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Old 20th June 2014, 22:14   #1
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Default Benaras: The Eternal City

It's difficult to characterize Benaras. Mark Twain once said..."Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together."

We know it by its three names - Benaras (the land of the three Rasas) , Varanasi (the confluence of the Varuna and Assi), and Kashi - all three steeped in history and culture.

Why does this city mean so many things to so many people? From times immemorial to present, men, great and small, of every denomination have come to its folds, felt blessed.

It has harbored three great religions - Hinduisim, Buddhism and Islam.

It's a city, where no one goes hungry. It's a city devoid of corporate life and yet it never sleeps.

What is that elusive thing that makes this city tick?

Enroute from Delhi to Chinsurah (near Kolkata), we had a planned stopover here - for a little over 24 hours.
We decided to be a bit of a tourist, a bit of an explorer , a bit of a foodie , a bit of a shopper - but above all we wanted to experience this city - the Eternal city - Benaras. And maybe, through some stretch of imagination, or insight, we hoped to discover the essence of Benaras.

Is it possible? Was it too much to expect? Perhaps yes. Were we successful? Resoundingly no. But we came away with images in our mind about the city - representing what the city means to us.

Perhaps the image of the city that will forever remain etched in memory will be the crescent of the riverfront - shaped like the crescent moon on Lord Shiva's temple, as he dances the cosmic dance.

The Crescent of the Moon
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Last edited by GTO : 9th July 2014 at 14:47. Reason: Adding some spaces :)
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Old 20th June 2014, 22:50   #2
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Default The river front- the soul of Benaras

In search of a city's soul, one fact is indisputable. The river front is the soul. The Ganga itself swells by absorbing in its folds , first the Assi (West) and then the Varuna (East)

It's this section of the Ganga between the two confluences ,lies the riverfront that is steeped in history.And in a symbolic twist, the riverfront begins and ends by symbolizing Death - beginning with the Raja Harishchandra Ghat in the West and ending with the Manikarnika Ghat in the East. This arrangement epitomizes what the Bible said "From Dust to Dust"... or what the Bhagwad Gita said : "You came empty handed, you will leave empty handed. What is yours today, belonged to someone else yesterday, and will belong to someone else the day after tomorrow. So, whatever you do, do it as a dedication to God! "

To truly savour the ghats, one can walk from ghat to ghat and be regaled with tales of love, life and death itself, or just take a leisurely boat ride on one of the bajras and feel like a zamindar of yesteryear. It's one of the few places on this earth where people from all walks of life congregate, in life and death. Some to return to dust, others to wash away the sins of this life, and yet others to make ends meet for life to exist! This is the most populous area of the city on any given day.

The riverfront of Benaras
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Some more pictures of the riverfront showing its different vistas, hues and the people who throng it. It's best to see this from the river in the twilight between night and day.

The evening arati is a spectacle to remember. Even more memorable is the unhurried movement of people gathering around the ghats for the evening arati - the biggest of which is at Dashashwamedha Ghat. The hundreds of people gathering with a sense of anticipation , and the wish to pay obeisance to the Ganga Ma transcends faith, caste and creed (yes! this has universal appeal -even in this day and age!).

Devotees gather for the evening arati
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Devotees gather for the evening arati (2)
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Devotees gather for the evening arati (3)
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Devotees gather for the evening arati (4)
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Life on the ghats of Benaras is a study in itself. As early as 5 AM, people from various walks of life converge to the Ganga for Ganga Snan (the ritual bath) and Surya Namaskar. Yoga gurus and disciples alike practice their art on the steps of the ghat. Dhobis (washermen) get an early start to the day. And many (unfortunately) use the ghats for their ablutions.

Life on the Ghats (1)
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Life on the Ghats (2)
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Life on the Ghats (3)
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Life on the Ghats (4)
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Life on the Ghats (5)
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Life on the Ghats (6)
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Last edited by joybhowmik : 7th July 2014 at 16:27.
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Old 21st June 2014, 12:40   #3
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Default The boats of Benaras

The boatmen of Benaras are inextricably linked to the rituals that Benaras is famous for. Whether it's the immersion of ashes or a ritualistic bath, or it's the pleasurable ganga safar for the local or tourist alike, the boatman is always available for a fee.

There are a variety of boats at his disposal - the manually oared boats, the bigger bajra or even the larger motor boats. Wooden hulls, painted in different colours offer an interesting sight.

Here are a few images of these boats going about their business in the humdrum of the Ganga...

