One of the best way to experience Varanasi is to take a early morning boat ride down the Ganges. So early in the morning before breakfast we will head to the shores of the Holy River Ganges for a boat ride to watch the sunrise. .After all the noise from the Aarti last night, this is a rather serene, but just as spiritual an experience.
There are several temples along he banks of the Ganges. The century old buildings look amazing in the glow of of the morning sunlight.
Later return back to the hotel to have your breakfast. Further leave for an excursion to Sarnath. This is where Gautam Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence.
After he achieved enlightenment at Bodhgaya and on his way to find Nirvana, Buddha came to Sarnath to preach his message and gave his famous first sermon here. In the 3rd century BC, Emperor Ashoka had magnificent stupas and monasteries erected here, as well as an engraved pillar. When Chinese traveller Xuan Zang dropped by in AD 640,
Sarnath boasted a 100m-high stupa and 1500 monks living in large monasteries. However, soon after, Buddhism went into decline and, when Muslim invaders sacked the city in the late 12th century, Sarnath disappeared altogether. It was ‘rediscovered’ by British archaeologists in 1835.
We will then return to Varanasi for our culinary experience of the day.
As the legend goes, to protect the people from the wrath of The God of rain (Lord Indra), Lord Krishna had lifted a mountain and placed it on the tip of his little finger, under which everyone had taken refuge. He stood still for seven whole days till Lord Indra realised and accepted his mistake. Lord Krishna would usually eat eight food items every day, but he didn’t consume any food during these seven days. So at the end of the seventh day, everyone made Lord Krishna a total of 56 dishes, out of gratitude. So as an offering to the Lord Krishna, worshipers make 56 food items, referred to as the Chappan Bhog. The word ‘Chappan’ means 56, and ‘Bhog’ means food. In short, we will be tasting 56 different types of food for lunch today.
The rest of the day is at leisure. Perhaps a walk along the ghats to digest lunch?
Culinary experience of the day: Chappan Bhog for lunch
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch