Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sarnath - where Budha first taught enlightenment

There was a whole day to fill in before we took the overnight train to Delhi so a group of us took tuk-tuks out to Sarnath on the northeast side of the city.

The traffic in downtown Varanasi was possibly some of the worst we had experienced in India. Eventually we left the worst behind and I was able to take some photos.

Sarnath is where Buddha first preached enlightenment. There are numerous temples in Sarnath and the tuk-tuk leader took us to several of the most important. The first was a Chinese temple.

I get bored with temples fairly quickly so I went outside to gaze at what might have been a school across the way.

It was a short distance to the Mulagandha Kuti Viha temple which you approach via a long path.

You have to take off your shoes to enter.

It was starting to get warm so the cool shadow felt good.

We would visit the big blob soon, but via another entrance.

Prayer wheels.

This Bodhi tree is a second generation from the original Maha Bodhi tree under which Buddha received enlightenment. 

It's all a bit too gaudy for me. I prefer the reflective and restrained.

No we are not visiting the blob. First we stopped at a Jain Temple.

The Jain Temple. To be honest I had had enough of temples by now so I just sat and looked around.

But now it was finally time to see the blob which is actually the Dhamekh Stupa.

We entered into a very large park. The first part contains numerous excavations. I decided to leave the group and stroll around by myself.

A Google Earth image of the park. We entered at the bottom left and I circled clockwise.

Big blob is at the lower right.

It was lovely just strolling quietly by myself just soaking it all in. I did not feel the need to know what I was looking at. Sometimes less knowledge is more.

I could see some of our group had reached the Ashokan Pillar. I never got to see it. Next time.

It was a pleasure  to just stroll around by myself. It has been wonderful to be part of a great group but normally I travel by myself and that day I just needed some 'Ray by himself' time.

It was also a popular area for couples to meet and sit in the shade of small trees or bushes.

The area is famous for deer. Apparently when Buddha came to the area it had lots of deer and the tradition remains. They all seem to have spots.

Yound Indian men excited to see deer. With numerous deer in our neighborhood, I don't get too excited but at least the spots were different.

I sat on a seat under a tree for some time gazing at the blob and reflecting on the trip.

The tree under which Ray did not receive enlightenment.

Eventually I wandered over to the blob and walked around it. It's about 48 meters high and has a 28 meter diameter.

Intricate carvings.

Religious texts on colored sheets of paper.

It was getting close to noon and several people were enjoying benches and shade.

Interesting shades in the hedge.

So we all left the park and returned to our tuk-tuks.

Finally we went to see a Giant Buddha.

It's only a few years old.

It was quite hot now so I just took some photos from a distance.

I found the texture of the wall interesting.

What a dilapidated bicycle.

It was time to return to the hotel and I got a brief glimpse of the Chaukhandi Stupa.

The traffic was atrocious, made worse by lots of school buses.

A poor traffic policeman trying to make the traffic flow. Eventually we through the worst of it and we could see our poor driver relax just a little.

These looked like Cape Gooseberries.

I enjoyed the trip out to Sarnath more than I expected. Towards the end of my trips I start to shut down from touring mode yet I found strolling around the deer park to be just what my soul needed. 

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