Pramal (@pramal.lad) — A curious pilgrim on a journey to discover the world we live in and the world within.
🎥 HELP NEEDED! Filmmakers, web developers, story tellers! 🎞 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If you’ve been inspired by our recent journey over the last 16 posts and would like to help us curate the content we have, please get in touch! We are exploring ideas including: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✨ short films which cover all or parts of the journey ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✨ additional interview with the three of us from which we can overlay footage (all iPhone X) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✨ a website which outlines the journey, each location and key facts / resources On a more personal level, I will be exploring some initiatives which bring more peace to our lives back home in London / UK. Watch this space! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #BUDDHAWALK#Buddhism#Filmmaker#Photographer#Storyteller
✳️ [16/16] #BUDDHAWALK: KUSHINAGAR 🇮🇳 - LEFT SPEECHLESS WHERE THE BUDDHA TAKES HIS LAST BREATH OUR FINAL DESTINATION! After 300 km of walking over 30 days - we reach the resting place of the Buddha. Attaining ‘Paranirvana’, he left his body aged 80, in a small town called #Kushinagar. We reach late night and sadly, the amazing ornate Thai monastery is full, so we find ourselves in the friendly Tibetan Buddhist temple. I stand beside the feet of the long golden reclining Buddha - overwhelmed with emotion, grace and gratitude - to have been able to complete this journey, following these very footsteps to this point, where around 2,500 years ago, this great man, scientist, philosopher, thinker would exhale his last mortal breath. I don’t know how, but I know for sure, I won’t be the same person that began this pilgrimage. Although still far from enlightened, I feel something inside me is lighter. A calming awareness, a peace that never existed before. It’s joyful and complete, there is no longer a need or goal or motivation to become someone or something else. I simply am. After his passing, the body of Buddha was cremated at the Ramabhar Stupa from which his remains were distributed amongst the eight kings (a few of the sites we visited and ashes we encountered in Patna museum). We head back to Deoria and spend time with August’s family who feed us and bid us farewell on our way back to UK via Delhi (and a night at #OshoDham). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✨Appo Deepo Bhava ✨ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “Be Your Own Light” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ - last words of Buddha
✳️ [15/16] #BUDDHAWALK: VARANASI 🇮🇳 - THE SACRED, SPIRITUAL AND TIMELESS HOLY CITY Less than 10km away from #Sarnath, is the holy city of #Varanasi, also known as #Banaras or #Kashi. It’s fame pre-dates Buddha by many millennia - evidence going back to 1800 BCE at least. A holy city for Shiva above all, there is a famous Shiva Lingam here beside the Ganges. Many people also come here to die or plan to be cremated by the Ganges, the belief that here lies a portal directly to the divine. And you know what, I’m not so sceptical - there is mystical feeling walking around and getting lost in the narrow streets of this ancient city. Whilst there remains some cleanliness issues and sometimes rude/corrupt priests in the main holy shiva temple, there is still lots of spirituality here - the most divine being at the banks of the Ganges. The famous Ganga Arti is one of those things to do before you die - and it was breath-taking to experience it from a height! Staying at ‘Monu Guest House’ in the heart of the old city, we dive right into the vibe and experiences! From morning arti and ragas at #AssiGhat to walking along the banks to the #BurningGhats. Wandering around you can visit beautiful ancient temples - many hidden away, just be mindful of the endless cows and bulls roaming the streets! Bengali Tolla is the place for foreigners - we discover the best lassi (Bobby Lassi) in town and eat delicious multinational cuisine, making friends along the way! Food around here is as divine as the temples - with amazing coffee, dosas, and even a ‘special thandai bhang lassi’ 😉 Our visit to Kashi Vishwanath temple was a little disappointing. Having been to so many sacred Buddhist temples (e.g. Bodhgaya, which is superbly serene), there is anything but shiva-like calm and contemplation - rather there was pushy priests, chaos and attempts to extract money from foreigners. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait in the 5-6 hours plus queues and did a quick visit via the Foreigner gate.
