Varanasi Study Trip
Day 1 – 28th October, 2015
12:00 pm: Sixteen Students along with two teachers and one artist reach IIT B.H.U guest house.
2:00 pm: The students visit the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum. They have a brief interactive session with the Ex. Director General of National Museum Delhi, Dr V.V Biswas. Here, the students are exposed to the rich collection of the museum that spans across 14 galleries. The Director of the museum Dr.Ajay Singh further enumerates on the rare collection of paintings, sculptures and coins which are unique to the museum’s collection.
5:00pm- 9:30pm: After the museum visit the students reach Assi ghat. Inspite of the drizzling rain we decide to undertake the Bajra ride (a big boat that could accommodate 50 people at a time) across the Assi Ghat. The students underwent a unique experience of witnessing a live performance by Hindustani Classical singer – Sriparna Nandi on the banks of river Ganga. The dohas of Kabir, songs of Meera Bai and Shiva Stotras also provided them with a different perspective of understanding music and our rich musical traditions/gharanas. After the musical recital the student were taken to the banks of Dasaswamedh ghat from where they saw the Ganga arti. The bajra journey ended with the last glimpses of Manikarnika ghat. This journey along the ghats made the students think/question the quintessential reason for our existence and somewhere introspect the cycle of life. On one hand, they witnessed the celebration of life and on the other, the mourings and rituals revolving around death.
9:30 pm: Students were given a writing exercise to document their thoughts and experiences during their first day at Varanasi.
Day 2nd – 29th October, 2015
5:00 am: Students visited the Kashi Viswanath Mandir. The students were briefly told about its cultural and religious significance. Especially being one of the 12 jyotirlingas found in India, the devotees travel across the length and breadth of the country to visit this holy shrine.
10:00 a.m- 11:30 p.m: The students had an interactive session with Prof. Rajeev Sanghal (Director IIT BHU). His lecture underlined the basic principles of existentialism and human values. He made the students reflect on ‘Why you are doing, what you are doing’ through highly illustrative and engaging examples and metaphors. His lecture somewhere resonated with the questions and thoughts that were triggered in these young minds during their prior visit to the ghats.
3.00 pm – 5.00 p.m: The students visited the Ramnagar fort and museum situated on the opposite side of Tulsi Ghat. This 18th century fort belongs to Anant Narayan Singh. The Sarawati museum exposed the students to the rich Heritage of Varanasi – their Vintage collection, the cross cultural exchanges for example the Indo- Iranian trade route which led to several cultural and political alliances. The museum also houses several gifts from rulers across the Indian sub-continent.
6.30pm-7.30 p.m: An interactive session of the students with Mr.Amitabh Aggarwal Director of NIIT, Varanasi ) He provided an enriching account of Varanasi’s cultural and historical importance and why it is still considered one of the oldest living cities of the world.
7.30 p.m – 9.30 p.m: Visit to Viswanath galis. The students relished the local delicacies and imbibed the multi-cultural essence of the city through the lanes and by lanes around Viswanath temple.
10.00 pm- 11.30pm: Visit to Sankat Mochan temple. The students had a brief interactive session with the high priest of the temple – VV Mishra (BHU professor by profession). He heads the Sankat Mochan Foundation that is engaged with cleaning and protecting Ganges from pollution.
Day 3, 30th October,2015
6.00 am: ‘Subah Banaras’ at Assi Ghat. Students witnessed the early morning life and activities at the ghat.
7.00 a.m: Visit to the Sankat Mochan Foundation laboratory. The students were shown how the laboratory functions and its contribution to the clean Ganga campaign.
8.30- 9.30 a.m: Students enjoyed the local delicacies and food at popular dhabas.
10.30 – 5.00 p.m: Visit to Sarnath, Jain temples and shrines. Students were given a brief lecture on the cultural and religious significance of Sarnath, the significance of Dharmarajika Stupa, remains of Asokan pillar and the 2nd century B.C Viharas.
5.00 pm: The students along with the accompanying teachers left the beautiful and lush green BHU Laxmi Divas guest house for Banaras railway station.