Friday, January 30, 2009

23-26 January – Bhimbetka and Sanchi, India

Many of the historical places we are visiting in India are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The list includes Bhimbetka, a peaceful place on a hill south of Bhopal in the center of India. There are 750 rock shelters on the hill, and rock paintings have been found in 500 of them. The red and white pigment paintings depict animals and people. They are said to be 10-12 thousand years old. When you look at some of the most well preserved paintings, it is completely impossible to imagine that they are so old. They look so vivid, so alive, so fresh.
We continued to Sanchi, north of Bhopal. When the Mauryan emperor Ashoka realized that he had been very cruel in a war, he converted to the peaceful religion of Buddhism in the year 262 BC. Actually, Buddhism seems to be an offspring to Hinduism, Buddha being just one of many manifestations of the Hindu god Vishnu. Anyway, Ashoka felt an urge to build a large stupa (Buddhist holy building) in Sanchi. And tourists are very happy about that decision. It is a great looking monument which we enjoyed in the honey-colored afternoon sun.

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