Varanasi

7 February 2009

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Our third (and last!) early morning started at 5.30am. We met our tour guide who took us down to the River Ganges. We were lucky enough to be able to watch the sun rise from our rowing boat surrounding by many pilgrims at prayer. We were given flowers which held a candle to place into the river, watching them all drift away behind us was a special moment. This beautiful and amazing experience highlighted their dedication and showed how devout they are.

During our boat trip we saw cremations taking place on the banks of the Ganges. The Hindus bring their dead to be cremated and scattered in the river. If a person dies elsewhere in India then the ashes can be brought to the Ganges to be scattered. However, if the cremation takes place at the Ganges then they have to be scattered along the river banks. Hindus believe that this ceremony will allow them to be liberated from re-incarnation which is why so many make this journey. We then walked through the narrow lanes alongside the river passing many temples and markets.

Afterwards, we visited the university in Varanasi, which boasts the largest campus in India. At the university we saw their temple and we all got a chance to jump up and ring the bell. After a much needed breakfast we went on an excursion to Sarnath, about 10km from Varanasi. This site is of great importance in the history of Buddhism as it is thought that Sarnath is where Buddha gave his first sermon. Afterwards we visited the archaeological museum of Buddha. Here we saw many statues of Buddha, some which have sadly been defaced. However, they were still extremely beautiful and relatively well preserved. We came back to the hotel for lunch and to relax for the rest of the day in preparation for our long trip tomorrow on an overnight train to Calcutta.

Comments:

Sophie Bainton

@ 3205 days ago

Guys, yet again this all looks so amazing, its the first time i have got to look at it all today and so have taken a well earnt “study break” catching up! My cousin is heading out to India in a couple of weeks and my envy comes early! it just looks breath taking!

Hope your all well, enjoy every minute and good luck with the next leg of the trip!

Trish – have you heard about lee mead’s engagement? i am actually slightly heartbroken!

looking forward to hearing the next bit!

love sophie xxxx

Roberta Boxshall

@ 3205 days ago

Lovely to see your photos and share in these wonderful, spiritually uplifting experiences. Sorry to hear your train to Kolkata was delayed for 3 hours, but you must be on the way by now. (Hope your tummy is feeling better soon, Amy.) We drove out into the Buckinghamshire countryside today to catch the last of the snow and to try to photograph some red kites (not too successfully I’m afraid. We had a pub lunch and then got back home around 3pm to gather our thoughts for work tomorrow. Geoff is going to Down House in Kent (Darwin’s home) as an invited guest for a special commemorative day there. I hope it doesn’t snow again overnight, otherwise he might have to cancel. I’ll be back at St Joan’s as usual. Thinking of you. Love mum and dad x x x

Abi Whittaker

@ 3205 days ago

Wow Guys (Hi Amy, Emma and Anna) Sounds amazing. Lovely to see you all in photos too. Amy sorry to hear your not feeling great. We are snowtastic up here in Hemel Hempstead, been missing you Ames for snowplay !!! Love you. Abi, Mark, Maddi, Minnie and Libby xx

Natalie Boxshall and James Latham

@ 3203 days ago

Hi Team St Joans

This looks truly fabulous – sunrise on the ganges is fantastic and calm and beautiful. The photos are wonderful. It is so lovely to be able to see what you guys are up to. Amy love you and miss you loads xxx