Varanasi and Sarnath

December 2011

The train station in Lucknow on the way to Varanasi. Cows wander freely.

Like the cows, many monkeys also live in the station.

The sun rises over the holy Ganga River from the roof of the guest house.

We were guided by Dr. Narayan Swami, who told us that just to bathe just once in the holy Ganga and our sins would be washed away.

The holy river.

From the guest house with a temple and the river.

Sarnath (about 10 km from Varanasi), one time home of the Buddha, with the ruins of an ancient city and many pilgrims worshipping and meditating as seen here.

Swami-ji guided us around the ruins.

A huge stupa serves as a focal point for reverence.

Two pilgrims circumambulating the stupa one body length at a time.

A gigantic statue of the Buddha sands in front of a reflecting pool nearby.

Back in Varanasi, one of many holy men on the streets.

On the river bank.  I personally would not want to bathe in that water.

Private boats of local people.

On the ghats (steps leading down to the river) there are many small businesses. On the right you can see the small dishes with flowers and a candle in the center that can be set afloat on the river.

Another business by the river.

There are temples along the river by the dozen.

Another temple in that area near the river.

The water temple nearby with steps going down to water level.

Another view of the water temple.

The steps stretch for miles along the river banks.  When the water is higher, it laps up against the steps and make it convenient for people to walk into the river.

Vast banks of steps along the river.

One can see the buildings along the river front in the distance, as well as the ever-present cows living along the shore.

And everywhere, as elsewhere in most of the world,  the poor, living in hovels and patch work shelters, struggling to survive from day to day.

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