Touring Varanasi

14 February 2011

The start of the day could not have been more perfect. It was another early start, but it was well worth it to see the sunrise over the Ganges. When we arrived there were many people setting up their market stalls. Down by the steps of the river people were having their morning wash in the river. We stepped into our boat and the sun was slowly rising, it was a magnificent sight to behold.

We returned to our hotel for brunch and at about 10 o’clock we set off to Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhism. First we visited a relatively new Buddhist temple that was built in the 1930’s, we learnt the story about how Prince Siddartha grew up, how he found enlightenment and eventually founded the religion itself through beautiful frescos painted on the walls inside the temple. Just a few metres away was a bodi tree descended from the one under which Prince Siddartha reached enlightenment and gave his first sermon to his five disciples. We then visited an archaeological site dating back to the 6th century BC, uncovered by English archaeologists. We saw the remains of a number of stupas: large cylindrical constructions originally built to contain a small amount of the Buddha’s ashes and to act as a focal point and place of worship for Buddhists. We learnt of Buddha’s first teaching regarding finding the middle ground between self indulgence and self deprivation.

It was a very peaceful place with many visiting Buddhists from south-eastern Asian countries meditating and chanting around the main stupa. We also learnt that the original stupa would have been 61 metres in height; so 13 metres higher than Humayan’s tomb, yet considerably older. The Moghul invasion had brought Islam to India and Buddhism had declined as a result. Today there are fewer Buddhists in India than Christians. We also visited the neighbouring museum that contained both Buddhist and Hindu carvings, inscriptions and statues from the site, including a beautiful carved representation of the Buddha which was our guide’s favourite.

We concluded the day by returning to our hotel to enjoy a relaxing afternoon by the pool and this evening we are going to celebrate Dominic’s 19th birthday, WOOO!

Comments:

Olivia

@ 2412 days ago

Happy Birthday young padawan! You look a treat in that photo of you with the cake, that’s one for the family album. Glad you look like you’re having as much fun as we hoped you would, and looking forward to hearing how the spiritual journey is going as well…just don’t get any tattoos that you think say peace but actually mean chlamydia (sound advice). Olivia xx

Theresa

@ 2412 days ago

Hi all. What a spectacular sight that must have been – to watch the sunrise this morning. You’ve certainly done an incredible amount of travelling in a week. We’re all enjoying following your travels. Sabina, we’ve tried to contact you but your ‘phone can’t take our calls. Missing you and looking forward to hearing what another day brings. Safe travelling! And a happy birthday to Dominic! x

Pearse White

@ 2412 days ago

Hi Sabina missing you lots cant wait for you to come back home,its very quiet at home without you, hope your having lots of fun i wish i was there with you because it looks amazing there and the photos are really good. Love you sis. xxx

Tricia

@ 2412 days ago

Happy Birthday Dominic!
Millie – you just know how much I love photos of the sunrise – it must have been amazing this morning – can’t wait to see ALL the photos – keep posting as many as possible – really enjoying all the details of your travels and experiences – so many of us wish we were there with you .. lots of love and, a little belatedely – Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. ;-) X

12AL

@ 2411 days ago

Dear All, 12 Al are reading your blog and wishing you all a happy and healthy trip. The photos make the blog very interesting. Have fun.
Sabina ~ Sionnan ‘get home quick and lots of love xx’
Joe ~ Hope you are having a really good time, love from Eimile x

See you all after half term.

Mrs Scales

St Johns Primary school year 5

@ 2411 days ago

We just like to wish a belated birthday to Dominic we hope that you all enjoyed the birthday celebrations… 19 it’s all down hill from now on!
Thank you so much for the information,the pictures of the sunrise over the Ganges were beautiful and have inspired us to create pastel reproductions for our art lessons.( Mr creedon will be pleased). Thank you for telling us about the monkeys WOO HOO do you know what type of monkeys they were?
We can’t believe you went to McDonalds… have you kept your toys?
What was the ride in the rickshaws like? they seemed quite cramped.
What are the temperatures like? We hope you are keeping cool.
All of us here would like to send you a special thank you for all that you are doing. It has opened all our eyes to a whole new world.
God Bless…. you are all in our prayers.

P.S. did you know that one of our year 5s has a nan that has a second name Gandee ….We wonder if we might have a special one within our midst!

St John's School - Year 2

@ 2411 days ago

Happy birthday for yesterday Dominic! Did you get any Valentines? Hope you’re all having a great time. Just heard you were getting on a train for 14 hours – hope you sleep well. We hope you have a good time at Udyan and enjoy working with the children their. Shauna – your Mum is a great teacher and she is working with us tomorrow! Please let us know how you get on – we are looking forward to seeing you all when you return. If you buy a sitar can you bring it with you, please Dominic. We are all interested to find out what it sounds like.

Love and God Bless from Year 2 and Mrs Wallington

Natalie

@ 2410 days ago

Dom, tattoo advice goes a long way, listen to your sis! Hope you had a fab birthday – journey looks amazing, will hear all when you get back x