23 June - Varanasi
Woke up to the noisy train. These ladies well…Punjabis…it was like they were at home in that train. Just screaming and yelling all the way. Mid-morning a young man came and sat on the empty berth in front of us and of course Papa started chatting. For the next 6 hours it was constant talking. Good for Papa. I cannot talk that much. The train was full to the brim. Poor TT looked so exhausted. The young man was actually a politician. Very young, overconfident and a little gunda type. I don’t care for men like that. I was happy to get off at Mugalsari (near Varanasi). It was already evening by now.
Now Varanasi is Papa’s digs also – he studied in BHU for four years. So he knew which places we were going to visit. We went to Laroli first where the auto walla knew a good hotel. It was nice to be in UP. There is something else about speaking your own language and reading all signs in Hindi. We went on GT road, and crossed the bridge on Ganga. All the Ghats were visible from there. Such a lovely view. We got to the hotel “Gautam”. It was nice – had AC – was not staying anywhere else. Went out to eat dinner, but the location did not have good restaurants, so had this very home style dhaba roti and sabzi. Very homemade, very good.
Went back to the hotel and slept.
24 June - Varanasi
Morning time….looking forward to the day. Had breakfast at Jalyog – some place Papa knows. It was aloo-kachodi in dauna – yummy! Followed by rasgulla…good. Then went to Dashvamedh ghaat on Ganga. It is one of main ghaats on Ganga here. This part of Varanasi is old, so the streets to get to the ghaat were narrow and crowded. If one did not know where they were going, one could get lost. On the ghaat we took a boat ride in Ganga. Very beautiful ride, could see far inwards towards the ghaat. Ganga was quite restless, there were a lot of waves. The banks showed that Ganga could get 12 ft. higher during monsoon season. Wow!
Then we went to Kashi Vishwanath temple near the ghaats. Again, another place we would have gotten lost if a guide had not taken us there. It was a little scary for me. I don’t like crowds. The shops were amazing, but there was no time to stop and shop. We were on the way to the temple and the guide and Papa were so ahead of me. There was no way to stop them. Right next to the temple was a mosque and because of that there was a lot of security guards around. It was Monday and perfect day to visit Shiv temple. Nice darshan. No rush. (Although after a while all temples look alike).
Went to the train station to make reservations for Dehra Dun. After that we took the bus to Sarnath. Once in Sarnath, we took a guide to see around. First we went to the Buddha Stupa – really huge pillar where one portion of Buddha’s ashes are buried. (I think there are 8 of them in India). Walked around to a number of temples. One of them had a pipal tree, part of which was from the original tree where Buddha gave his first sermon. A number of countries had their Buddhist temples there – Japan, Tibet etc. The guide also took me to a museum, which turned out be a sari shop – haha! Did he think I was an idiot?
|Stupa at Sarnath|
Walked back to the stupa where Papa was waiting. We had great cold lassi here. It was so hot that lassi was welcomed! Went to an Archeological museum. It was very nice. Had a lot of Buddha statues and other statues of Gods.
It was about 4 pm when we left. Ate the jaamun we bought from Gadaulia earlier that day. Most wonderful jamuns. Went to the hotel and rested till evening and then went out again at 7 pm for dinner and bazaar. Went to Natraj for dinner – not good food. We had a thaali with roti and sabzi. Mheh. Found an internet café to check emails then came home and slept! Good but tiring day.
25 June - Varanasi
Decided to have breakfast near the hotel at Vasant Vihan – again puri aaloo…no chai or jalebi though L The aloo sabzi was not that great. Took a rickshaw to Gadaulia and then a tempo to BHU (a 10 min ride).
Took another rickshaw inside the campus. The ride around the campus was lovely. It’s a beautiful campus. Took a lot of video and photos. Rode around and saw the hostels and various departments. Finally stopped at the Geology department to see Papa’s old hangout place and meet his old friend. Waited for one hour for him to arrive and then too it was quite a weird meeting. He was like a stranger. No tea nothing was offered.
We left after sometime. Rode around the faculty quarters and out of the campus. Just outside the campus we had great chai and samosa. (Samosa only Rs 1 each!). Came back to the hotel for a break before going in the evening the Sankat Mochan temple (Hanuman temple). Stopped on the way to get some Prasad and namkeen for later. The temple is small but there was a sense of faith there. It was nicely crowded because it is Tuesday – Hunumanji’s day. Crowded but not in a bad sense. People were reading Hanuman Chalisa everywhere and it as playing on the speakers as well. Very nice atmosphere to just sit in and absorb the energy.
On the way back went to eat some tikki and chaat which was just too tasty! It started raining and by the time we were in Gadaulia it was full downpour. There was just too much water. Finally we got to the hotel. I went upstairs while Papa made small chit chat with the hotel manager.