Hindu Temples and beginings of buddhism in Sarnath

A trip to Varanasi would not be complete without stopping in Sarnath. Sarnath is where the Buddha first taught the Buddhist dharma.

Buddha taught from a stupa (large round shrines).

Also visiting were numerous colorful school kids (see background). They were excited to practice their English with us and energetically said hello to us as we walked by them.

Dhamekh Stupa

Offerings left outside the shrine.

Lots of people make the pilgrimage here.

Mulagandha Kuti Vihar temple

Walls tell the story of the start of Buddhism.

After our visit to Sarnath, we stopped to see some artisans and how some textiles are made.

This machine has cards that store the “program” for certain designs.

There is always an opportunity to purchase in India.

Along the way to our next stop we saw these children along the ride.

Queen’s College Benares (Now a Sanskrit University).

We stopped next at the old Queen’s College. Neat astronomy measuring equipment is located in the back of the building.

Bharat Mata Temple 

Finally we stopped at the Bharat Mata Temple. In the temple lies a large map of what was once all India territory.

The map represents what was once a very large and vast country but now has shrunken a bit over the years. It was very interesting to see.
I wish I would have had more time in Varanasi. I feel like more time was needed to soak in all the Hindu and Buddhist spiritual energy contained there.
Perhaps some day I will return again.

Varanasi Boat ride

After watching the amazing Aarti ceremony the night before, we woke up early the next day to take a boat ride down the Ganges.

This lady was selling neem sticks early in the morning. Chewing on neem is supposed to be good as a teeth cleaner.

Before we started our boat ride we enjoyed chai latte out of a clay pot. I was testing my digestive system and it did me well. This street purchase did not get me sick!

At dawn we started our boat ride.

As did many others.

We floated down the Ganges and got to see many different ghats (stairways along the water).

Another tourist boat was nearby and one brave guy decided to take a dip. Many devout Hindus consider this water to be holy and a dip in the river is extra special to them.

Laundry is also done by hand daily in the river. You will see this up and down the river.

Many colorful boats hang out around the ghats.

This lady was making an offering along the river.

We decided to give our own offering.

Cremations are held at either end of the Ganges. One end I could not photograph because out of respect but this one was currently not in use. You will notice the wood all around waiting for the next ceremony.

We got off the boat and I was given a blessing.

Nice mini temple in the water.

Cremation supplies

We took a walk around after our boat ride and visited some temples (no photos inside) but there were many of these temples around the alleyways.

Our Varanasi tour guide. He was very enthusiastic about his city.

 This cow would not let us pass and had a stinky butt.

After our early morning tour we went back to nap for an afternoon in Sarnath.

Varanasi: Aarti

We traveled to Varanasi by small airline. We arrived mid-day and were given some time to rest at the hotel before attending an Hindu Aarti ceremony by the Ganges.
The ceremony was at one of the ghats, or stairs, along the Ganges. A car could only take us so far so we had to walk the rest of the way to the river. We saw many bike commuters and rickshaws

And some cows in an argument.

Some half constructed buildings.

An american who now lives there makes an offering to a temple.

Crowds start gathering for the best seats.

We had the choice to sit in the middle of the action but instead we chose an aerial view and watched from a balcony.

As the sun set, the ceremony began.

People watching from boats

Making an offering

Short video of the ceremony.