Location: National Highway No. 2 On Delhi-Calcutta
Route (Uttar Pradesh)
Also Known As: Kashi
Main Attraction: The Ghats,
Banaras Hindu University
Best Season: September-March
or Banaras is one of the oldest cities of India. This city
has found place in the Buddhist scriptures as well the
epic of Mahabharata.
In Pali language Varanasi
was called Banarasi hence it got the name 'Banaras'.
Varanasi is also called 'Kashi' or the city of spiritual
light. Kashi is the place where Shiva and Parvati stood
when the "time started ticking".
This ancient city of India
is located on holiest river of India--Ganga. This relation
is unique and has attracted thousands of pilgrims. One
theory also goes that Varanasi is located on the land
between the river Varuna and Assi hence the name Varanasi.
This town also has its
place in history with many events and incidents being
related with it. From time immemorial Varanasi has been
the center of education, religion, art and culture.
For every visitor Varanasi
has different experiences to offer. The shimmering red and
golden water of the Ganges when rays of dawn falls on
them, the high banks, the temples, the Ashrams, the
pavilions all are an experience in themselves.
Chanting of Mantras, the
hymns along with the fragrance of incense in fills the air
with mysticism which entrails every person.
Not only for its temples,
Ghats and Ganges Banaras has produced many exponents of
art, music, literature and crafts. These people were not
different from others but it was the tradition of Banaras
which moulded them in the way they came out to be.
Why only the luminaries,
Varanasi has excelled in the art of silk weaving. The
Banarasi silk sarees and brocades are cherished as
collector's items across the world.
As a eternal city with rich
and vibrant past, it has no exquisitely carved palaces, no
impregnable fort no architectural splendour but still the
city has an inherent charm of its own.
The ghats dotted with
temples, the maze of alleys along the ghats, what ever
Varanasi has is enough to attract the visitor again and
again. The city which did not die even after being
plundered many times is in a true sense a fascinating area
to wander around.
The Ghats Of Varanasi:
In this ancient city of pilgrimage, the bathing ghats
are main attraction. People flock here in large numbers
every day to take bath and worship in the temples built
beside the river bank. Centuries old tradition to offer
puja to the rising sun is still maintained.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple / Gyanvapi Mosque: This temple
is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is popularly known as the
golden Temple due the Gold plating done on its 15.5 metre
high spire. One tonne of gold donated by Maharaja Ranjit
Singh has been used in the gold plating of the spire. The
temple was destroyed in the various invasions and was
rebuilt in 1776 by Rani Ahilyabai of Indore.
St. Mary's Church:
Situated in the cantonment area of Banaras (Varanasi) the
St. Mary's Church has a low tower and spire. Instead of windows tile, church has louvred doors
to the sides and hooded ventilation slots beneath the
Durga Temple: Built
in the 8th century, the Durga temple is one of the most
important temples in Varanasi. This temple is built in
Nagara Style. The shikhara of the temple is formed by many
small spires which are built one on top of the other.
Bharat Mata Temple:
This temple is dedicated to Mother India. Just one
kilometer from the Varanasi station. The temple is built
in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth which was built by
Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta. This temple was inaugurated by
Mahatma Gandhi in 1936 so that the citizens could respect
Mother India in statue form. The statute is built of
marble. The statue is a replica of undivided India in
three dimension which has the mountains, plains and oceans
in right proportion.
Tulsi Manas Temple:
This temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. The temple is built
in the place where Goswami Tulsidas composed the epic 'Ramacharitramanas'
which provides us with detailed description of the history
and deeds of Lord Rama. Tulsi Manas Temple was constructed
by a philanthropist family in 1964.
Nepali Temple: The
King of Nepal had built this temple on Lalita ghat in
Nepali style. The Nepali temple is also called the 'Kathwala
temple'. The temple has some magnificent woodwork. Tourist
from all over the world come just to see this temple which
has no comparison with any other temple in India.
The workers who carved this
temple out were brought from Nepal. The wood used in the
temple is also found in Nepal. The speciality of this wood
is that termites do not eat this wood.
