Varanasi – III (Sarnath)
The next day, was an eventful one. The first half of the day was spent at Sarnath and the evening at the ghats watching the Ganga arati once more.
Sarnath, situated about 30 kms outside Varanasi is a holy place for Buddhists. It is at this place, that Gautam Buddha, gave his first sermons to his five disciples post attaining enlightenment. At the spot where he gave the sermon, during 2nd century BC, Ashoka commissioned an built the Dhamek Stupa. The Ashoka Pillar and the Lion Emblem were both situated nearby.
During the ’70 s , the ASI excavated the area and found the various artifacts and they have been kept safely and securely in the museum situated nearby, a must visit place on your Sarnath tour plan.
At Sarnath, you will find school children out on picnics and tours very frequently and the tickets are pretty cheap. Also, there are numerous shops with wares which might interest a lot of people. Do check them out but before buying, do bargain hard. Often, prices can be dropped to about half of the asking price.
Photography is not allowed within the museum unless you have a Govt. Of India approved permit, but then, it doesnt hurt much not taking photos of the sculptures, the experience of viewing them and reading the related stories are pretty fulfilling.
The excavated site and the stupa have a boundary, ticket price nominal. There are lawns and lots of place to sit and enjoy the tranquil environment. Meditating monks are not uncommon too.
Here the excavation can be seen with the Dhamek Stupa in the background. While in the second photo a wall carving has been shown.
Above: Carvings on the Vihar walls
Below: Carvings on the Dhamek Stupa
We retraced our path through the park and back to the main temple and before leaving, the prayer wheels, demanded attention and the respect!
Post our return, we freshened up and I went back to the Dasashwamedh ghat for another arati viewing session. This time, I was armed with the 200mm lens! The arati covered in the next post.