✳️ [14/16] #BUDDHAWALK: SARNATH 🇮🇳 - BUDDHISM BEGINS Ever felt like you’ve discovered something profound and no one around you really gets it? Well, I guess the Buddha and I have this in common! 🙄😂 After the penny drops in Bodhgaya - the complete awakening has occurred and he is no longer just Siddhartha, but now the Buddha; ‘the enlightened one’. However, in the Gaya area where he was - no one would really understand and so he decides to walk the 250 km journey to #Varanasi, a spiritual epicentre then and still today. The monastic forest (deer park) area close to the city called #Sarnath is where he finds his previous monk mates. We can’t walk that distance, so we do a long drive and check ourselves into the Thai Monastery. Sarnath is significant on the journey - we visit the ruins and spot where the Buddha gave his first sermon (Dhamekh Stupa) and set in motion the wheels of Dhamma. It’s a special atmosphere with many pilgrims walking around the monastery ruins and sites where the Buddha would have unquestionably resided. We also discover the original Ashokan pillar Lion head and chakra - which is the official symbol of India. The Sarnath museum is special with lots of ancient artefacts dating back to the times of Buddha and after. As a ‘sangh’, we sit, share poetry, capture our personal reflections and I write down my own version of noble truths - on the very spot in which the Buddha did this with his fellow monks. A bunch of school children teach us the meaning of being present too…!
✳️ [13/16] #BUDDHAWALK:#BODHGAYA 🇮🇳 - THE SEAT OF ENLIGHTENMENT Six years after he left his palace, Siddharth was at death’s door - starving himself to disconnect his bodily attachment and yet, still hadn’t discovered the inner peace he sought. We start at the Dungeshwari cave in which Siddharth looked more like a skeleton than human - sitting inside the spot where he meditated extensively before walking out towards the Neeranjana river. Our pilgrimage is about to reach the pinnacle of the life of Buddha, and so out of veneration August decides to walk barefoot to the river, where Siddharth would meet Sujata - the young mother who finds him collapsed. Walking mindfully, step-by-step, we imagine what it would have been like for Siddharth, starving and thirsty. Finally, we make it to the spot with Sujata gives the magical kheer, powerfully reminding him of being kind to your body in order to successfully free yourself from it. It’s this moment, that the ‘middle path’ was born. Instead of kheer, however, we only find a humble shop selling pre-packed lassi to quench our thirst with. We found ourselves at the International Meditation Centre for the few nights after having an adventure looking for a place to sleep. With the supermoon occurring whilst we were in Bodhgaya, most places were full. There was a mystical feeling in the air, walking around under a full moon around this holiest of sites. We experience the #Mahabodhi temple and sit beneath the famous peepal tree - 4th generation since the time when Buddha sat there. Being in the presence of so many monks and pilgrims, of the 500+ million #Buddhists, was spectacular. There is a calm, peace and serenity I’ve never experienced at any major religious site. I could have stayed there all day and night. Beyond the temple, there is lots to do including the #RootsInstitute where I got to learn from a wise monk @buddhistandqueer, the archaeological museum with ancient artefacts, lots of hippie cafes and great places to eat, the 80-foot Buddha statue and endless monasteries/temples from various nations.
✳️[12/16] #BUDDHAWALK: RAJGIR 🇮🇳 - SITTING INSIDE ONE OF BUDDHA’S FAVOURITE CAVES! #Rajgir is the place where the Buddha taught the Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom (Prajna paramita), at the Vulture Peak, sixteen years after his enlightenment, to an assembly of 5,000 #monks, nuns and laity, as well as innumerable bodhisattvas. This teaching is known as the second turning of the Wheel of Dharma with a focus on understanding the meaning of ‟emptiness”, sunyata, which is the ultimate nature of phenomena. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The #Saptaparni#cave is hidden in the hill rocks - and is believed to be where the Buddha spent time before his death and where the first #BuddhistCouncil was held after his death. It was here where Ananda, one of the primary disciples, recited the Buddha’s teachings in the oral tradition. It was an extraordinary experience to crawl deep inside these caves and find the spot where they say Buddha sat. At one point, there was no one else in the cave - just me and probably some bats or rats! I certainly felt a eerie calm and peace overcome my being. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Venuvan (bamboo grove) is a special forest which was gifted to Buddha and his monks by King Bimbisar, and became one of his favourite residences. We recreated an epic fight scene from at the Jarasandh Ka Akhada - which dated back 5000 years to times of Mahabharat. As we walked towards Jethian, we explored the Ajatshatru fort and discovered the site of the Bimbisar Jail - where the King and friend of Buddha was imprisoned by his own son (who later repented and became a key proponent of Buddhism!). We also saw what was meant to be the Lord Krishna’s chariot marks from The Mahabharata 😲
✳️ [11/16] #BUDDHAWALK: NALANDA, THE ONCE WORLD-CLASS UNIVERSITY 🇮🇳 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “Nalanda Mahavihara was a scholastic and monastic institute dating back from 3rd BCE to the 13th Century AD. It engaged in the organised transmission of knowledge over an uninterrupted period of 800 years. The historical development of the site testifies to the development of Buddhism into a religion and the flourishing of monastic and educational traditions.” - UNESCO ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Walking around I’m blown away and reminded once again of the depth and knowledge of this great country. Located in #Bihar, now deemed one of the poorer underdeveloped states, it makes my blood boil to see how far we have fallen, with this place being an epicentre for international education, arts, philosophy, science for centuries! (Note: walking through Bihar, I was moved by the kindness and love in the people - don’t listen to the media all the time!) In the 12th Century, during the initial invasions by Islamic rulers, Bakhtiyar Khalji was said to have come and destroyed Nalanda, with folklore saying the ancient texts and 7-story library was burning for months. One challenge we had with the Buddhist faith which controlled this 10,000 strong site - how did so many men not learn the art of defence and protection? There would only be a small number of invaders, but the buddhist philosophy around taking up arms was, at that point, so passive it seems. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It's only thanks to Chinese pilgrim monks like #Xuanzang who travelled in 7th Century AD and recorded their journey, which was kept in tact overseas whilst many of these buddhist sites were destroyed. Worth visiting is a peaceful memorial to Xuanzang in which his journey (which looked pretty much identical to ours!) is mapped out. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We stay at another beautiful Watthai Monastery - engaging with monks and having the opportunity to offer them some service - I decided to give up the bag of 100 face masks as they seemed to love using them more than me!
✳️ [10/16] #BUDDHAWALK: HOLY PATNA 🇮🇳- BUDDHA’S ASHES AND A GURU’S BIRTH PLACE After another long 30km walk, we advance a decent amount before jumping into our car to cross over the Ganges River. We thought it would be interesting to mix up the spiritual places of rest - and with #Patna being famous in the Sikh faith for the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singhji, we decided to try our luck at the Bal Leela Gurudwara (next to the Guru #GobindSingh Takht Gurudwara). As humble pilgrims staying in simple accommodation, we were BLOWN AWAY with what we had in store. For a mere 500 Rs per night (£5) we were given more of a 5-star room in a hotel like building. The whole site was grand and proud, and equally very humble. The spirit of service in Sikh faith really touched our hearts, with 24 hour food and Sikh brothers/sisters always willing to help, we discovered the secret to this love: they see the divine in each person, and so by serving others, they serve God. #WaheGuru We visit an archeological site Patliputra (Kumrahr), linked to the Buddha - however, it had become more of a social green space for locals and lovers now! The highlight for us however was being inches away from the ashes of the Buddha in #PatnaMuseum. These ashes were one of the eight remaining caskets, found in the Vaishali stupa we just went to - they felt it would be safer and have more access in Patna. Ironically, it was very hidden and at one point it, was just us in the guarded secure room! Excuse the really bad poses - we were exhausted and felt quite sombre/reflective at that moment!
