Photos by Indira Mohabeer (American University) Student Correspondent for UW in India: Varanasi, Fall 2019 On one of our many extracurricular excursions in Varanasi, we visited the accredited Central University for Tibetan (Buddhist) Studies in Sarnath! The lobby was absolutely breathtaking, and displayed the very powerful and reverent essence of Buddhist artistry! Look at this amazingly intricate little Buddha detail! So here is the story behind this photograph. Since arriving in Varanasi, the Ganges had been very flooded, which meant that we were not able to take a boat ride on the holy river for about 2 months…until now. The boat operators allowed me to even lay down on the front of the boat, I was so excited! (P.S. I was not aggravated in this pic, the sun was just in my eyes- lol) I actually accidently captured this beautiful photograph of one of our boat operators. Not to toot my own horn, but… TOOT! To be completely frank, the holy Ganges river has become quite polluted over the years. Despite this fact, many people take a dip in her waters on a daily basis. Here is one of those moments. After own breathtaking boat ride along the Ganges, we landed on the coast and ventured all the way up to a sacred Vishnu temple. In front of one of the shrines of the deity, our guide (Ajay-ji) showed us the footprints of Lord Vishnu. Though the entire deity is important, many Hindus find the footprints of a God to hold great significance, and usually worship them. Do you know what this is? If you guessed a Shiva lingam (and Shakti Yoni), then you were correct! The Lingam and Yoni are both abstract representations of the penis (lingam) and the vagina (yoni), and also represent a combination of masculine and feminine energy. You can find these icons all over Varanasi on any given day! We visited the grave and Shaheed shrine of an Indian saint. While inside, we were asked to cover our heads, and light some incense in reverence for the martyr/ saint. Can you find the incense I burned?! (P.S. It’s ok if you can’t, I can’t either haha) We finally reached back to the banks of the Assi Ghat, and I was so shocked to see how much the Ganges had received. Looking forward the more boat rides in the near future!