Ram Nagar Durg: 2 kms from the Kashi Hindu university,
across the Ganges is located at the ancestral house in the
fort which was built by the former rulers of Kashi. In one
of the sections of the fort is the museum which displays
the royalty which was once part of the kingdom.
This museum gives an
insight into the grandeur which once prevailed in the
fort. On the Ramnagar Pandav road is a beautiful Durga
temple. This temple has very delicate and intricate
carving done on stone. These carvings are worth giving
Bharat Kala Museum:
The Kashi Hindu university has a museum which has a very
rich collection of precious and rare historical artifacts,
statues, pictures, paintings and manuscripts. This small
but very well maintained museum gives an overview of the
ancient city of Varanasi. Entry in the museum is free but
check out the timings.
Nandeshwar Kothi: Nandeshwar Kothi, designed by
James Prinsep is a typical building of the early 19th
century in Banaras.
Banaras Hindu University:
This is the largest and oldest university in north
India. Spread over an area of 2,000 acres, this great
place of education was established by Pt. Madan Mohan
Malaviya. Today the campus has faculties of Arts, Science,
Music, Sanskrit, Languages, Engineering, Statistics and
Medical to name a few of them.
The university also has the
huge Vishwanath temple which was built and maintained by
the Birla family. The Sunderlal Medical centre has all the
modern facilities of medical field is also located in the
Jantar Mantar: The
ruler of Jai Singh built an observatory in Varanasi in line
with those built in Delhi, Mathura, Ujjain and Jaipur
observatories. The Varanasi observatory has all the
instruments which were required to record the motion ,
speed and properties of various stars and planets and
other cosmic objects. The observatory was built in 1600
and still the instruments give the exact measurements
which can match any modern instrument
FAIRS & FESTIVALS
Ganga Festival: A
festive experience like none other awaits you at Ganga
Festival at Varanasi.
Celebrated in the month of November-December is the sacred
day, when the ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands
of brightly-lit earthern lamps.
Buddh Purnima: This
festival is celebrated with pomp and gaiety in Sarnath.
This day Lord Buddha was born. A large fair is held in
Sarnath and the relics of Buddha are taken out in a
procession for public viewing on this day. Buddh Purnima
is celebrated during the month of May.
Bharat Milap: Around
Dussehra a fair is held in Nati Imli which celebrates the
return of Lord Rama from 14 years of exile. His reunion
with his younger brother Bharat is celebrated as Bharat
milap. This festival is attended by the king of Kashi in
royal flavour. The festival is attended by at least a
million devotees. Held in the month of October / November.
The Ramlila: The
Ramlila of Ramagar is famous far and wide. The Ramlila is
based on the Ramcharitramanas by Tulsidas. The month ling
festival is usually held during October / November and it
sees the performance of many ancient rituals.
festival again is based on the Ramayana. The episode in
the epic where the sister of Ravana tries to influence
Lakshmana to marry her but instead Lakshman chops off her
nose. On hearing this Ravana vows revenge against the
brothers. This incidence in the epic is one of the reasons
why Sita was abducted by Ravana. The festival is held in
Chetganj with much fan fair.
Hanuman Jayanti: This
festival is celebrated to mark the birth of the monkey God
Hanuman . The five day long festivities are held at the
Sankat Mochan temple. During this festival many plays are
staged based on the Saraswati, Ram , Krishnalila and
Mahashivratri is celebrated throughout India, Varanasi has
some special charm in the celebration of the festival. During
the festival a procession is taken out from the Maha-Mritunjaya temple to Kashi Viswanath Temple.
The Dhrupad Mela:
In the month of March a five day long music festival is
organized on the Tulsi Ghats. during the five days
renowned artists from all over the country perform Dhrupad
here. This festival is one of the major tourist attraction
Panch Koshi Parikrama:
The procession has got the name because it passes
through five places. These five places are Kardmeshwar,
Bhimchandi, Rameshwar, Shivpur and Kapildhara. The
parikrama has special importance in the ancient parikramas
of India. The procession starts and ends at Manikarnika