Monday, April 5, 2010

Bodhgaya Vacation - Part 2

Post 3-16-10 Bodhgaya

After a two-hour drive we arrived at Rajgir, where Buddha lived and preached and put in motion his second Wheel of Law. Last time I visited, the highlight was riding the rickety ski lift to the Peace Pagoda atop the mountain. This time, however, we were shocked to find that the ski lift was OUT OF ORDER (and had been for a month)! So there we were at 2 pm with temperatures in the mid-90s and a very high hill to climb.

But with the help of a nice walking stick rented for 20 rs and a fairly constant breeze that cooled our broiling bodies, we made it, first, to the caves where Buddha did the severe penance while trying to reach nirvana (which he finally reached under the Bodhi tree)that resulted in the image of him as a skeletal, emaciated man... and then to the Peace pagoda at the top where the steady drumming from the Japanese temple reverberated around the mountaintop and the huge Peace Pagoda.

We spent several hours hiking and relaxing and chugging cold drinks. Kata danced at the caves which were strewn with Buddhist prayer flags. I filmed Kata and yarnbombed the branch of a small tree festooned by flags. We all posed for hundreds of photos with pilgrims visiting the shrine.

On the way back, we stopped at some ruins of ancient caves and the hot baths where locals bathed for free and we were mobbed by “poor priests” asking for donations that would make our every wish come true.

And then came the horrible highlight of our trip.... while driving, we saw an accident up ahead... a motorcycle and bloody body laying in the street. We all looked on in horror as various cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles --including our car -- wound around the crash site and continued on their way without stopping.

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