Sunday, June 1, 2014


It has been an action-packed week in Varanasi, but before I describe it, I have to touch on our experiences in Agra. Our admission to the Taj Mahal was free because of the ceremonial remembrance of Shahjahan's death. Shahjahan imagined and directed the construction of the Taj as a burial site for his wife Mumtaz. This also could have been his way of demonstrating his vast wealth and power. He even had plans to build a mirror image of the Taj in black stone, but he was imprisoned by his own son before he could do that! The Agra fort was also magnificent, but for its architectural defense mechanisms. There were spaces for archers to send cascades of arrows and for men to pour hot oil on intruders. How could I forget the ramps for massive spheres to roll down and crush whatever was in their path!

Varanasi has been a truly fascinating experience. We went to Sarnath, one of the important sites of Buddhism, and we learned more about the Buddha's Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path, and stupas. Another more artistic portion of the journey led us to a silk store. Not only was it a store, but they were also making silk pieces there and we were able to see how. I was shocked to hear of the patience of the artists: They usually only make a few centimeters of progress a day. Other locations we visited were Benares Hindu University and one of the major cremation sites of Varanasi. BHU reminded me of ECU in many ways. All students were walking to class, hanging out, and intrigued by the foreigners, just as we would be. Visiting the cremation grounds was a very intense trip for all of us. Death is not as private of an occurrence here as it is at home and because of this we were able to witness the process that seems to happen nonstop here in Varanasi (one of the, if not the holiest city to pass away in).

Now we are all eating breakfast in preparation for our 14 hr train ride north, to the mountains and cooler weather!

No comments:

Post a Comment