This morning was another early start with the intention of seeing the sunrise over the ganges. We hired a boat and cruised down river towards the burning ghats (where people have funeral/cremation ceremonies on the bank of the river)… unfortantly some river gunk got stuck in the propeller of our boat so we drifted onshore (right by the ghats) and waited 10-15 mins while the boat driver dived down to fix the propeller.
The burning ghats in Varanassi are similar to the ghats in Nepal but on a much bigger scale. Had the boat not broken we would not have gone in so close – but while we were stranded we got a close view of what was going on. Again, this is where tourism pisses me off… some tourists have no sense of cultural awareness or sensitivity, seriously people… if you go to Varanasi do NOT get off the boat to wander around the burning ghats and get photos of people burning their loved ones. It is not at all appropriate.
After our sunrise boat ride we had some breakfast and then hired a car and driver to take us to Sarnath 10km northeast of Varanassi. Saranath is a lovely place and is truly a spot of calm amongst the chaos of India, much needed after a few days in Varanasi. Saranath is where Buddha came after he gained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya and gave his first sermon. We visited a lovely Buddhist temple (a great place to go to ponder) and an archaeological museum with many Buddhist statues and historical objects from the area. While in Saranath I met many people from all over the world who were on their pilgrimage… I chatted to monks from Sri Lanka and Tibet/Nepal and pilgrims from Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka… everyone was so calm and friendly, I really enjoyed my time there.
Here are some photos of Saranath: