Asia

Excursion to Sarnath and walk on the Ganges in Varanasi

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I woke up knowing that it was already dawn, but not wanting to get out of bed. His nose was frozen, indicating that he was still outside the same glacial temperature the day before. After putting on courage, I ran out of the sleeping bag and dressed in record time. That morning the shower was ruled out, because I didn't feel like catching pneumonia.

We went down to breakfast at the restaurant of the guest house, with the intention of eating something fast and going to spend the morning at Sarnath. As I mentioned in the previous post, the word Quick It is one of those that you have to leave out of the suitcase, because to bring us tea and some sandwiches it took more than 40 minutes. Meanwhile, talking with other guests, we learned that because of the fog and the cold, the trains were accumulating delays of up to 24 hours. We got a little scared because the next day we had to catch a train night to Agra more than 11 hours long and even thinking that the journey could be extended more than 30 hours as in the previous days we did not like anything, really.

After breakfast we went to reception, where our driver had been waiting for almost half an hour tuk-tuk To take us to Sarnath. Loaded with two drums of gasoline, he accompanied us winding through the narrow, dirty and colorful streets of Varanasi until we reached the market where the taxi had left us the day before and we got into the vehicle. We dodged every living bug at lightning speed while the icy air left us frozen in the back. When we finally arrived, I didn't feel my ears, I touched them to check that they were still in place, but I didn't get an answer until a few hours later.

Sarnath is about 40 minutes from Varanasi and is one of the four central places of Buddhist pilgrimage because this is where Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment in Bodhgaya. Although it may seem obvious, what was most surprising to me was the change of environment, moving from a Hindu pilgrimage center to a Buddhist pilgrimage center.

In 640 BC, Sarnath had a 100 meter high stupa and 1,500 monks lived in the various monasteries in the area. All that fell into oblivion little by little until 1835, in which British archaeologists rediscovered the city. That morning we visited several temples and ended up visiting the Dhamekh stupa, which claims to be the exact place where Buddha preached the archifamoso sermon. Around the building, dozens of faithful surrounded her as they made their prayers and in the side gardens, many other faithful prayed in a way she had never seen before. Standing, clasped palms, knees and finally stretched completely on the floor and then get back up.

Over there we spent a couple of hours weathering the cold as we could. While we were returning to tuk-tuk, I was approached by a small child asking for alms. The truth is that during the trip many people did not approach me, and that surprised me a little. For all that they had explained to me before I went, I thought that people would rush to ask me for money, but that was not the case. I went to buy fruit to give the child and an old woman who also approached me, and while giving the child bananas, some drivers of tuk-tuk They said to me laughing: also give the woman, who is poor. If I was going to give the woman, but instead of telling me as if it were funny, you could also give her something, right?

My partner Rita went on a trip to India for work a few months ago and visited some NGOs that work in the northern area. When he returned, he returned shattered, he told me that they were not only wrong, but that they also did nothing to remedy it. That this was what they had to live this life, and that the next one would be better. For her it was very frustrating, and I suppose that was exactly what she meant with the lord of the tuk-tuk, the boy, the old woman and the bananas.

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