Bits and Pieces of Sarnath
I had the chance to head into Varanasi and go to the Kriti Art Gallery. It is owned by Navneet and his wife Petra. I had met Navneet at the chanting ceremony, but this was the first chance I had to meet Petra as she had been traveling.
They are a fascinating couple. Navneet regaled me with stories of leaving the fast pace of the investment banking world and joining the art world to open a gallery and how much he had to learn to make the switch.
He introduced me to an amazing number of Indian photographers through the books in his collection. It was very eye opening and such a pleasure to learn from such a passionate person. Navneet has ties all over the world, helping people create items in India, in particular, weavings. I bought a gorgeous scarf from him that had been made for a William Morris show at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
He had also worked on the Ramayana project that resulted in a boxed volume of books that would take your breath away. I am linking to them for your pleasure, should you be interested. Navneet was one of the researchers on the project, and his stories of begging private collections to share their treasures were hysterical.
My phone rang and Wangmo asked me to have the SINI driver take me to a building in town to photograph for possible use in the future.
As we were driving downtown Sarnath I saw this sign Buddha Theme Park and laughed, well, you guessed it, that was the building I was sent to photograph.
The best part was the drive back, the driver was so kind and indulged me in the old “OH STOP” as I jump out and take pictures.
There is so much “commercial Buddhism” in Sarnath put up by the various temples of the various countries, and a Giant Buddha is just one of them.
The thing that excited me was the Chaukandi Stupa. I had read about it but had never had an opportunity to actually lay eyes on it.
The Chaukhandi Stupa is thought originally to have been built as a terraced temple during the Gupta period between the 4th and 6th centuries to mark the site where Lord Buddha and his first disciples met traveling from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath. Later Govardhan, the son of a Raja, modified the stupa to its present shape by building the octagonal tower to commemorate the visit of Humayun, the powerful Mughal ruler.