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Ghats are a series of steps that lie along the banks of a river. In the city of Varanasi, life revolves around these sacred steps because here is where pilgrims take a dip in the River Ganges to wash away a lifetime of sins. While some ghats are more subdued than the others which are colorful, prominent and backed by magnificent sandstone buildings, all of them have an equally intriguing story to tell. Tourists mostly tend to traverse between Panchganga Ghat in the north and Assi Ghat in the south, however there are many beyond these. A fascinating kaleidoscope of human activity awaits you here - women washing clothes, pilgrims taking a dip, cattle cooling off, dogs scouring the area for food, young boys playing cricket or diving into the river, funeral pyre flames rising into the skies ceaselessly, dread-locked sadhus meditating, boatmen soliciting customers, vendors selling flowers and Western tourists filming this Carnival of Life that plays out day-after day in this City of Shiva.
Located in the heart of Sarnath, The Garden of Spiritual Wisdom is one of the most visited attractions of the city. Found behind the striking Chaukhandi Stupa, it is home to an array of sculptures and displays portraying the fundamentals of Buddhism. A small garden inside contains a number of medicinal plants and shrubs, acquainting visitors with Ayurveda and its benefits.
The Deer Park in Sarnath was where Lord Buddha gave his first discourse while sitting amongst the Brahmins of Kapilavastu. Not much seems to have changed even now in these tranquil confines where one can spot the occasional deer frolicking in the foliage, blissfully unaware of the world outside. Reminiscent of the days gone by, one is almost taken back to the history class text book chapter, 'Sermon in the Deer Park'. The word Sarnath actually comes from Saranganath which means 'Lord of the Deer', a nickname given to Buddha.