Fishermen setting out for the day
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Boatmen taking a group out midstream to immerse someone's ashes
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Boats waiting to be boarded
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Bajras devoid of passengers
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Atithi Devo Bhava
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Dry dock
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Rituals under way
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Old 21st June 2014, 17:21   #4
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Default The Ghats: Of legends and tales

As your boat meanders its way slowly past the riverfront, every few meters a different ghat is visible. Each has a story to tell. Each revered for its particular purpose.

The Dashashwamedh Ghat
The most important ghat on the entire riverfront, the Dashashwamedh Ghat is so named because of the ten horse sacrifice (Dash = ten, Ashwa = horse, medh = sacrifice) commissioned by Lord Brahma.

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Eons later, people venerate the steps, where mythology was first written down...
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Crowds scrambling for purgatory - so reminiscent of Dante's Inferno.

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Nearby, a family bathes in solitude
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The Munshi Ghat, and the Darbhanga Ghat, relatively recent additions to the shoreline. Not much history to these. But Darbhanga ghat stands out as the central showpiece of the ghats of Benaras. Perhaps it has something to do with the way that the sandstone has aged, or perhaps the columnar architecture of the palace.
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The Raja ghat commissioned in 1720 by the Maratha chief Gajirao Balaji, with its four temples dedicated to Amritesvara, Vinayakesvara, Nayanesvara and Gangesvara.
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The Mansarovar ghat taking its name after Lake Mansarovar in Tibet, built by Raja Man Singh of Jaipur in 1585. What lay here before the good Raja commissioned is lost in the mists of time.
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The Chausatti ghat dedicated to 64 Yoginis (minor Godesses) - a decrepit likeness of what must have been a grand facade.
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The Kedar ghat extensively and meticulously documented in the Kashi Khandand more recently eulogized by our beloved Manikda in the thriller Jai Baba Felunath.
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The Dhobi Ghat where much hotel linen of the city gets a wash. Interestingly, this is the only ghat that has no bathers.
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The Nepali "Kathwala" Temple's golden spire in the Hindu Nepali style commissioned by the King of Nepal
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The iconic Khrin Mandir (The temple of Debt). So named because an arrogant son sought to repay the debt of birth he owed his own mother by building a temple. The mother cursed it, saying that if he ever walked around the edifice , it would sink into the ground- and not even the Holy Trinity would be able to set it right. And so it happened, for everyone to see - that the life debt to one's mother is immeasurable.
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Which brings us to the saga of Death. And where else is Death more venerated than in Benaras.

The Raja Harishchandra Ghat named after King Harishchandra who is legendary for his exemplary strength of character. This ghat a.k.a. Adi Manikarnika (the original Manikarnika ) was the scene of the battle for supremacy of ideals.

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Source: Wikipedia
It is said that the great sage Vishwamitra, once approached Harishchandra and informed him of a promise made by the king during the sage's dream to donate his entire kingdom. Harishchandra was so virtuous, that he immediately made good his word and donated his entire kingdom to the sage and walked away with his wife and son.

Since, the entire world was under the sage after he donated his kingdom, the king had to go to Varanasi, a holy town dedicated to Lord Shiva. This was now the only place outside the influence of the sage. But the sage proclaimed that for an act of donation to be completed, an additional amount as Dakshina (honorarium) had to be paid. Harishchandra, with no money in his hands, had to sell his wife and son to a Brahmin Grihastha to pay for the Dakshina. When the money collected still did not suffice for the purpose, he sold himself to a guard at the cremation ground, who was in charge of collecting taxes for the bodies to be cremated.

The king, his wife and son had to sustain tremendous hardships doing their respective chores. The king helped the guard cremate the dead bodies, while his wife and son were used as household helpers at the house of the Brahmin. Once, the son had been to the garden to pluck flowers for his master's prayer, when he was bitten by a snake and he died instantly. His mother, having nobody to sympathise for her, carried his body to the cremation grounds. In acute penury, she could not even pay the taxes needed to cremate him. Harishchandra did not recognise his wife and son. He asked the lady to sell her golden mangalasutra and pay the tax. It is at this instance that his wife recognises the man as her husband. She has a boon that her husband only could see her mangalasutra. Harishchandra then came to her and recognised her as his wife and was stung by pangs of agony.

But, Harishchandra, was dutybound by his job to perform the cremation only after the acceptance of the tax. So, he asked his wife, if she was willing to undergo further hardships and stand by him in this hour of calamity. The faithful wife readily gave assent. She had in her possession only a saree, a part of which was used to cover the dead body of her son. She offers half of her lone dress as the tax, which Harishchandra could accept and perform the last rites of his son. When she proceeded to remove her dress, miracles happened.

