VARANASI – IT’S A CITY THAT APPEARS TO BE EXISTING SINCE TIME IMPERIAL.  Dubbed the City of Lights or Kashi, Varanasi is a holy town situated on the west bank of the River Ganga. Call it the land of Shiva or simply a historic city that has several mysteries concealed deep within.

Varanasi has stayed an important pilgrimage center in India and for those visiting from outside the country it reflects authentic India. This post takes you on a journey of the holy city of Varanasi and suggests you some of the best places to see here:

 

Religious Edifices:

New Vishwanath Temple

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It is one of the most famous temples and biggest tourist attractions in the holy city of Varanasi . The temple is situated in Banaras Hindu University and is dedicated to the Lord Shiva. Shri Vishwanath Mandir has the tallest temple tower in the world. The temple was constructed by the famed Birla family and hence is also known as Birla Temple. Shri Vishwanath Mandir, although a Lord shiva temple, consists of nine temples within one temple and is open to people from all castes, religions and religious beliefs.  The architecture of the temple is inspired by the old Vishwanath Temple and the structure is made of white marbles. The most eye catching thing is the walls of the temple are adorned with the text of gita.

Kashi Vishwanath/Golden Temple

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Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most important place to see in Varanasi. The history of this sacred shrine can be traced back to 3500 years. The temple is one of the 12th Jyotirlingas, which are considered the holiest Shiva temples. The Linga is the presiding deity here and the temple is quadrangle, surrounded by temples of other gods. The temple once had a golden spire and domes; hence it was also called the Golden Temple.

Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple

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It is one of the sacred temples of the Hindu god Hanuman in the city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh,India. It is situated by the Assi river on near to the Durga and the New Vishwanath temple within the BHU camp Sankat Mochan Temple was founded by Tulsidas who was the author of the Ramacharitamanasa.

 

Tulsi Manas Temple

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This temple is yet another important shrine in Varanasi. Dedicated to Lord Rama, Tulsi Manas Temple is situated next to another famed shrine called Durga Temple. It is a white-marble temple that has its walls covered with the text from Tulsi Das written Ramcharitramanas. It is believed that the temple is located at a place where Tulsi Das wrote this famous Indian epic.

 

Bharat Mata Temple

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This temple is one of its kinds as instead of being dedicated to any god or goddess, the temple is dedicated to Bharat Mata or India (assumed as Mother). The temple is situated in Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth Campus. Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936, the temple was an inspiration for those who were fighting the war of independence. The statue in the shrine denotes mountain, plain and ocean and the major highlight of the temple is the relief map of India carved on a marble.

 

Alamgir Mosque

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Alamgir mosque is famed for its exquisite architecture and enviable location. The mosque is situated on the edge of River Ganga and enjoys a picturesque scene. Said to be built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who is believed to have demolished the old Kashivishwanath Temple and constructed this mosque in its place; Alamgir mosque is a fine piece of architecture. The mosque is also known as Gyanvapi mosque due to the well of the same name situated close to it. One can notice the influence of North Indian or Hindu architecture in this mosque; however most of the mosque is done in Islam architecture.

 

Popular Ghats in Varanasi:

 

Panchganga Ghat – the meeting of the five rivers. There are numerous images of the five river goddess, namely, Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Dhutpapa and Kirana. Many devotees throng this ghat in hopes of attaining blessings from these five goddesses.

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Manikarnika Ghat – the main cremation ghat; a must-see, but remain quiet and never take photographs It is also known by the name of Burning Ghat as the dead bodies are burnt here regularly. It is a popular belief here that those who are cremated here get Moksha.

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Dasaswamedh Ghat – known as the ‘main’ ghat, this is the site of the large evening aarti ceremony. . The ghat is situated near the Vishwanath temple and is famous for its evening aarti. Often crowded with sadhus, sanayasis, beggars and devotees, this ghat is an important landmark of Varanasi city.

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Rana Ghat There is a palace near the ghat, which is believed to be the place where the Maharaja stayed during his pilgrimage. The palace boasts of its rich Rajputana architecture and attracts lots of tourists.

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Shivala Ghat  Shivala Ghat is amongst the finest ghats in Varanasi that very well reflects the historic era. The ghat is famed for its Shiva Temple that was built in the 19th century by a Nepalese King called Sanjay Vikram Shah. The ghat is quite popular amidst the devotees who come here to take a dip in the holy water.

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Tulsi Ghat -This ghat is named after the great poet Tulsidas, who is believed to be the author of the Hindu epic Ramcharitramanas. At Tulsi ghat many cultural activities also take place and the most popular one is the Krishnalila that takes place in the month of Kartika (Oct/Nov).

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Assi Ghat – situated at the south of the city and therefore is less crowded. A popular place to stay, with many hotels, restaurants, and internet cafes.

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TO DO LIST IN VARANASI

 

  • A boat ride along the ganges river.

A boat ride along the ganges river is one of the must and best thing when visiting Varanasi. You have to negotiate the price a little bit because boats are high in demand and is the main tourist attraction, especially during at sunrise and sunset.

 

  • The area around malviya bridge

The bridge is double decker bridge, that carries rail track lower deck and road on the upper deck. Its interesting to watch all the different vehicles and train cross.

 

  • Varanasi from the above

There are many hotels with roof terraces – either with restaurant, or private balcony adjoining the room. We suggest to have any of the meal at one of these places to see Varanasi from the above.

 

  • Exploring the winding side streets.  

Leave the main road turn left or right and you will come to see some unusual place. Don’t worry about getting lost because sooner or later you’ll end up either in front of river or on a main street.

 

If you are the ardent religious traveller type, here’s a list of exemplary travel service from Raipur.

Go out, talk to the locals, speak their language (how much ever you know of it), taste the local cuisine and make the best out of your vacation!

Written by Manaswini Gupta

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