25th February 2016, Thursday…Day (6) Ayodhya-Kushinagar-Muzaffarpur, 418 km
After fabulous sleep, getting up and alighting out of the car that morning at Ayodhya was a wonderful feeling. Chaos of the evening was gone and so were the hawkers, rehri walas and the crowd. Vehicles parked near my car were gone too. Morning was beautiful but its beauty was marred by filth and dirt all around.
Walking alone over the wide Sarayu Bridge, the sea of temples, hymns in the air, boats floating on the tranquil waters, pilgrims praying at the ghats, were all adding to the already serene and spiritual aura. It felt good to be walking at such a fabled place, the place about whom I have been hearing since childhood and stuck in memory lane for ages through regular watching of Ram Leela every year.
Sun rising from behind the rail bridge over Sarayu River was a lovely sight too. The horizon, the river and surroundings were fast glowing into pink with each passing minute.
Lalpari was not to be left behind too. Drove across the bridge to have a look at the area.
Some pilgrims took a boat ride to a mass of land inside the river to bathe and pray.
Ayodhya, situated on the right bank of Sarayu River, also known as Saket, is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram and the setting of the epic Ramayana. The 9000 years old city is believed to be the capital of ancient Kosala Kingdom and regarded as one of the seven most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus.
Pretty soon, there was lot of activity at the ghats. Lot many people joined in bathing, praying and boating.
Flowers, incense and tobacco all go hand in hand.
Early morning activity at Naya Ghat Ayodhya
A normal warning at all crowded places in India
Some of the many temples at Ayodhya.
Sadhu, Chai and Smile.
Monkeys looking for bounty.
Naya Ghat, Temples and Lalpari.
The River and The Bridge.
After having nice time at the ghat and on the bridge, drove towards Ram Janam Bhoomi site. Security was huge all around and after a certain point vehicles were not allowed. I parked the car in the parking, walked through the main bazar leading to Ram Janam Bhoomi.
It was nice walking through the main bazaar. Everything was going along smoothly. Except for the presence of heavy security there was nothing unusual about Ayodhya.The local people were living harmoniously and were not much bothered about any dispute whatsoever.
There were number of temples and shops selling souvenirs and prasad throughout the bazaar. Pilgrims were seen walking towards and returning from Ram Janam Bhoomi site.
There were many entrances to the Janam Bhoomi site but the main entrance was just after crossing Maharaja Dashrath Palace.
Chakravarti Maharaj Dashrath Mahal, known as Bada Asthan and Badi Jagah, at Ramkot presented a very colorful sight. Maharaja Dasharath is believed to have resided here with his kith and kin.
At the main entrance I was told to deposit wallet, camera, laptop, belt, shoes and everything except clothes I was wearing and money, at the locker. Somehow I decided not to and went back to where my car was parked. Left all the objectionable objects in the car and walked back to the main gate again.
This time I had only one objectionable thing, car key, which I was instructed to deposit in a safe locker provided for the purpose. We were then herded in a crowded queue and frisked at least three times over a period of two hours while passing through many barricaded narrow pathways.
Finally we reached a small raised open platform and had darshan of Ram Lalla at Janam Bhoomi.
It was midday and I couldn’t stay in Ayodhya for long thereafter and drove towards Kushinagar on NH 27.
Driving on NH 27 was good barring that it had too many tolls.
On the way to Kushinagar
Spotted a punjabi dhaba, Nahar Singh Da Dhaba on NH 27 and had yummy butter chicken and tandoori roti.
Kushinagar is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Gautam Buddha is believed to have attained Parinirvana after his death. It is an International Buddhist Pilgrimage Centre and every follower of Buddhism, especially from Asian countries, wish to visit this place at least once in their lifetime.
Ramabhar Stupa, believed to be the cremation site of Buddha.
Statue of Reclining Buddha inside Parinirvana Stupa, Kushinagar.
It was almost evening when I reached Kushinagar. Kushinagar looked a very neat place with wide clean well decorated roads, dotted with beautiful buddhist temples from many countries.
I was told the main buddhist sites were Rambhar Stupa, where buddha was believed to be cremated around 2500 years ago and Parinirvana Stupa built by Govt of India in 1956, having statue of reclining buddha inside.
Luckily I was just in time and was able to visit both the pilgrimage sites. It was good to see large group of international pilgrims at the site.
Light was fading fast and I had to make the decision where to spend the night. As usual I followed my heart and left the neat and clean environment of Kushinagar and was on NH 27 again.
The intention was to spend the night wherever it felt good. I always love driving on the highways during night and this one was no exception too. So continued driving and enjoying untill I hit a nice dhaba on the highway in Muzaffarpur. There were many trucks parked too. It felt safe. So after a nice dinner from the dhaba, parked the car on a side of the road, slipped inside, pulled the cover over and went to sleep.
Many people had advised me not to sleep inside the car in Bihar but somehow my heart said it’s okay, so here I was, for the first time in life, sleeping inside the car on a highway in Bihar.
Map of the route followed for the day