Lord Vishnu, Indra and all Devas and the sage Vishwamitra himself manifested themselves on the scene, and praised Harishchandra for his perseverance and steadfastness. They brought his son back to life. They also offered the king and his wife, instant places in heaven. Harishchandra refused, stating that he was bound to his master, the guard. The Devas then reveal that the guard was none other than Yama. He again refused, saying that he cannot leave behind his subjects, by Kshatriya Dharma. He asked for a place in heaven for all his subjects. But the gods refused, explaining that the subjects had their own Karma and they have to undergo them. The king was then ready to forego all his virtues and religiousness for his people, so that they could ascend to heaven leaving him behind. The gods, now immensely pleased with the unassailable character of the great king, offered heavenly abode to the king, the queen and all their subjects. The sage Vishwamitra helped to populate the kingdom again and installed Harishchandra's son as the king.
The Manikarnika Ghat, where pyres burn 24x7 is a grisly sight.
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And the residence of the Manikarnika Ghat's owner - the Dom Raja's Haveli- sinister in appearance but a shocking tale of the price society has extracted. Easily recognizable by the rather plain pastel shades and the stone tigers on the roof.
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Source: India Today, April 15, 1986
The rickety boat, built perhaps half a century ago and springing several leaks in its patchwork bottom, bobs lazily at anchor close to shore while the afternoon sun bronzes the naked back of the wizened old wallah who stares vacantly into the Ganga while stuffing a wad of crude Banarasi zarda inside his lower lip.

From the boat Shamshaan Ghat, Varanasi's fabled cremation ground where Hindus of all castes burn their dead in the belief that the deceased will obtain instant mukti from rebirth, is but a few feet away. The ghat's giant stone steps, emerging hundreds of feet away from within a maze of temple spires and serpentine lanes, cascade down to a river bank: black with charcoal, dung, and decomposing sewage flecked with golden marigolds.

Nearby, a waterfall of a sewer empties the city's refuse into the river. The stench of putrid garbage mixes with waves of hot, acrid fumes from the burning flesh of corpses blackening atop blazing wooden funeral pyres laid out in rows a few feet apart. Occasionally, from within the city, tied in to endless knots by the delicate weaves of narrow lanes, aromas or incense, of cooking, flow into the ghat of death.

Ram naam satya hai. Ram naam satya hai. The pall bearers chant their testament to universal truth as they carry a shrouded corpse of an old man tied to a crude bamboo stretcher down the steps of the ghat to the blackened river in which they will immerse it for a few moments.

They have carried their dead for miles from within the city, or, if they live in surrounding villages, in a special bus called the Swarglok Express which plies the area, picking up the dead and their relatives, stopping finally at a depot a few minutes away from the ghat. After immersion in the Ganga, the relatives leave the body on its stretcher on the bank of the river.

They have now entered the empire of the Dom Raja, Yamdoot on earth, the wealthy traditional owner of the ghat, king of the lowest sub-caste among the Harijans, keeper of the torch that lights the funeral pyres, supplier of the holy flame from an incandescent pit of fire which, according to legend, has burned, unextinguished, for thousands of years.

They must now leave the body on the bank and negotiate with the Dom Raja or his minions the price they must pay - in cash or in kind - for the funeral wood and, more importantly, for the sacred fire which can come only from the Dom's pit, that will ignite the pyre. In the Dom's domain, where the bodies of knaves, kings, Brahmins, and beggars crumble into dust, everything is sacred and nothing is sacred. Everything is excess and nothing is wasted.

The lines that divide the living from the dead, the old from the young, human from beast, fantasy from reality wither away. The cycle of life, played out day after day, around the pyres of death in Shamshaan Ghat, is brutal in its simplicity.

The bodies of two women, freshly immersed, draped in red and bedecked with garlands of marigolds lie on stretchers on the bank of the ghat. The relatives are negotiating a price with the Dom Raja - 26-year-old Ranjit Choudhury - who sits in a room above the ghat with his two little children, dressed like ragged little urchins. His recently widowed mother handles a bag of cash stuffed with hundred-rupee notes. The children stare at the burning bodies below through a large opening in the room.

It is late afternoon. They have already been there since sunrise and will stay there until the evening. A huge, shaggy ram, a beast resembling a yak, winds its way slowly and with menacing authority down the steps. People make way for him. He approaches the bodies of the two women, frightening off with a threatening gesture of his horned head, a relative who tries to deflect him.

