India

Varanasi

Varanasi

24-26 September 2019

Varanasi“Older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, And looks twice as old as all of them put together ” – Mark Twain

Situated on a cresent moon shaped bend in the river Ganges, Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world and the holiest of the Hindu pilgrim centers.

Varanasi – “Older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, And looks twice as old as all of them put together ” – Mark Twain

We stayed at the 200 year old Ganpati Guest House in a room with a balcony over The Holy River Ganges.

From the main road it’s an interesting 15 minute walk along ancient narrow lanes, too narrow for even a rickshaw, to the Guesthouse.

Ganges from Ganpati Guest House
Monsoon was a month late this year. The river was in flood and fast flowing so no boats were operating
A pity, we would have liked to see Varanasi from the River at dawn
Illustration from the Ramayana on a rooftop
Ganga Aarti is a Hindu ritual preformed every evening at sunset on a platform over the Ganges
Normally you can take a boat to see it from the River

We spent 6 hours wandering around old Varanasi with Pappu, a guide from Varanasi Walks.

Here’s a few pictures of what we saw.

A cheap and easy way to get around Varanasi
Demolition of centuries of illegally built houses between the Golden Temple and the Ganges has revealed hundreds of forgotten small temples which will now be restored
Burning Ghat on the Ganges where cremations are performed
Men ready to bathe in the Ganges
Blue Lassi has been serving thick, hand-made fruit-filled yoghurt drinks for over 90 years – delicious
This small cafe is so famous the queue can easily be an hour long
Lovely old buildings are being restored; the mess of electric wires taken down
Just off the noise and chaos of the main street, there is calm
Another different style of temple
Street vendors – man sharpening knives on a bicycle, women selling vegetables and flowers
Pappu, our guide from Varanasi Walks
When the Ganges level is lower, there is a series of steps (ghats) leading down to the River

Sarnath

26 September 2019

Sarnath is the place, about 15 kilometres from Varanasi, where Lord Buddha made his first sermon after his enlightenment in 528 BCE. Buddha’s first 5 disciples expanded to today’s 500 million followers and it all started here in Sarnath. Consequently, it’s one of the 4 main Buddhist pilgrimage destinations.

44 meter high Dhamekh Stupa built 500 CE to replace the original 250 BCE structure
Deer Park of Sarnath – local legend has it that Buddha once took the form of a deer
The 2 meter high Ashokan lion capital carved from sandstone and polished to shine like granite in 250 BCE is now the national emblem of India