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Sravasti & Lucknow

Lucknow Travel Blog

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Vishwa Shanti Bell, Sravasti, India.

It had been very cold tonight. Maybe not as cold as back in Holland, where it was freezing seven degrees, but still cold enough to dive as deep beneath the blankets as possible. When the alarm went off at eight I jumped out of bed, crossed the large ballroom-like section of our room and got ready for the warm shower I was looking forward to so much. The showerhead puffed out some air and then went silent. Damn, no hot water. Without a doubt the Japs/Taiwanese had used up all hot water since they were nowhere to be seen when we went to the restaurant for breakfast. Puri's, toast, omelette, potato curry ... we had a good breakfast, although I was a bit worried about not having been to the toilet at all since I'd taken the medicine yesterday morning. Most probably another explosion would await me soon.

 

Sravasti is another important Buddhist pilgrimage place.

Lotus boy, Sravasti, India.
It was one of the six largest Indian cities during the Buddha's lifetime and was called Savatthi at the time. It was a very fertile area because of the nearby Rapti River. The Buddha spent 25 rainy seasons in Sravasti, making it the place where he lived the longest amount of time, preaching no less than 871 sutras. The Buddha spent most of the time at the Jetavana monastery, the ruins of which can still be seen in Sravasti.

 

It was at these ruins that our day started (after first ringing the big Vishwa Shanti bell near to hotel). A peaceful area, still half-shrouded in the cold morning mist. What made it even more special was the presence of a large group of Sri Lankan monks that were meditating and praying around the two major sites of the Jetavana: the Gandhakuti (Buddha's hut) and the Anandabodhi tree (a sapling of the original Boddhi tree of Bodhgaya).

Anandabodhi tree, Jetevana ruins, Sravasti, India.
It was at this tree that I found two Bodhi leafs for myself and Andre.

A local monk showed us around the remaining foundations of the many stupa's and monasteries, explaining where the Buddha would sleep, eat and have his head shaven. It had taken us a long time to get here, but it was special enough to make it well worth the long journey.

 

Before continuing to Lucknow, where we would take a flight back to Delhi tomorrow we visited two more stupa's near the river: Pakki Kuti and Kucchi Kuti (also known as Angulimala stupa and Anathapindika's stupa). Strangely formed in stepped designs they were not overtly interesting, so before noon we went southwards towards Lucknow, 175 km further down the road.

Sri Lankan monks, Jetevana ruins, Sravasti, India.

 

We were making good progress (for Indian standards). Bart and I kept ourselves entertained by reading (I had just started in Noah Levine's Dharma Punx) and making up alternative lyrics for the Hindi songs that UK was playing on the car stereo and which we knew by heart since leaving Varanasi.

Around three we stopped for a drink and some food at a roadside dhaba. Bart didn't quite trust the food but I had learned that fried rice with vegetables is normally a safe choice, so I ordered a plate of that with a Thumbs Up coke. Today was a rather chilly day and even though we had found a spot in the sun I still needed my hoodie to feel comfortable.

 

It was immediately clear that we had reached Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, by the apartment flats that started to appear around us.

Sri Lankan monks, Jetevana ruins, Sravasti, India.
A somewhat comforting sight after the many poor villages that we had crossed in the last week. This comfort was of short duration since Lucknow came with one of the characteristics of every Indian city: traffic jams. Nevertheless, with patience, asking some directions and the help of the Lonely Planet we were able to find the La Place hotel, arriving at exactly 17:00 hours.

 

This hotel was the most luxurious we had stayed in so far, clearly meant for businessmen, although the reception was much more welcome than at Patna's Ashok hotel (no Indian version of Hitler here).

Jetevana ruins, Sravasti, India.
A nice environment to rearrange our luggage, getting ready for tomorrow's trip back home, take a shower and relax before heading out for  a meal.

 

Our plans for a meal were very specific tonight. Not only did we know what we wanted to have (Indian sweets and chaat!) but also where we wanted to have this. Our information suggested two places on Mahatma Gandhi road, so that's where we headed.

In the restaurant where you could have chaat inside, the Moti Mahal, the place was absolutely packed. This obviously was a popular spot. But downstairs they had a sweetshop with all kinds of interesting stuff. We decided to buy a box with five varieties, two of each. Outside we dug into our box, to the amazement and amusement of the local Indians around us. My first sweet was delicious, but I hadn't expected it to be filled with some sugary liquid, so I spoilt the sticky stuff all over the front of my hoodie. Fortunately the patrons of the shop were familiar with the problem of stickiness for they had placed a tap to wash your hands near their storefront. All of the sweets tasted good to delicious, and completely filled up we went to the near Café Today to wash it all down with a trustworthy and high quality cup of the brown stuff.

Remainders of stupa's, Jetevana ruins, Sravasti, India.

While drinking my coffee I noticed on the advertising flat screen that a movie I had seen advertised a lot in the last week (Gandini) was actually an Indian remake of one of my favourite movies, Memento, complete with song and dance! It's a shame we didn't have time to see it for it must have been a surreal experience.

 

We decided to check if there was any free spot at the Moti Mahal yet, but the place was still packed. We therefore decided to check the second choice, Muman's Royal café, where the chaat was prepared and sold straight at the pavement. They fried up funny little potato baskets here that could be filled with your chaat of choice, with sauces and all slammed on top. I was still pretty full of the sweets so I suggested that Bart picked something and I would simply steal a couple of scoops. He opted for the mixed basket and returned with the biggest grin on his face, showing something that (as most chaat does) looks completely inedible, but tasted marvellously. No wonder all Indians are crazy about this fast food.

 

Back in the hotel we grabbed a beer on the roof terrace and before retiring to our room we checked in for our flights through the Internet.

Bart and our monk guide, Jetevana ruins, Sravasti, India.
Tomorrow we would take it easy, skip all the sightseeing and just experience the centre of Lucknow in a relaxed mode, before heading to the airport.

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Vishwa Shanti Bell, Sravasti, Indi…
Vishwa Shanti Bell, Sravasti, Ind…
Lotus boy, Sravasti, India.
Lotus boy, Sravasti, India.
Anandabodhi tree, Jetevana ruins, …
Anandabodhi tree, Jetevana ruins,…
Sri Lankan monks, Jetevana ruins, …
Sri Lankan monks, Jetevana ruins,…
Sri Lankan monks, Jetevana ruins, …
Sri Lankan monks, Jetevana ruins,…
Jetevana ruins, Sravasti, India.
Jetevana ruins, Sravasti, India.
Remainders of stupas, Jetevana ru…
Remainders of stupa's, Jetevana r…
Bart and our monk guide, Jetevana …
Bart and our monk guide, Jetevana…
U.K. and Ed, Sravasti, India.
U.K. and Ed, Sravasti, India.
Bart and U.K., Sravasti, India.
Bart and U.K., Sravasti, India.
Pakku Kuti (Angulimala Stupa), Sra…
Pakku Kuti (Angulimala Stupa), Sr…
Kucchi Kuti (Anathapindika Stupa),…
Kucchi Kuti (Anathapindika Stupa)…
Surviving on the road ... literatu…
Surviving on the road ... literat…
Baking Jalebis, Lucknow, India.
Baking Jalebis, Lucknow, India.
Indian sweets ...
Indian sweets ...
... and basket chaat.
... and basket chaat.
Lucknow
photo by: edsander