensures a release from the Hindu cycle of rebirths: it's an instant passport to heaven. Many elderly and ill people come to Varanasi to die, and old Sadhus congregate along the river banks. The burning ghats is where the dead are cremated. (lonely planet)

Hindis have a more posite idea about death than we do. As they consider death part of life, and death is really present on their lifes and beliefs. We try not to think about death and we try not to think about getting old and so on. I think that their idea is happier and somehow truer.

Anyway after all this conversation we finally decided to go to Sarnat, and we took a rickhaw to the Tibetan temple, where we took a really simple room for the three of us.
This village is really small and it if full of temples. We visited the japanese, the korean, and other temples. It was also the final day of the Durgha Puja and all the community shrines created specially for this party are taken to Varanasi and they obviously go in the Ganges. They had a tent were really loud and rythmic hindi music was playing, and lots of children were dancing to it. We went inside and started dancing and then they all made a circle around a child of maybe7 years old and me, and we were dancing. He really could dance, but he was getting too close.....

they said that their shrine was on its way to varanasi at two o'clock and it was 5 oclock when we finished eating and they were still there. (indian punctuality)

It felt really good to walk around in nature and far from busy and noisy varanasi. We found a turttle farm and the workers showed us around. they are breeding about 300 turtles here, some of them vegetarian and the other carnivorous. They are the natural way to clean the ganges. AS they eat the rest of the corpses and thei vegetable and other stuff that is lying around there.

At 7.00 pm, we went to a temple where a group of monks and followers were reading and praying the first words of the Buddha. It was really special to be able to be there.

At night we went to bed quite early and the following day we decided to see the modern museum and then back to varanasi. And then the funny thing with the ricshaws happend again. They really think that foreigners are silly, as the guy gave us a price and when we arrived to Varanasi he said that he couldn't get to our hotel or closer because the roads were closed to traffic. We already knew this trick and told him that we were not leaving his rickshaw until he took to Godalia, the roundabout closer to Meerghat, where the GAnpati guesthouse is. And so it was.

It was our last night with Anouk as today (24th of october she had to leave to go to Delhi and take her flight home), so we decided to go to a nice restaurant. After dinner we came back and the israeli couple we met at the hostel told us that the girl's dancer teacher husband was going to take them for a Ganges boat ride to watch the Sunrise. So we decided to join them, and this morning we did that. Anouk and me, chiel was too lazy!!!!!!!!!! It was well worth it, to see all this people bathing, cleaning their clothes, burning the corpses of their love ones, seeing people's face waiting for their death, cows, gooses, goats and their respective excrements, mixed with tourist, touts and children selling postcards, and so on. This is all so different to what I am used to, and to what I have been growing up with, that I can't really comprehend why these people and this country works like this. But i have stopped thinking why they do what they do, and even questioning and the reasons of why they behave the way they do. I even don't compare or even less judge anymore. I just watch and sometimes get overloaded with noise, information and colours.

Anouk left today, and I felt quite sad to say goodbye. But i will see her again soon.

Tonight we are taking the train from varanasi to Gorakpur and tomorro whopefully cross the border to Nepal.

I hope to sleep well in the train tonight.

lots of kisses to everybody
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