The Cultural Capital of India
An importance pilgrimage spot in India, Varanasi lies on the banks of the sacred river Ganga. It is believed that Lord Shiva has established his permanent abode at the place. Varanasi takes pride in being one of the most sacred cities that hold importance to Jains, Buddhists and Hindus alike. Varanasi, being the oldest living city, has been a silent witness to innumerable great historic upheavals and events.
The significant Vishvanatha Linga is considered to be the first Jyotirlinga, which is accessed by several streets. The best way to explore the city is on foot or take a boat ride early mornings on the Ganges. The town has also served as an important seat for the ancient education. It has Banaras Hindu University, promoting studies related to Indian culture and heritage. Manikarnika Ghat is the place where a huge number of cremations take place that denotes to the destruction of life, seen by Varanasi. The city is famed for its religious and spiritual lifestyle that attracts people from far and wide.
Varanasi has been serving as a hub of learning and civilisation for over 2000 years. The history of this holy city dates back to 1400 BC. It was around the 8th century AD when Varanasi became prominent when a reformer of Hinduism, Shankaracharya started Shiva Worship as a principal sect. The Afghans demolished Varanasi around AD 1300, after spreading waste to nearby Sarnath. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb proved the most destructive who destroyed many of the temples.
Major Tourist Attractions in Varanasi
Varanasi boasts of being the city of Ghats, which makes the most important feature of the city. It houses around 100 ghats and all are bustling with pilgrims, soaking in spectacular views, taking a dip or simply meditating. Dasaswamedh Ghat is among the most important ghats that derives its name from the legend, which says that ten horses were sacrificed by Brahma.
It is interesting to see the evening aarti here when thousands of diyas are floating on the river.
Manikarnika Ghat serves as the main cremation ground of the city. It is believed that a cremation here grants an entry to heaven and frees one of the cycles of life and death. The Tulsi Ghat is another important ghat for being the place where Tulsi das, a great Hindu poet spent his last days.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Kashi Vishwanath is the chief deity whom the entire city is dedicated to. Kashi Vishwanath is one of the manifestations of Lord Shiva. The presence of the temple makes Varanasi as the holiest city in India. It is dedicated to Vishwanath Jyotirlinga, who is among the twelve religiously acclaimed Jyotirlingas of the country.
Popularly referred to as the Golden Temple, Vishwanath Temple positions itself in the campus of Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Built by the Birla family, the temple is also called as Birla temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this new Vishwanath Temple has the similar structure of Kashi Vishwanath temple. The walls of the temple are decorated with the stunning sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
Lying on the confluence of five sacred rivers, Panchganga Ghat is a prominent attraction of the city. These rivers include The Ganga, The Yamuna, The Saraswati, The Dhupapapa and The Kirna. It serves as an important religious attraction for Hindus. This Ghat has the eight water front locations for performing religious rituals.
Bharat Mata Temple
Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi, it is the only temple, dedicated to Mother India. The main statue is built in marble, depicting undivided India.
Banaras Hindu University (BHU)
Built in 1917, it is one of the oldest educational centres in India. The university serves as an important seat for the study of science, humanities, social science, medicines, technology and fine arts. Sprawled over a vast stretch of landscaped gardens, it houses a temple and gorgeously designed buildings.
Other Places to See
Durga Temple, Tulsi Manas Temple, Sankat Mochan Temple, Bharat Kala Bhavan, Jantar Mantar and Ramnagar Fort are the few popular places to visit in Varanasi.
Cities like Allahabad, Sarnath and Kushinagar are good options to go for excursions.
Best Time to Visit
From October to March
Varanasi is famous for its rich variety of cuisines. Chinese, Continental and Italian all type of food is available in the city. Tangy and Spicy North Indian food is also very popular.
Varanasi is well-known for its Betel Leaf (Paan) and silk saris. Besides Benarasi Silk Sarees, you can also pick handicrafts items, brassware and copper ware and jewellery.
Varanasi, being a popular tourist destination houses many accommodation options. These include luxury hotels, guest houses and budget hotels.
How to Reach
Varanasi is well-linked and is easily accessible to all the prime cities of India. Tourists can avail regular domestic flights to and from Varanasi to several Indian cities.
The Kashi Junction and the Varanasi Junction are the two railway stations in the city that connect it to various major cities of India. Tourists can also board from Mughal Sarai that lies 10 km south of the city.
Varanasi has an excellent network of roads. Many public and private buses & road transport connect to the major cities of Uttar Pradesh.