He straddles both bodies. Then starting with the feet of each corpse he begins to chew, in large mouthfuls, the marigold flowers from the garlands. When he has cleaned both bodies of all garlands he walks regally up the steps and disappears somewhere into the spires and temple bells of Varanasi.

Other families, who have paid their dues to the Dom, are now plastering the bodies of their deceased with glistening ghee. A servant of the Dom lights the pyre. On each burning pyre, relatives place dozens of propitious coconuts. As the heat from the blaze intensifies, the relatives and the pujaris move back. But little children, emerging as if from nowhere, and trained to withstand the heat, move in with little sticks and deftly remove the coconuts from the burning pyres. Gleefully, they break them open and begin eating them.

The pyres burn. And now they have another use. Ordinary residents of the city who have been bathing nearby or washing their shirts and dhotis approach the flames. Nonchalantly they stand around the pyres and dry their clothes with the heat from the flames which are still ferociously consuming the corpses. In an hour or so, the Dom's servants poke the remains of the bodies with huge poles. They dig into the burning wood for unburned portions of the body, lance them with their poles and hurl them into the shallow river banks where they cool with a steaming hiss.

Dozens of dogs, reared since they were pups on a diet of human flesh attack the discarded remains, some of which float out into the river to provide food for circling kites which skim the water. The unburned wood is thrown into the river and then collected by the Dom's servants in boats which ferry the funereal lumber to the Dom's house for his cooking needs.

And as the embers from the pyre begin to lose their glow, little children with earthenware pots collect the coal for cooking, and ganja smokers gather to stuff burning embers into their chillums. The next day, the Dom's servants will sift the ashes for any gold or silver jewellery which the corpses had worn.

It is late at night. The sound of a violent quarrel can be heard inside the Dom's room above the ghat. Villagers from a distant village are screaming at his servant that they have been charged too much. The servant protests that the Dom does not exploit the poor. "According to our dharma," he says, "everybody must pay something. But we let people pay according to their own desires."

Down below, at the cremation ground, two peasants from Sherwan village near Bhadoi have been waiting two hours for a flame for the pyre of a dead relative. They have already paid for 40 kg of wood for the funeral. "And now," says Bir Pratap, one of the relatives, "they are asking us to pay Rs.150 along with a quintal of wheat. We can't afford this."

A half hour later, the negotiation ends with the family agreeing to pay Rs.125 plus the demanded weight in wheat. A close friend of the Dom says that at least 200 corpses are burned at the ghat each day. "People surrender titles to their land. One man even gifted a jeep. The Dom can demand what he wants because his torch carries the power of mukti." It is widely known in Varanasi that a hundred years ago or so, a wealthy trader, Kasmiri Mal, on the demand of the Dom covered the funeral pyre with diamonds and other gems as the price of a single cremation.

Shamshaan Ghat is also known as Manakarinika Ghat. Legend has it that the Doms were once a family of high caste Brahmins but fell from grace. After Parvati died and different parts of her body were flung to different places in India, her earring fell at the present ghat. A member of this Brahmin family picked it up and kept it. When Shiva discovered this he cursed the family and decreed that they become the lowest of the untouchables - the Doms.

The man who had found the earring pleaded for mercy on the ground that he was a bhakt and that he had sought to return the piece to Shiva. Unable to recant the curse, Shiva was nonetheless able to modify it by gifting them the ghat and giving them a sacred fire, cremation by which would provide mukti to all who were burned there. The Dom Rajas, including Ranjit, are said to be the direct descendants of this family.

The fire from which the funeral pyres are lit is kept burning day and night. But the Dom Raja and his family - reputed to be possessed of fabulous wealth - are Varanasi's most untouchable of untouchables. A recent income tax raid on his house unearthed about Rs.10 lakh in assets. And he has been assessed for Rs.17 lakh. Yet the Dom cannot enter anybody's house. He cannot enter a temple. He can worship at the Vishwanath temple only from outside. And Ranjit's father, Kailash, used to walk through the gullies of Varanasi with a gold-tipped trishul, politely asking people to move away from him.

Dom Raja Ranjit lives in a palatial haveli-like mansion on the banks of the Ganga on Manmandir Ghat. The three-storey dwelling has its own Rama-Sita temple with two large stone tigers atop a parapet snarling at the Ganga. He dresses in a lungi and vest and has a smattering of an education. It is night. Ranjit is reeking of cheap country liquor. His knee and chin are bandaged from an encounter with a bull in a gully the previous day.