✳️ [9/16] #BUDDHAWALK: VAISHALI 🇮🇳 - POWERFUL WOMEN JOIN THE FOLD In #Vaishali, the main archaeological site is #Kolhua, containing more relic stupas and a majestic #AshokaPillar to commemorate the last sermon given by the #Buddha. It was believed that monkeys gave the Buddha a bowl of honey here. The Kolhua site has one of the first female monasteries where #Amrapali and Buddha’s stepmother (Mahaprajapati) would have stayed. What was special for me is walking around the remains of the site and monasteries. One of the buildings was supposed to be the Buddhas monsoon residence, so we sat in various spots to meditate and wonder what it would have been like to be monks and have Buddha walking around, eating, sleeping in these very spaces! We get into a debate around what his real hair would have been like!! Vaishali is famous for many reasons. It was the world’s first republic and purported birth place of #Mahavir, another awakened master around a similar time. Most exciting (for three guys!) is to find the home of Amrapali, the royal courtesan who became one of the first female followers of Buddha. Many tales speak of her astounding beauty and respect, even though she entertained powerful men - she played an important role in that time to demonstrate the respect that women may have received. However, to our huge disappointment, all we find is a broken sign in some dilapidated school yard! And so… we let Amrapali legend stay alive in our minds and hearts ;) The next day, we visited one of the 8 original relic stupas (the ashes remains which we will later visit in Patna museum) and this huge white Shanti Stupa. We stayed at the Sri Lankan Monastery which gave us a different flavour of the #Buddhism. This day was one of our longest walks - covering over 31 km!
✳️ [8/16] #BUDDHAWALK: KESERIA 🇮🇳 - THE ORIGINAL BUDDHA BOWL Believed to be one of the largest in the world, the Kesaria Stupa is believed to be 2300 years old, dating back to Ashoka times. Despite Archaeological Survey of India making this a protected site and being a popular tourist site, the area remains largely underdeveloped. 😲 Fah Sien, a 5th century A.D Chinese Buddhist monk, in his travels, mentioned a stupa which was built over Buddha’s alms bowl by Licchavis of Vaishali. It is now believed the stupa that was referred to in none other than Kesariya stupa. Buddha himself is supposed to have stayed at this site, before he moved to Kushinagar. It is also believed that it was at this spot that he foretold his disciples that the time of his passing was near, and he would soon achieve nirvana. This is also the place where Buddha presented arguably his most revered discourse of Kalama Sutta, which revolves around the acceptance of his teachings only after observation, reflection and careful scrutiny. . We got excited at the prospect of staying at the ‘Zen Hotel’ only to find this was a dodgy and dirty motel, so decided to go eat dinner at clean new restaurant we saw in passing called ‘Bharat Biriyani’. Whilst we enjoyed our usual daal and roti (usually safest bet!) after another long day of walking, we contemplate the idea of sleeping on or around this stupa. Given the low security, it wouldn’t be so hard to sneak in and sleep at the top we scheme…! However, this kind of site in expected to have snakes and other deadly creatures! 😱 The manager of the restaurant gets word of our sleeping dilemma - and very kindly offers a room upstairs he has for free. Quoting ‘attiti devo bhava’ (guest is God) in Sanskrit, Hajji Mohamed Suleman, a kind Muslim uncle, offers three Hindu pilgrims on a Buddhist journey a safe and clean place to rest. Our faith in one humankind just got a little stronger! 🌏 #Footsteps#Buddha#India#Travel#InstaTravel#Explorer#Curiosity#Adventure#Buddhism#Spirituality#Zen#Siddhartha#Meditation#Peace
✳️ [7/16] 🇮🇳 #BUDDHAWALK: CHANKIGARGH SERAI, RAMPURVA PILLARS AND WALKING WITHOUT WATER! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We leave Padrauna by foot, before jumping into the car to catch up on distance before we reach the Chankigargh fort (serai) which some say may have been a stupa, but more common opinion was a Gupta-era fort of #Chanakya, world famous philosopher (the Indian Machiavelli) from 2nd century BCE and author of ‘#Arthashashtra’, the ancient Indian political treatise. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ After re-living childhood dreams of being warriors and commanders in charge upon this fort, we walk towards #Rampurva to find more #Ashoka pillars – this time, fallen and in a cage – hidden amongst from farm land. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We stay in a #Bettiah for the night before setting out on a long walking day as we head in the direction of #Kesaria. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Walking through the villages of #Bihar (regarded as one of the poorest states in India) and we are instantly filled with bliss that is #village life. Breathing deep, the fragrances of farm lands and cow dung, it’s a real joy to walk for hours through lands rarely walked through by tourists. We take a break on a bullock cart to continue our desi experience! How I miss these environments now back in London! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As the terrain was so rough, we actually sent our support vehicle ahead – not realising that it would end up being around 15 km before we would get any water! What a reminder of the preciousness of simple water – when you’re hot, exhausted and know you must keep walking for another few hours! It served a powerful reminder of the nature of the mind and body needs – and how we layer our interpretations and analysis over difficult situations, normally making them worse than they are!
✳️[6/15] #BUDDHAWALK: PADRAUNA 🇮🇳- BUDDHA’S LAST SUPPER ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We visit #Padrauna, believed to be the town where the Buddha ate his last meal (which according to the story had poisonous food that he accepted knowing this was his time). This town is also known in history as a place where Lord Rama spent some time… and now it’s our turn! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We stayed with Dr. Parshuram Singh, an elderly wise uncle of August. An expert and teacher of #meditation, his humble home had lots of books on the topic, as we sat up late at night sharing his wisdom on being a #Vipassana teacher. • Walking across the Gautam Buddha Setu bridge, we cross the #GandakRiver, which takes us from #UttarPradesh into #Bihar. This is a massive river which we believe Buddha would have crossed. • We walk towards Lauria Nandangarh, where there is an #AshokaPillar. According to local history, the pillar was erected to mark this as a holy place containing the ashes of the Buddha. Whilst there is no monument here now, the pillar remains after 2,250 years. The pillar has a lion, symbolic of Ashoka reign and similar to the one on the pillar head (stambha) located in Sarnath museum; the original emblem of India. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ • The gigantic Buddha Stupa in Lauria is 26m high with a circumference of nearly 500m, believed to be one of the largest ancient structures in the world. Erected around 2nd Century AD, it is also believed to be built upon an original site which would have housed Buddha relics. Bhanu Pratap, a local who was in charge of this entire place shows us around. Regardless, it was a remarkably peaceful and quiet place to visit! • • • #Footsteps#Buddha#Nepal#India#Travel#InstaTravel#Explorer#Curiosity#Adventure#Buddhism#Spirituality#Zen#Siddhartha#Meditation#Peace
✳️ [5/15] #BUDDHAWALK: RAMGRAM – UNTOUCHED SANCTITY🇳🇵 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ With the single highest concentration of Buddha’s relics, the #Ramgram Stupa of #Nawalprasi in #Nepal is a truly special and still very hidden gem on our journey. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ According to the Buddhist text, Mahaparinibbana Sutta, Lord #Buddha left his body aged 80 in #Kushinagar in the 5th Century BC. Upon cremation, a group of kings gathered to stake claim to the corporal relics and thus they were divided into eight parts, from which monumental stupas were built. The Koliya kingdom was one of those such sites. After these 8 places were established, they became important pilgrimage and devotion centres for Buddhists. In 3rd Century BC, Emperor #Ashoka came along and decided to open all of these eight stupas and redistribute the relics into 84,000 parts and enumerate stupas all over his country. However, after opening the other seven, he was stopped from opening the Ramgram stupa. The local legend speaks of a ‘naga’ (dragon/snake) 🐍 who would continuously guard and worship day and night. There is evidence to reinforce this as a legitimate site by the courageous and illustrious Chinese pilgrims; #FaHian and #HuenTsiang, who arrived in the 5th and 7th Centuries respectively. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🚶🏽♂️ We accomplish 24 km walking today from Lumbini to Siddharthanagar (Ramgram) and manage to find a friend of August’s to stay with - Santosh, who looked after us at his home. He was school friends with the local mayor, so he arranged a visit to meet Mr Narendra Gupta which was pretty cool to experience! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Thanks to Santosh, we were also introduced to Dr Kaushlendra B. Srivastava - an elderly and retired professor of local history; he had studied many books and written a few himself on this topic, so it was very exciting to hear from a local expert! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This was a our final stop in Nepal before heading back into India! My first trip to Nepal will not be the last… look forward to returning! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #Footsteps#Buddha#India#Travel#InstaTravel#Explorer#Curiosity#Adventure#Buddhism#Spirituality#Zen#Siddhartha#Meditation#Peace
✳️[4/15] #BUDDHAWALK: LUMBINI🇳🇵– SACRED BIRTH ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Siddhartha Gautama was born around 5th Century BC in a place called Lumbini, in present-day #Nepal to Queen Maya Devi and King Shuddhodana. He would later leave his home, aged 29, to seek #enlightenment and become the #Shakyamuni#Buddha when he was 35. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ After setting out from our hotel in #Kapilvastu, walking a good few hours and shaving our heads, we jump in our support car and head to #Lumbini to find somewhere to stay. We enter this beautiful gated enclosure which has the #MayaDevi temple (with a stone marking the exact spot of birth) surrounded by monasteries from all the different Buddhist communities from around the world. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There is an #AshokanPillar (King Ashoka, around 250 BC was a big proponent of Buddhism after his finished his empire rampage!) which most agree as conclusive evidence that this was the very spot of Buddha’s birth. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We find ourselves settling at the #RoyalThaiMonastery - which was a magical portal into another world! We found ourselves amongst Thai monks, a Thailand ambassador (‘Oak’) and even met a celebrity/politician staying there (@sam_yuranunt). Coincidentally, there was a group of walking monks who were passing through, so we had a chance to interact and serve them. ‘Saw’ the enlightened dog was a highlight - he had been following these monks during the last 3 months! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It was unbelievable how peaceful this place was, and to sit in the birth place temple in a corner and meditate; if this was a Hindu temple of such importance, I don’t think we would get this chance (our experience of Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi was shocking with very rude priests!). We explored the area, visited the #WorldPeacePagoda amongst other amazing monasteries. This would be the start of our admiration of #Thai people and their deep love/respect in keeping Buddha’s life story alive. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ After a very special start, we hit the dusty roads of #Nepal on our pilgrimage to retrace the footsteps and thinking of man who would change the destiny of millions of people - bringing #peace and respite from mental suffering.
✳️[3/15] #BUDDHAWALK: KAPILVASTU – NO LOOKING BACK🇳🇵 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ After a long dark and dusty drive, we finally reach #Kapilvastu, a small town close to #Lumbini, the official #birthplace of the Buddha. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Aged 29, Prince Siddhartha left his royal palace, wife and son at midnight during a full moon. That very same Palace has been discovered and excavated under guidance of #UNESCO. Arriving at night, we thought it would be authentic to start to our walk and so we left the hotel for an “evening stroll”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The hotel staff stop us - proclaiming the dangers of walking around so late, scaring us with horror stories of foreigners being arrested, mugged and even kidneys stolen! After the initial panic subsides, our conviction to do this walk with the purest of intentions is manifested…a local resident (Khubiram) appears and offers to show us around and return us safely back. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We walk in what felt like the darkest of nights with an eerie quiet atmosphere. It was a crazy experience with plenty of magic along our route! As we began walking on a dark road, a silver fox appeared from nowhere and guided us for about 5 minutes! #SpiritGuides Then as we walked along a dark main road, all of a sudden the street lights all turned on (checking with Khubiram, this wasn’t normal!). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We find the eastern gate - believed to be where the young prince renounced his royalty and left with his trusted horse Kanthak and loyal driver Channa. As we take a moment to stop and reflect at this exact spot - a small snake appears from the bricks, crossing the gate. We take this as an auspicious sign and symbolic of the fears which will arise on the path to enlightenment. As an active excavation site, we experience a hive of activity the next day meeting many pilgrims, archaeologists, and even interview a local politician! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ According to the story, there is a river near by where Siddharth cut his hair off and left behind his princely clothing. As a token gesture of our initiation for this month-long pilgrimage, we decided to take our hair off too! …In my case, my beard - leaving me feeling very exposed and uncomfortable! . . #Buddha#Nepal#India#Travel
✳️[2/15] FLIGHT TO GORAKHPUR 🇮🇳 THEN SONAULI BORDER CROSSING INTO NEPAL 🇳🇵 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✈️ We land at Gorakhpur airport to be greeted by August’s father-in-law and brother-in-law (Shanu). They treated us to a scrumptious meal which surely gave us plenty of calories to burn! We arranged a car with driver to support us, cover longer stretches, carry bags and worst case act as a hotel room! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Gorakhpur is a large city in Uttar Pradesh and is in close proximity to the Sonauli border crossing into Nepal which we plan to drive across. Gorakhpur airport is actually a military base and so we are mindful of security measures to avoid being shot - seems like the local monkeys didn’t get that memo! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I also discovered that, along with lighters and battery packs, COCONUTS are potentially explosive if checked in! Take note of how fresh faced we all look! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Our first official day of the walk starts tomorrow - as we set off from Kapilvastu, the palace where Prince Siddharth grew up. As it’s located west of his birth place, Lumbini, we plan to go there first, and continue walking East along the journey we think he would have taken on his way down to India. As we drive into Nepal, we have no idea where we are going to sleep! 😱 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #BuddhaWalk#Footsteps#Buddha#Nepal#India#Travel#InstaTravel#Explorer#Curiosity#Adventure#Buddhism#Spirituality#Zen#Siddhartha#Meditation#Peace#sonauli#gorakhpur#monkey
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE BUDDHA In February 2019, along with two friends (August and Ashutosh), I set out to walk in the footsteps of Prince Siddharth Gautama, who was later to become the Buddha. Re-tracing a journey that was made 2,500 years ago relied on a combination of evidence, intuition and serendipitous encounters. By the end, it was clear to us all – none of this could have been planned nor were we ever truly alone. Whilst this was a 300 km walk through Nepal and India, in truth, it was a much longer and deeper journey; from an unsettled mind of suffering to a spirit of stillness and peace. 🧘🏽♂️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Over the next 15 days, I’ll be sharing 15 destinations we visited so you can re-live the journey, share the inspiration and perhaps even encourage a few to visit these historic and sacred sites. 🚶🏽♂️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✳️ [1/15] DELHI – A COOL WELCOME 🇮🇳 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Whilst the night was cool, the warm welcome from my friend Rohit certainly made me feel like this journey had begun with a blessing. A colleague from my days making tractors in Chennai, Rohit had now become a good friend, meeting each other when we had the chance to fly through each other’s respective countries. Rohit insisted on meeting, even for a coffee, and so I suggested we met at the airport due to our tight timing. Without much hesitation, he insisted on taking a 4-hour round trip to drop us to the location we had planned to stay for the night. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 😴 Our first night in Delhi was to be at Saurabh’s house - where we were well fed and housed. This was the first time all three of us had actually met, so it was worthwhile just re-visiting the route and setting some ground rules! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #BuddhaWalk#Footsteps#Buddha#Nepal#India#Travel#InstaTravel#Explorer#Curiosity#Adventure#Buddhism#Spirituality#Zen#Siddhartha#Meditation#Peace#Delhi
I’ve just discovered this man - humble looking elderly Indian could well be one of the few enlightened masters (public at least) since the Buddha. His name is Sri Ramana Maharshi. His words just now struck a chord - the way to peace, enlightenment, God, etc. is not actually to pursue those noble goals, but instead ponder the question “Who am I?”. When we discover the non-reality of our ego and false selves, it’s becomes effortlessly obvious to experience those other things which are real truth. #ramanamaharshi#hindu#spiritualawakening#india#guru#wisdom#buddha#awakening