Just after switching off the snooze for nth time, I opened one eye, peeped into my phone to check the time. My phone reflected 0445 hrs. What followed was a silent shout inside my head and many curses for being an absolute jerk. Somehow managed to get ready by 0505hrs and found the group waiting for latecomers like me. Visualize me smirking at myself while I write this.
The boat ride starts from Harishchandra ghat till Manikarnika ghat and back to Dasaswamedh ghat. Listen to the legends and stories behind each ghat from your boatman. Varanasi has a total of 87 ghats and each ghat has a legend, story or history to relate to its name. Ask the boat man to sing local folk songs and he would happily oblige.
The hour long boat ride gives you a glimpse of various early morning activities of the pilgrims by the ghats right from bathing to offering prayers to filling the holy Ganges water in small bottles and carry it back home. I have seen many sunrises from mountain tops but this one was different and the Sun doesn’t disappoint. It peeps out yawning from behind the morning mist. Peachy and bright.
Sarnath – The birth place of Buddhism. The place where Buddha gave his first sermon to five of his former companions, who then found the first Sangha (Community of the enlightened ones).
After having done with the sunrise boat ride and satiating our appetites with breakfast of famous Banaras ki Khasta Kachaudi from the Kachauri Galli, I headed for Sarnath.
Sarnath is 15kms away from Varanasi. If you book a direct auto-rikshaw for Sarnath, the charge is around INR500 for a round trip. Looking for a cheaper option? You may head to Cantt in a sharing tuk-tuk from Godaulia square (charge- INR20) and another sharing auto-rikshaw from Cantt to Sarnath (Charge- INR30).
A sense of serenity embraces you the moment you step inside the temple. Like all burdens of heart being lightened by the equanimity of the place itself. I do not remember for how long I sat inside the temple and did not wish to keep tab on time.
The Sarnath Archeological Museum is at 2 mins distance from the temple. There is an entry fees of INR15 for the museum. A visit to the museum is worthwhile. Here stands the famous Ashokan Lion Capital that was originally set atop the Ashokan Pillar. The Dhamek Stupa, The broken pillars of The Ashoka Pillar (at their original place) and the Deer Park are few of the highlights of the ruins of Sarnath.
There is a small Digambar Jain temple situated between the Buddhist Temple and the Museum premises. After paying a brief visit to the temple, I headed back for Varanasi. The Diwali celebrations at the hostel awaited me. Coming up next – The Flavors Of Varanasi
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