Places to visit in Varanasi
Varanasi is a city in India one must visit once in their lifetime. Considered as the holiest of Hindu cities, it is as old as civilization and the very town breathes divine bliss. The important seat of learning in India, in fact one of the earliest of the country, the town is located in the North Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. Known as the city where life comes to a full circle, as it is witness to Indian rituals of birth to death. The River Ganges, believed to the holy is worshipped as a Mother Goddess in India flows through Varanasi granting it immortality and the chance to bask in the divine blessings. For a real insight into the mystical mysteries of India, Varanasi tours open up the golden window,
Situated along the holy River Ganges, Varanasi enjoys a picturesque setting. The name of the town was formerly Kashi, then Benaras and the current name Varanasi is said to be a compound of the names of two streams, the Varuna and the Assi, which still flow in the north and south of the city respectively. Varanasi is probably one of the most ancient living cities in India. From time immemorial it has been a great religious center for Hindus and one of their most sacred places of pilgrimage, being visited by millions of people every year.
The places worth visiting in the city of Varanasi are several. The ghats (stepped banks) that dot the riverside, and the hundreds of temples that form part of the old city of Varanasi. Walk through the bylanes of Varanasi and in every nook and corner come across temples, sacred shrines and the reminiscent of the bygone era. The city has a reputation of weaving, creating handlooms, handicrafts, etc. The weaver’s community is interesting to explore as you can witness the beautiful creation in front of your eyes. Or, even better you can purchase some of the finest masterpieces to take back home. A visit to Sarnath is also a must of a visit to Varanasi. 13 km from the city, it is a Buddhist site where Lord Buddha delivered his sermons and till date there are stupas that are marked with his teachings.
The Ganga aarti is the most mesmerizing experience in Varanasi. The daily ritual of worship of the River Goddess is held at dawn and dusk that truly connects you with the divine. The aarti ceremony at dusk is truly spectacular. The taste of the local food, boat ride on the Ganges in the early morning, walking tour of the city make fond memories of a holiday in Varanasi.
Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main ghat in Varanasi on the Ganga River. It is located close to Vishwanath Temple and is probably the most spectacular ghat. Two Hindu legends are associated with it: according to one, Brahma created it to welcome Shiva, and in another, Brahma sacrificed ten horses during Dasa-Ashwamedha yajna performed here. The present ghat was built by Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao in the year 1748. A few decades later, Ahilyabahi Holkar, the Queen of Indore rebuilt the ghat in the year 1774. Close to the ghat, overlooking the Ganga lies the Jantar Mantar, an observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur in the year 1737.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Vishwanath Gali of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The Temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva Temples. The main deity is known by the names Shri Vishwanath and Vishweshwara literally meaning Lord of the Universe. Varanasi city is also called Kashi in ancient time, and hence the Temple is popularly called as Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The etymology of the name Vishveshvara is Vishva: Universe, Ishvara: lord, one who has dominion. The Temple has been referred to in Hindu scriptures for a very long time as a central part of worship in the Shaiva Philosophy. It has been destroyed and re-constructed a number of times in history. The last structure was demolished by Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site. The current structure was built on an adjacent site by the Maratha ruler, Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, First Sikh Maharaja, donated 1 ton Gold for flaming Temple's Dome.
Asi Ghat is one of the five extraordinary ghats in India; where the pilgrims are supposed to bathe in all the ghats on the same day and in order. The order is Asi, Dasaswamedh, Barnasangam, Panchganga and finally Manikarnika.
Sarnath: Located 12 km from the holy city of Varanasi, Sarnath is the most important pilgrimage site for the Buddhist. Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon in Sarnath after attaining enlightenment in Bodhgaya. Between the 3rd and 11th century AD several Buddhist structures were constructed in Sarnath that makes it the most expansive ruins amongst different places on the Buddhist trail. Some of the most eminent Buddhist monuments at Sarnath are the Dhamekha stupa and the Chaukhandi stupa.
The day begins early with a Dawn Boat Ride on the holy river Ganges. The guide will pick you up from hotel and will take you to the river Ganges. The city and the river Ganges comes alive at dawn, when hundreds and thousands of devotees come to the river to worship the Sun God. The edge of the river looks amazing from a boat at sunrise and this sight is spiritually uplifting. Hinduism is deep and magical; it is everywhere, in the sight of a sparkling temple, in the sound of a sacred bell, in the prayer chants of the priests and in the smell of the flowers.
Durga Temple was constructed in the 18th century by a Bengali Maharani. This temple is commonly known as the ‘Monkey Temple’ as many monkeys have made it their home. The construction of this temple is in Nagara style (North Indian style). The temple has a Durga Kund (Kund means Pond or pool). The temple has multi-tiered shikharas and is stained red with ochre, which represents the color of Durga. This temple is closed for non-Hindus.
Evening Aarti Ceremony -- It takes place every sunset at the Dasaswamedh Ghat,near Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi. It is a highly choreographedceremony. The aarti is performed on a stage by a group of young pandits(priests), all draped in saffron colored robes with their puja plates spreadout before them. It commences with the blowing of a conch shell, and continueswith the waving of incense sticks in elaborate patterns and circling of largeflaming lamps that create a bright hue against the darkened sky. The movementof the lamps, held in the pandits' hands, is tightly synchronizing to therhythmic chants of hymns and clang of cymbals. The heady scent of sandalwoodthickly permeates the air. An excellent way to end your day in Varanasi.
Bharat Mata Mandir is located on the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith campus in Varanasi, India. Instead of traditional statues of gods and goddesses, this temple has a huge map of undivided India carved in marble. This temple is dedicated to Bharat Mata and claims to be the only one of its kind in the world.