Varanasi

The ghats of Benaras – a place like no other

The ghats of Benaras – a place like no other

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Numerous invaders came, ruled and left. All of them tried, in their own way, to superimpose their own ideas, their beliefs on the land they had conquered. Yet, in the end, they had to retreat, vanquished by a spiritual force that was beyond their comprehension. The all-knowing Ganga, unperturbed by such delusions of grandeur,  gently flows along these blessed ghats as she has been doing since the beginning of time.

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Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhism

Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhism

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Sarnath, probably a corruption of Saranganath, is the birthplace of Buddhism. It is here, 26 centuries ago, that Gautama Buddha delivered his first ever sermon after attaining enlightenment. A massive monument, the Dhameka Stupa, was erected at this spot by the Magadhan Emperor Asoka.

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Kashi – a spiritual sojourn

Kashi – a spiritual sojourn

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Kashi has temples everywhere, a dozen of which are important; hundreds of smaller ones  crop up in unexpected places: along the river bank, in cul-de-sacs,  under trees and in various nooks and corners of its byzantine lanes. The origin of some is lost in antiquity, some of them are less than a century old but the holiest of them all, the Vishwanath Temple is the cynosure of Hindu pilgrims. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas (manifestations of the Lord as Light) of Saivism.

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The magic of Kashi Vishwanath, Varanasi

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We were back to Varanasi around 2 PM. Our driver dropped us near Thatheri Bazar as we wanted to explore the area on foot ourselves. Bronze and brass products especially ornaments are sold here. Another purpose for coming to this market to enjoy the “Ram Bhandar” which is quite famous for amazing Poori, Sabzi and kachori.

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Varanasi

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I do not care for the ‘truths’ they have faith in or the ‘lies’ they spread. This is not the first cremation that I am descrying nor shall it be the last, but in this moment, I’ve understood the human endeavor of fighting death with life. The answer to the fears of our faith is in welcoming it with our arms wide open and embracing it like a long lost brother. It’ll be perhaps in this gesture that the faithful shall be granted nirvana.

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Around a 1000 strong crowd has gathered to see what is a daily ritual but is as powerful and enchanting as it must have been a 1000 years ago. The spiritual seekers have loaded the boats – some to get a better view, some for better pictures and some for their beliefs – an adventure of a lifetime. The head priest is crying hoarse asking people to sit down calmly – all the skills of a masterful showman.

So much for the lonely moksha… (sigh)

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A visit to Banaras or Varanasi

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Our next destination Sarnath is about 10 km from Ramnagar. On the way to Sarnath, we saw Sher Shah Suri Makbara. We were at Sarnath around 1 pm and we all were hungry. So, we first ate Dosha and drank Cold Drink in Vaishali restaurant.

We hired a guide there, guide told us that Sarnath has five main point; Ashoka Stupa, Main Temple campus, Japanese Temple, Sachi Stupa and God Budha statue. Ashoka Stupa ruins and Bodhi Tree inside main temple campus are famous and most important place in Sarnath. Main temple is designed in Japanese temple architecture and walls inside the temple have been painted related to God Budha life. We visited all points but we did not explore much due to very hot day.
“भगवान बुद्ध की विशालकाय मूर्ति, मंदिर के दीवारो पर चित्रित उनकी जीवनी, बोधिवृक्ष के नीचे पाँच मित्रों के साथ बनी उनकी मूर्ति उस समय का अनुभव कराती है ।”

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Music by the ghats of Varanasi – The Mahindra Kabira Festival

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Mrs. Sucharita Gupta. While Harpreet sang some soulful self-composed pieces on Kabir, Mrs. Gupta worked her magic with thumris, bhajan and you-name-it on Kabir. It is another level of performance when the artist herself feels elated and wants to continue performing bringing out new stuff from the bag. And classical/semi-classical Indian Music works well with our taste and sensibilities. So it was, as they say, magical!

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