"Do you know what I want?" he says. "I want mukti from here, from this job. I'm tired of this life. I have to take, take, take from people all the time. This is my dharma. I live on this najaiz business. I earn from the wages of sadness and death." He is emotional and defiant. "I will die. You will die. But people won't drink water from my hands. I have the same blood as you. I feel the same pain. You've seen those funeral pyres. Do you see any differences between the corpses? But I'm achhoot. People shoo me off. They call me a neech and a Dom."

He would liked to have studied, he says, to speak English "and to mix in society. I may have a lot of money but what use is it? I hate this work, but my family has to eat. I have to maintain 45 servants and a huge family. I have 18 suits. But I never get to wear them. I work day and night, I sleep three hours. I hardly get time to play with my children."

But, he says he cannot get away from this "murdon ki kamai (earning from the dead). It is my fate. It is my prison. What else can I do? If I open up a shop or a business who will come there? Who will buy from me?" He drinks, he says, because he must forget his life.

He gets used to the death. But sometimes, he says, "I cannot banish the smell of death, of rotting corpses I have to pick up off the streets, from my mind. I don't fear death but I keep thinking of these bodies, bodies all the time even when I sleep. And sometimes when I eat I think of the corpses, of the smell. I cannot even swallow."

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Old 21st June 2014, 18:01   #5
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Default The Obeisance to Ganga - the Ganga Arati

The climax of the day's rituals on the river is unquestionably the evening Arati.

The Arati (prayer) to the river Goddess Ganga, is worshipped at all the major Ghats, but the biggest spectacle of all is the one at Dashashwamedha Ghat.

Devotees throng the Dashashwamedh ghat at least an hour in advance to secure good vantage points both on the river and the shore. After what seems like an interminable pause, the Arati finally begins.

The aarti is performed on a stage by a group of young pandits, all draped in saffron colored robes with their puja plates spread out before them. It commences with the blowing of a conch shell (Shankh Naad), and continues with the waving of incense sticks in elaborate patterns and circling of large flaming lamps. The movement of the lamps, held in the pandits' hands, is tightly synchronized to the rhythmic chants of hymns and the clang of cymbals. The heady scent of sandalwood thickly permeates the air. People, pandits, babas, idols of various gods, loud speakers, clanging bells, singing, incense, flowers, and flames - a spiritual circus as it were.

It happens every day, come rain, hail or shine! And it always starts at dusk and continues for an hour.

One advise: Don't wait till the last moment of the show to leave the precincts- for if you do, you will be caught in crowds of people leaving by their thousands through the narrow lanes of Benaras's ghats.

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Old 21st June 2014, 21:08   #6
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Default Sarnath - where the Buddha first taught the Dharma

Sarnath is hallowed ground. It marked the beginnings of Buddhism.
Our visit to Sarnath had been a rushed one, sandwiched as it were between the boat trips in the morning and evening. To add to that, it was an extremely hot June 8 with temperatures soaring to 47 C in the open and not much better in the shade.

Our first stop was the Mulagandhakuti Vihara, built by the Maha Bodhi Society of India (chief patron the then king of Sri Lanka).
The temple precincts house the bodhi tree under which the Gautama Buddha preached his first sermons, the sanctum santorum, and the Sarnath Stupa.

The Mulagandhakuti Vihara itself.

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and some history...

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some do's and don'ts ...

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The Gautam Buddha idols near the bodhi tree where the first sermon was delivered

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The story behind the bodhi tree is interesting. An offspring of the original tree, under which the Buddha preached his sermon, was taken away to Sri Lanka. And several generations later, it's offspring was brought back here.

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Kodak moment under the huge bell in the main corridoor

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Self at pulpit

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The pulpit has a golden idol of the Gautam Buddha - exquisitely crafted.
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Frescoes on the wall , showing the life and times of the Buddha.

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The Sarnath Stupa
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A Buddhist temple built by the Japanese
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The sanctum santorum inside the temple
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A huge drum
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Wooden sculptures of the Buddha in the Japanese style
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Exquisitely crafted sculptures and architecture around the Japanese temple.
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A short distance away is the Archaeological Museum, Sarnath.
Unfortunately no photos exist as photography is not permitted inside the museum.

And then we came across an exquisite Thai Buddhist temple, with its signature 80 feet tall Buddha sculpture.
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Last edited by joybhowmik : 7th July 2014 at 12:45.
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Old 7th July 2014, 12:32   #7
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Default Where to stay and eat...

