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.

Sarnath Temple
Sarnath Temple

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.

Buddha painting within the temple
Buddha painting within the temple

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 Idol within
The Idol within

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.

  Excavation and Dhamek Stupa    Wall carving

Vihar wall
Vihar wall

Above: Carvings on the Vihar walls

Below: Carvings on the Dhamek Stupa

Carvings on the stupa
Carvings on the 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.



Varanasi – II

The evening of the first day at Varanasi, we went for a boat trip from the Assi Ghat towards the Dasashwamedh Ghat with the intention to see the evening arati from the river.

The speciality of this ghat, and the one beside it, the Rajendra Prasad ghat is that they host multiple aratis simultaneously, 5 and 7 to be exact. And, for most of the time, the purohits conducting the arati do it in sync and hence it is a pretty awesome sight. The arati starts at 1815, but in the winter months, the place gets crowded by devotees and onlookers from 1700. So, if you want to grab a good spot, be there by 1715 . You ll find boatmen coaxing to take a ride to the opposite bank and back, charging around 40INR for the trip, pretty reasonable, but a bit of bargaining always helps. Also, found in plenty are photographers with portable printers who ll take the photos in poses of your and their choices and print and deliver immediately, at about 20INR per copy.

I realized that, from a moving boat, taking photos of people who are also moving is a pretty difficult job, hence, not many usable shots from that evening of the arati. But its an awesome spectacle. Once I understood that trying to take photos would be fruitless, I switched the camera off, and saw the aratis. It truly is a breathtaking sight and a memorable event. Night shots of boats on the Ganga, they came out good though!!





Next day the destination was Sarnath and the evening I spent in finding a good spot to capture the arati from! Stay tuned! More coming up!!


Varanasi – I

Hi all…
I was out on a tour of the holy city of Varanasi. This city gets its name from the rivers Baruna and Assi, they meet with the holy river goddess Ganga in this city. Here there exist a number of Ghats, cemented banks that is. Home to a multitude of people from a wide spectrum of economy and religion, this city has a very rich cultural history and heritage. Apart from the religious aspect, here exists one of the biggest university in Asia, the Banaras Hindu University boasting 124 faculties including engineering, medical, arts, commerce and sciences and many more.

I spent 4 days here. My trip was very specific in nature. Specific in the sense, I went in with the intention of capturing Ganga Arati that takes place every evening. I also made a short trip to the Buddhist town of Sarnath and a couple of forts! I ll try to add in small bits of info also as and when suitable!

I woke up and started to walk towards the Assi Ghat at 0530! This is how the BHU campus looks at that hour!


I reached Assi Ghat by 0630 and went straight to work with the camera.




A very soothing voice came from the ghats. There was this man, named Bhomi, boat operator by profession and an amateur singer. I listened to him singing for sometime and then walked west towards the rest ghats.



Birds are plentiful there…






After walking for another hour, hunger got better of my will to continue and I turned back. Was lost in the alleyways and ended up having to negotiate right of passage with a big buffalo…luckily for me, he was an understanding one, and let me pass without much issues…no pics of him though…

Varanasi is a place frequented by Indians and foreigners alike , hence fooding and lodging accommodating multiple cuisines and cultures us present here. Streets are crowded and at times, they are not very clean!

This was the morning…the first evening coming up next! Stay hooked!