Day 2 - Nov 7th contd
The main Maha Bodhi temple is located well below the ground level and one needs to climb down to get to the main entrance
The Peepal tree immortalised by the penance of Gautam Buddha is just on the backside of the temple. There were huge amount of devotees sitting there and offering prayers. There was a certain calmness all around despite the crowd. had ample sitting places around the tree and had it not been for the journey at hand would have definitely liked to sit over some time and try my own self realisations.
Next took the Xylo to the banks of the Phalgu River (River Niranjana) which is famous and sacred for lacs of Hindus who come here to do the pindadan
(last rites) of the forefathers and fathers.
This river also gets a mention in the Ramayana and is said to be a cursed one (probably by Lord Rama) and is hence devoid of any water. My father had told me this river is only of sand and one needs to dig deep to find any trace of water. Quite naturally, I was surprised to see so much water.
But true enough the major part of it on either side of the water was sand and grass. Here the Mahabodhi temple can be seen standing tall in the background.
From there on we checked out the 80 ft high statue of the Buddha which was just behind our Hotel Complex. I had seen a photo of this statue at night fully illuminated. But during the day too it was glowing with glory.
We managed to slip out of Bodh Gaya only by 11am. The road to Dobhi was the single carriageway and filled up the Xylo in between. By 11.40 the Xylo was on NH 2 and ready to fly again.
In 1 hour flat from Dobhi the Xylo was on the Sone Bridge. This was said to be the longest road Bridge in India till the Bridge over Ganga in Patna got constructed. The railway bridge which can be seen here was also the longest of its kind till it got overtaken by a bridge in Kerala.
10 km from Dehri we came across a resort / restaurant called Bageecha which was earlier recommended to me by Samarjit. It was a decent family joint in the midst of nowhere.
The food was ok, service prompt and we were on line with a 45 min stop but it got extended by a further 15 mins because someone else was not in a hurry
From there on to Varanasi the townships were just arriving and disappearing in a flash. Impressed with the way the highway was bypassing important and big townships like Sasaram and Mohania. At places you could smell the congestion of the city but cant feel it on the highway as it is passing over an elavated corridor. I particularly wanted to take a look into the grave of Sher Shah Suri in Sasaram, not because of his greatness as a king, one of the ver few who challenged the Mughal Dynasty and defeated it, but as the father og the very GT road which we travel through albiet in a modern version (I call this the Vajpayee version). But the bypass was so far away from the tomb that I could not check it out.
Reached the Ganga bridge on Vishwa Sundari bypass in Varanasi by 3.40pm but took another 1 hour to negotaiate the Varanasi traffic to reach Assi Ghat where we had our Hotel Booked.
Rooms were average but clean and had a great view of the Ganga even as you lie on your bed.
But that what we did not do. We were itching to have a first feel of Varanasi and more importantly Dasaswamedh Ghat. The Xylo was to rest and we checked on the cycle rickshaws to take us through the lanes and bye lanes. But finally opted for an auto rickshaw and reached the mess of Varanasi in front of the Lord Vishwanath Temple.
Son got disinterested and opted for a quick nap.
But finally woke up to the temple bells on Dashaswamedh Ghat
The next day we were to offer our prayers to Lord Vishwanath and check on the famous ghats by the Ganga and have sone of the most talked about Lassi, Kachori and Rabris...