Having stayed at one of the hotels adjacent the railway station in December/January last year, and we decided - never again.

The surroundings are noisy, unclean, congested and lacking in creature comforts that one requires after a long journey on a hot summer day.

That is why based on TripAdvisor ratings, we had booked ourselves at Hotel Rivatas which is located in the quieter and much nicer Mall within the Cantonment. And we were not displeased.
The rooms were large, the bathroom was really big and airy. Central air-conditioning lived up to its reputation for once. Stairwells and lifts were spotless.
The pool was passably clean.
Food service at breakfast was excellent. We tried the Grill by the Ocean for dinner, it's delightfully reminiscent of Barbeque Nation in Delhi.

Lunch was dedicated wholly to street food. And choices abound. From Kachoris, to Jalebis to Rabri and really cool Lassis - we tried them all and then some. A lip-smacking experience , and very light on the pocket.

Last edited by joybhowmik : 7th July 2014 at 12:46.
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Old 9th July 2014, 14:46   #8
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Default re: Benaras: The Eternal City

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th July 2014, 15:33   #9
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Thumbs up Re: Benaras: The Eternal City

Thanks for making me relive my trip during Sep-2010 to Benaras... When I had been there, the river was seriously in full spate. See a comparision pic.

Benaras: The Eternal City-dsc_0193copy.jpg

And If I may add a 'crescent' shot from my camera...

Benaras: The Eternal City-c.jpg

Last edited by svsantosh : 9th July 2014 at 15:34.
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Old 9th July 2014, 18:08   #10
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Default Re: Benaras: The Eternal City

Originally Posted by svsantosh View Post
When I had been there, the river was seriously in full spate.
Thanks svsantosh. Yes, the boatman did tell us that during /after the monsoons when the river is in spate, it's difficult to keep dry feet on the ghats - in fact on occassion the ghats and temples have been flooded.

Thanks for the crescent pic as well!

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Old 10th July 2014, 13:41   #11
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Default Re: Benaras: The Eternal City

Very interesting thread on Benaras! Learned a lot of new things from the information you have posted. Some very nice photos too, you've captured the emotions on the banks of the river very well. Sadly they are polluting the Ganga to a very large extent; lets hope Mr Na-Mo cleans up at-least 25% of the river as he has said. How much does the boatmen charge for 1 trip of how much duration and how much distance?!!
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Old 10th July 2014, 14:29   #12
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Default Re: Benaras: The Eternal City

Wow thats a fascinating account. Benares is a place I've never been really keen to visit, thinking it would be overcrowded and noisy, but reading your travelogue I think perhaps it's worth a trip.
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Old 10th July 2014, 18:46   #13
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Default Re: Benaras: The Eternal City

Originally Posted by W.A.G.7 View Post
Sadly they are polluting the Ganga to a very large extent; lets hope Mr Na-Mo cleans up at-least 25% of the river as he has said. How much does the boatmen charge for 1 trip of how much duration and how much distance?!!
Thanks - glad you liked it!
+1 To That.
In fact as the hired auto driver said (and by the way he is from the minority community): "We have immense faith in Na-Mo. Come 1 year later. You won't recognize the city anymore. It will be better than Delhi."
Well I certainly hope he has his faith in the right place. And all power to development of Benaras.

I had (before leaving Delhi) , contacted the tour agent at Hotel Rivatas. He had quoted me a price of Rs 1000/- for each boat trip.
The morning boat trip started at around 5:30 AM, from Dashashwamedh ghat to Harishchandra ghat (one extreme) and back. The evening boat trip started at around 5:30 PM and went up to Manikarnika ghat (other extreme) and back. Then there was an hour of standing still while we waited for the ganga arati to complete.

Originally Posted by ajitkommini View Post
Wow thats a fascinating account. Benares is a place I've never been really keen to visit, thinking it would be overcrowded and noisy, but reading your travelogue I think perhaps it's worth a trip.
If nothing else- just going by gastronomic experiences alone: it's definitely worth it!
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Old 10th July 2014, 22:01   #14
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Default Re: Benaras: The Eternal City

Joy, beautifully narrated and nice snaps. We had to skip Banaras visit during our trip to Allahabad Maha Kumbh. Your TL is a virtual tour of Ghats..
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Old 11th July 2014, 13:50   #15
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Default Re: Benaras: The Eternal City

Beautiful Travelogue! Such a vibrant place !
Your pictures of the Aarati are superb!

Thanks for sharing
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