One of the strengths of this trip so far has been the extensive information given about the various religions in India – an understanding of which is essential to grasping the complexities of society here. There is so much information that it isn’t practical to put it in the blog – so a summary is all that is possible – if anyone wants to talk more about religion in India when I return – shoot me an email. The focus today was Budhism. A visit to The Mulaganda Kuty Vihara temple complex in the cold foggy early hours began our day.
The temple seemed very sparse after the opulence of the Sikh temple in Delhi. Gorgeous wall paintings adorned the inside of the temple chronicling the life of Buddha.
Sarnath was our next stop. Buddha gave his first speech after his enlightenment and Sarnath was one of the four places that Buddhas devotes were told to visit by Buddha – it is associated with – you guessed enlightensment. Monks at worship completed the perfect picture of our visit which continued as the fog lifted and warming sunshine broke through to light up the buildings in the complex.
Remains of monk housing – Stupas were plentiful in the surrounding areas.
Following lunch, a small group of us took Tuk Tuks to the Baranasi Silk Mfg Co-op which covers city blocks and has been a Muslim family business for generations. Varanasi was on the ancient silk route which ended in China. Fabrics woven by the co-op weavers are exported all over the world and the company makes the majority of sari material used in India. We were shown how patterns are made, as well as both mechanized and hand weaving techniques, educated on silk quality and then shown into the storeroom to look at everything from table clothes to bedspreads to scarves. The scarves were stunning and one spoke to me in a way I couldn’t ignore 🙂 The difference in price from Canada to India pays about 1/2 of my airfare – to make a very short story a lot shorter, the scarf is now hanging in my room awaiting the trip home :-)))
We have a dawn visit to the Ganges River planned in the morning before leaving Varanasi.