Encounter with Buddhism, back to Delhi and goodbye India!


In the last day spent in Varanasi we visited Sarnath (also known under the name of The Deer Park), 13 kilometers from the city, the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon after his enlightenment. There are  lot of different temples in Sarnath, including an 128 feet high stupa, that marks the spot where Buddha gave his first sermon to five disciples.  A stupa is a Buddhist shrine shaped like a dome, containing relics of the Buddhist monks, often buried in a seating position.  It is also a place of meditation.

The legend says that Buddha has spent the following rainy season in Sarnath, and from five monks grew to 60, that left to teach the Dharma to others. By the third century, in Sarnath were living more than 3000 monks and the town became a very important center for culture and arts. At the end of the 12th century, the town was destroyed by the Turks and it remained like that until the British began the restoration, in 1836.

Sarnath is a very peaceful and quite place to walk around. Different Muslim nations have build temples here, among them being Thailand, Japan, Tibet, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. We headed first to the Chinese Temple. We entered to big red gate, decorated with paper lanterns and stepped on the alley that split the garden in two equal parts.  It was a very small temple, too small for us to get inside. In the middle of it there was a big statue of Buddha, on top of which a rainbow shaped form was painted on the wall. The room was filled with flowers and smaller statues of Buddha in different parts of his life.


From the Chinese Temple we headed forwards towards the Sri Lankan Temple, passing by the Sarnath Museum and the Japanese Temple, stopping at the Stupa, which we admired from behind a fence (that’s why the lack of pictures). We took our shoes off and went inside. The Sri Lankan Temple is probably the most famous out of all, here in Sarnath. It was built in 1931 and it’s the home of Buddha’s relics found in Taxila. The walls of the temple are decorated with scenes from Buddha’s life, which were made by Kosetsu Nosu, a Japanese artist. Near the Sri Lankan Temple, there is the Bodhivriksha (The Bodhi Tree), which is considered the most sacred free for Buddhists because when Buddha attained  enlightenment, it was under this tree only. The Bodhi Tree is surrounded by a lot of prayer wheels and a wall of Tibetan prayer flags.



At the end of our trip to Sarnath we visited the giant statue of Buddha. Back in Varanasi, we had a late lunch at a street food joint. We sat down on plastic chairs, at plastic tables, and ordered our food using the images that decorated the walls. The people running the place didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Hindi, but in the end we had a delicious meal. What we ate… no idea! After lunch we went back to the hotel to take our bags, and we headed towards the train station. Our adventure was ending and we were heading back to Delhi. The train journey was very long, it took over 16 hours.

Back in Delhi, we split into groups again and we went exploring the Paharganj bazaar. This is the backpacker area of New Delhi, with hotels at every step. It is a very lively area, going on for miles, all the way to the train station. I bought myself a nice scarf as a souvenir and an Elephant embroiled pillow case for my couch. Here, in at the corner of Main Bazar Rd with Rajguru Marg, there is one of the best lassi shops in the whole area. Even now, when I think about it, I can remember it’s sweet sugary taste. Don’t miss it!

We spend the evening by having dinner on the rooftop of our hotel, saying good-bye to each other. Some of us had their flights that night. Our guide was very sweet, he bought two bottles of wine (wine is very expensive in India) and he gave each of us a hand painted postcard, together with a magnet and a few words about how great the tour was. It was so thoughtful!

For dinner I finally had butter chicken, one of my favorite dishes in the UK. And to be honest, it was a bit disappointing compared with all the other amazing curries I had during the past three weeks.


The last day in Delhi I’ve spent it with my friend Sandeep. We visited Akshardham, a new temple complex opened in 2005, which is massive and attracts 70% of the tourists from Delhi. The whole complex is dedicated to Swaminarayan,  the central figure of a modern sect of Hinduism known as the Swaminarayan Hinduism. The security at the temple is very strict, and photography is forbidden. You have to leave all your belonging to a deposit area, where you are filmed so that you can be identified later when you pick them up.

The complex is huge, and it consists of the Akshardham Mandir (the main temple), the The Hall of Values (a journey through Swaminarayan’s life where robotic puppets are used), the IMAX theater (where they show a movie about Swaminarayan to which I slept through) and a boat ride (through the history of the culture and heritage of India). These are the main exhibitions.

It is an impressive place to visit and you cans spend the whole day there if you want to see it all. Unfortunately the sun set and we had to go back to the hotel. It was time to say good bye to India!

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.


  1. I must say you are very daring trying Lassi and all I personally love it even the savoury one. It is incredible that being a traveller u have been to places in delhi where I am yet to venture out to in the last 15 years. Akshardham being one them

    1. I love sweet lassi, I like how the sugar crystals melt in your mouth. I also like fruit lassi, especially the coconut one, but my heart stays with that sweet lassi from Paharganj! 🙂

  2. Joanna,

    Where are you off to next?

    The Tibetan prayer flags, I was looking at them. There is something about them, I don’t know, maybe because I have never seen it, but I am imaging what it would look like if I were there.

    There is a … calmness. I guess.

    1. Uh, hard to tell. I’ll be going in a few European destinations this year, but I plan my big escape of the year to Chile. On the blog I will probably start writing about last year’s escapade, Cuba. 🙂

  3. You are such a traveler and I envy you. I’ve only been to Hongkong and Singapore thrice. Never been to any other country. Had a taste of Malaysian and Indian food in SG and I fell in love with the mushroom and onion prata and the curry sauce.

    1. I love traveling, I have to travel otherwise I go nuts, haha. 🙂
      Indian food is amazing, but I have seen a huge difference between the Indian food that we have here in the UK and the Indian food from India.

  4. My mom is originally from Varanasi, though I have visited it only twice myself . Next time do try ‘ kachori and kachalu’. Basically deep fried stuffed bread with potato curry with mango shake. It’s usually yummy and my favourite there!

    1. Very good recommendation, thank you! I am always open to new recipes. I hope I will be back to Varanasi one day, who knows… 🙂

    1. Thank you! It’s actually not luck, I save every penny I can to be able to afford to travel and I became an expert in finding cheap plane tickets, haha. 🙂

  5. Nice pictures and post! Thank you for sharing your India travel story. I’m giving you a thumbs up for the fact that you enjoyed your food even though you don’t know what that was (lol!). I also want to experience that long train ride because here in the Philippines, the longest train ride normally is around 30-40minutes, and that’s already end to end. Keep exploring Joanna! ?

  6. I have never traveled in this part of the world, but I had no idea that there were so many different types of religious temples located in one area. It must have really been something to see with the different architectural styles, shapes and colors. Those prayer flags are very colorful.

  7. That’s the second time this week that I’ve read about butter chicken, it’s something very new to me. It seems like you had a great adventure in India.

  8. What a great last day in India! I have almost always hyped up a food so that when I taste it I am disappointed. It is better when you discover it for yourself!

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