Posts

Showing posts from May, 2008

A Pilgrimage Special: Goodbye, Varanasi.

Image
Goodbye, Varanasi. We were supposed to leave Varanasi in the evening, just before it turned dark but the train was delayed for more than an hour and a big crowd gathered till it turned dark and chilly. Earlier in the morning, we had visited the Ganga and had lunch at our hotel and now, we were headed by coach to the railway station with a packed lunch. Our guide had paid some porters to carry our luggages and there was much haggling over the price to be paid like usual. While waiting, Yoong Meng and I wandered around the railway station, drinking in the dark and drab scene and even buying toys from a peddler. As we waited in the cold, we chatted with some locals, a young university student and a couple with a cute, chubby girl and when we left, we did not just wave goodbye to the people but to Varanasi. Technically, leaving Varanasi meant our pilgrimage had ended. We were headed for Agra and then to New Delhi, before heading for home...

44

Varanasi Railway Station...


...porters...


Yoong M…

A Pilgrimage Special: Legendary Varanasi

Image
Mark Twain the American writer who gave us Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn wrote Benares or Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together. Indeed, Varanasi is old! In fact, it is old enough to go through pillage and destruction several times, beginning from 1033 CE when Mahmud of Ghazni destroyed the Hindu temples and used the temple materials to build mosques. Mohammed Ghori followed suit in 1193 CE, Mughal Emperor Akbar during the start of the seventeenth century and another Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb even went to the extent of naming the city Mohammad├ób├ód. In modern times, on March 7, 2006, four bombs went off in an act of terrorism at a shrine dedicated to Lord Hanuman, while another went off at a platform of the Varanasi Cantonment Railway Station, the main railway station in the city. Nevertheless, Varanasi survived and temples are continuously built.Today, there are old palaces and temples there, a…

A Pilgrimage Special: Good Morning, Varanasi

Image
Varanasi has been listed as one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world and is also regarded as a holy city by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Our guide told us that the city had in ancient time been destroyed by the Muslims but somehow, it stood up against the marauders and regained its vigour. Neither intruders nor flood could destroy Varanasi, I suppose. Flood, I heard, happens during the rainy season and could easily submerge some of the buildings on the bank. Personally, I find the city more Hindu than anything else. Closely associated with the Ganges, there are not just many Hindu temples along its banks, but there are so many devout Hindus taking a holy dip in the river from morn to dusk. During my first trip here, I remember the railway station was packed with Hindu pilgrims and when I visited the Ganges in the afternoon, there were many Hindus taking a dip there. This time around, we visited the Ganges in the wee, wee morning. We were supposed to catch the sun…

A Pilgrimage Special: Holy City of India

Image
After Sarnath, we were off the Varanasi. Varanasi is often referred to as the holy city of India or the religious capital of India This is understandable since this is one of the holy places where devout Hindus converge to take a holy bath at the Ganges and where some come to spend the last days of their lives. Hindus believe they will end up in heaven if they die here. At the Ganges river then , you do not just get to view Hindus taking a holy dip but you'll also get to see the cremation of dead people. Photography of the cremation is not allowed but one is free to take a shot at every other thing that catches the fancy, from the little flower lamp which you can buy and release into the Ganges as an act of devotion to the souvenirs peddlers on the boats etc...etc.... Since Varanasi is the place where Hindu converges, officially our pilgrimage should have ended in Sarnath...
41

Flower lamp for the holy Ganges...
Peddlars of souvenirs on boats...



Taking a holy dip in the Ganges...


A Pilgrimage Special: Visiting Mulagandha Kuty Vihara

Image
Visiting Mulagandha Kuty Vihara was just like another visit to a normal Buddhist temple. Perhaps, the only thing special about visiting this Vihara is that this Vihara was founded by the notable Anagarika Dharampala, the Sri Lankan who was responsible for the revival of Buddhism in India. Inaugurated in 1931, there are also sacred relics of Lord Buddha here as well as paintings on the temple walls of Buddha's life by Japanese artist,Kosetsu Notsu...

40

Visiting Mulagandha Kuty Vihara...





Paintings by Japanese Artist, Kosetsu Nosu...



At the temple grounds...