Sunday, March 24, 2013

Visit offbeat Attractions In Sarnath That Hard To Find In Internet Guides

Sarnath Buddha Temple
While in Varanasi, one is invariably tend to visit another pilgrimage, however, with a different sort of aura. I had a plan to visit Kumbh 2013, but later on cancelled it because Varanasi casted such charm that I just left the idea of meeting Sadhus at Kumbh. So, I take a day off from aimless wandering around the ghats and gallis, and prepared myself for a 13km journey across the fringes of Uttar Pradesh village Sarnath. Today, Sarnath is thronged with colorful tourists, cell phone friendly Buddhist Lamas and aimless travelers like me who somehow accidentally stumble upon this ancient town of Buddha consciousness.

I like the place, not more than Varanasi, but I was impressed by the cleanliness, wide roads and fewer disturbances by hawkers. Somehow the place reflected a queer serenity, may be because for last 3-4 days I was habituated with the humdrum of ‘babajis’ and ‘videshi babajis’ (I termed westerners who garbed like ascetics on the ghats of Varanasi), a sudden calmness and a different environment of Tibetans, Japanese, Sri Lankans, Chinese and other Buddhist people in Sarnath made me think otherwise.

A woman selling souvenirs
Sarnath is a place where Lord Buddha gave sermon to his first five disciples. It is the place from where a great religion was born and spread like a wildfire in next thousands of years. I never felt any slightest relation of Sarnath with Uttar Pradesh villages. I had already visited some Buddhist places like Mcleodganj and others, so I could instantly smell the emblematic Buddhist aura in this place. Here I list down some of the places apart from Sarnath Deer Park, Museum, temple, Stupas etc.which I missed in guidebooks and internet journals.

Japanese Temple

Japanese Temple in Sarnath
Among many Buddhist temple I liked this one. I don’t have any specific reason, but somehow I felt a great calmness after entering through the temple porch. The neat and clean place is adorned with variety of trees and plants. You can also stay in the temple premises, though I don’t know the exact rules and regulations. I only read a some points hanged on the board, which stated that “No smoking, no marijuana”, “No lie”, “maintain the prayer timing”, etc.

Turtle Conservation Area

Turtle Conservation in Sarnath
If you notice a small board outside the right fringes of Mulghandakuti Temple, you can visit this spectacular Turtle Conservation Area. I asked two westerners who were coming from the direction, but they were just meandering and not aware of such place. I walked around the place and discovered this obscure place. This is a part of Ganges Cleaning Project, which breeds thousands of turtles and lay them in Ganges to clean the water by eating flesh etc. The forest people were quite aware of conservation and in their rustic tone lamented about the increasing deforestation and disappearing of common birds and animals from the forests. 

Varanasi Silk Saree Factory

A typical farmland in Sarnath
If you really want to buy a good souvenir from Varanasi or Sarnath, visit the Silk Saree Factory for buying sarees in 40% less price than in market. I saw people working in hand-loom to weave sari and the shopkeeper asked me to buy one in a very less price. I wanted to click photographer of the workers, but they asked me shed Rs. 10 for every photographers. 

Buy Souvenirs from the Roadside Hawkers

Smoking pipe bought in Sarnath
The rules are same; you have to bargain for a good piece. If you are a smoker, you can buy some cheap pipes, which can be remodeled and used as pipes, small hookah, large hookah, chillum, and large chillum. Other attractive souvenirs are Buddha statues on stones (cheap priced), Asoka pillar emblem, paintings and many more.

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