Bodhgaya: Beyond the temple walls

I hesitated to make this post, but I finally felt the need to share the other side of this area that doesn’t make it to the “Incredible India” tourist posters.

Bihar is considered one of the poorest states in India. And if one ventures further than the markets and the temples in Bodhgaya, one will see that this village is one of the poorest areas in the state.

This is my third time staying in Bodhgaya, and yet this is the first time I’ve become aware of the magnitude of poverty here in this area. By chance or karma, I landed in a guesthouse that’s right in the middle of village life, so to speak. The guesthouse itself is better than some others I’ve stayed in, and is spotless. I feel safe enough here as well, and would even use the guesthouse again if I return.


But staying here and walking around the back streets has really opened my eyes. I’ve seen slums and other poor areas in India before. Yet here on a daily basis I’m now walking along streets with open drainage, trash, houses without solid doors or roofs, and probably without plumbing. I’m cold enough to be bundled in a fleece over-shirt and scarf, yet there are kids running around without shoes, and sometimes without pants.

All the tourist money coming into the area is obviously not reaching the people that live here, and my heart goes out to them. They seem so resilient, and still friendly, returning the smiles of the strange gori walking through their midst. I realize how very, very fortunate I am.

 

I’ve read some reasons why the poverty continues here despite the town garnering impressive incomes. I’m not from here, and given the state of politics in my home country, don’t feel qualified to propose any reasons or solutions. There are some charities that seem to be doing great work here, but help for most seems to be slow in coming.

My aim in this post is just to share some of the other side, and let you see what’s behind the tourist curtain.

Advertisements

Author: mettatsunami

Just another traveler in the world. Various musings as I visit Buddhist monasteries in the UK, then make my way around the world on an extended pilgrimmage.

10 thoughts on “Bodhgaya: Beyond the temple walls”

  1. Thank-you for this post. The seldom photographed and shared un-tourist but very real part of India. One must always recall the good fortune one has. And, then, do some good because of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s where I lived in 1984. At that time it was the poorest place in India. Functioning leper colony just 7 miles from the village. What is the foreign medical community like there? Take care Peter brown

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Denise, I think it is good to share all the reality of all parts of the world. After my travels, volunteering and then daily seeing such poverty and war torn places on the news, it makes me crazy with all the consumerism of our country at this Christmas time. Every night as I lie in bed, I do think of those going to bed with no shelter and hungry. I am so grateful – and it is pure luck or misfortune to be born where we are. My problem is which charities to contribute to, versus purchasing unneeded presents……… there are so many trying and wanting to help. Thank you for again reminding all who are so blessed it feels better to give than to receive. Best wishes…. gail

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Peter, there are some clinics that provide free health care – not sure if they’re run by local providers or foreign. Had been thinking if I came back that I’d stay longer to do some volunteering. I bet you could write a book on your experiences here!

      Like

  3. Thank you for the reminder that behind the lovely landscapes and beautiful architecture is an India filled with poverty and people in need. It is an awakening that should touch our hearts and open our pocketbooks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I find it tough sometimes to make the view of a country balanced. It’s not all poverty here, but not all rainbows and unicorns either. My perspective also seems largely dependent on my mood, so I try to keep a balance in all things. Sometimes I’m even successful!-)

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s