Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Jan 2: Ride to Sarnath, Stop at Varanasi(part 2 of 3)

Immediately, I was approached by a local, saying he will guide me
around for cheaper, 30 rupees to be precise. Most people seem to think
I'm not well off, just by seeing my cycle. That's why I make it a
point never to take out my camera till I strike a deal :-) In this
case, it turned out to be a bad deal. Sarnath, like Bodhgaya, has
temples constructed by other countries. This 'guide' showed me to the
Tibetan and Japanese temples, and the local saree weaving factory, got
me back, and said 'apni seva khatam'(my service is over).

The Japanese temple has a sandalwood idol of Buddha in the sleeping
sideways pose (that's supposed to be the way he left this world). The
tibetan temple has more prominent protests against China!

Varanasi/Benaras/Kashi (yes, they are all the same place) has a
special attraction for ladies - it's well known silk sarees. Earlier,
the zari work on the sarees used to be made of pure gold. Cheaper
substitues are used now-a-days. It apparently takes 7 days to make one
saree on the loom. The shops around Sarnath claim to sell sarees at
25-35% less compared to Benaras.

Coming to the real attractions. The ruins comprise a few monastaries,
temples and a huge stupa. All made mostly of brick. The temples have
bases made of engraved stone. There is a pillar with inscriptions too,
but it seems broken.

The real attractions are stashed away in the beautifully maintained
ASI museum. No photography and no mobile phones allowed. The
showpiece, the national emblem, the 'lion seal' is taller than me,
made of rock hard stone and is very well polished. It's in very fine
shape. Only one of the four lions has a disfigured face. Particularly
impressive are the assembled broken pieces of one large broken wheel
(looks like the wheel of a rath) - again taller than me. There are
also, obviously, umpteen Buddha and related statues. Sarnath's claim
to fame is that Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightenment here.

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1 comment:

Santosh said...

Wow... man, are you enlightened now? I mean, cycling in the place where buddha gave his first sermon. Cycling alone is enough for enlightenment, but cycling in Sarnath. my god, I cannot imagine. :)