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January 14, 2017

India Day 15 – Varanasi

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 2:42 pm
Tags: , , , ,

15/10/16

No I don’t want a tuktuk!!
No you can’t take a picture with me!
Just a couple of the questions we consistently get asked while we are out. It seems to be fashionable for Indians to ask white people to pose with them for a photo. After the first few times, it ceases to be fun.

Des and a few cadets, Sarnath

Des and a few cadets, Sarnath

Headed to the Sarnath area today. This was the place where buddha preached his first sermon and the laws of buddhism were founded. Also saw the archaeological ruins of the earlier Buddhist monastries and went through the Sarnath Archeological Museum, which not surprisingly had a lot of old things in it… very old! Most of these were found when the area was being excavated during the 1800’s and early 1900’s, and the museum itself was opened in 1910. Some of the items are very well preserved and some are dated at 250BC. Even if you’re not interested in the museum, it’s really cheap and is air conditioned. It provides a nice break from the heat outside.

Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath

Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath

The gardens in general, especially in the ruins area, are nice and cool(ish/er), with the absence of the hustle and bustle of the streets and car horns bringing welcome peace. It was just unfortunate that we happened to time our visit perfectly with the hundreds of cadets who were visiting at the same time – who of course wanted photos with us. Unfortunately there was some guy there who decided he wanted a souvenir of the area and broke off a few bricks, then helped himself to them from the ruins. I don’t know why people would do that, there’s enough destruction of historical landmarks happening across the world as it is, without some rouge guy doing more damage.

Excavation area, Sarnath

Excavation area, Sarnath

Saw the Sri Lankan Buddhist temple and I think the Thai one, different styles of buildings, but by then I’d had enough, so I think I may have missed a few of the others.

The trip back to the hotel was similar to the one there. An autorickshaw (tuktuk) motoring (when possible) through chaotic streets at a rather slow pace due to the traffic. I think it was another public holiday today. It’s always interesting driving through the streets though, because it lets you observe everyday life. We saw the “milk market” where milk is bought and sold in the mornings – this was a gathering of a heap of people, with some large milk cans around the place, motor bikes, people shopping, cooking, getting to work, street stalls, waiting for the buses, bringing offerings to the small hindu temples on a few street corners – the list was endless, all the while dodging cows and traffic.

The crowd behind is the milk market, Varanasi

The crowd behind is the milk market, Varanasi

Some of the buses looked like they’d been in a few scrapes, either heading down roads too narrow, or more than likely, pushing their way into lanes of traffic and scraping against the side. It was a reminder not to hang out the side of the autorickshaw at all, you never knew what you could crash into!

Seen better days - Bus, Varanasi

Seen better days – Bus, Varanasi

Later that arvo I headed to catch a last look at the Ganges river before catching the train to Agra.
It was another autorickshaw to the train station, through the traffic, then on to the train for the night. As soon as the train started pulling into the station, the Indians in the lower class carriages started running and jumping on the train, some even through the windows, obviously so that they could get a good seat for the night. That’s something unique to India. Note that the picture below is not our carriage!

Carriage to Agra (not ours)

Carriage to Agra (not ours)

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