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“The city illuminates truth and reveals reality. It does not bring new wonders into the scope of vision, but enables one to see what is already there. Where the eternal light intersects the Earth, it is known as Kashi”. The synopsis of the city put forward beautifully, one may call it varanasi, banaras and kashi the city has a calling for each. What drove me to the city is my deep rooted sync with Lord Shiva or Kashi vishwanath as one may call it.
It is one of the seven sacred spots for the Hindus.
Varanasi is located in the south eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh well connected by rail, air road to all the major cities of the country. The city is set on the bank of the river Ganga which the holiest river for the Hindu community. From the capital of the country Delhi, it is 820 Km via NH 19 which is approximately a 13 hour drive. If one is travelling from any other city, the information is readily available on the website. The best time to visit the mystical city is from November to February, during the winter season wherein one may walk around the city without feeling exhausted. The average temperature during winter is 5 degree Celsius.
Varanasi, is undoubtedly inhabits the oldest civilization of the world. Varanasi exhibits a unique combination of Spirituality, Art and its world famous Ghats. It is believed to be the centre to attain Moksh or Salvation. It is this combination that has a magnetic pull for tourist both domestic and International. To put in a nut shell one can experience the serenity of river Ganga, the chanting of Mantras, innumerable temples, the ghats and the Ashrams not to mention the fragrance of various incenses. Its civilization dates back to 2000 BCE and has been continuously inhabited since then.
It was famous for the production of perfumes, Ivory works, sculpture and fabrics. The banarasi silk still rules the heart of every Indian woman and equally captivates the international tourist.
Varanasi has a significant importance to Hindus because it is believed that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati stood when time started ticking for the first time. Kashi Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Along with Kashi Vishwanath temple there are other temples such as Durga Temple, Sankatmochan Temple, and Bharat Mata Temple which is dedicated to Bharat Mata. It has a relief map of India carved in Marble. The famous Ramcharitramanas was composed by Goswami Tulsidas in Varanasi. The soil is blessed with feet of Buddha who gave lecture on the first turning of the Wheel of Dharma during 528 BCE.
During the varanasi tour here are a few things you can consider. stroll on the ghats, witness a cremation, take a boat ride at sunrise along the holy Ganga. sunrise and sunset aarti, ramnagar fort and meuseum, banaras university, sarnath trip.
As we all know varanasi is famous for the ghats, simply by walking alongside one will get a glimpse of all the religious activities. Dashashwamedh ghat is the main and the busiest ghat. Assi ghat and Kedar ghat are also equally intresting.
Cremation by burning the body is an ritual performed by the hindus and yes it is the most intruiging part of the tour to varanasi. The pyre burns almost 24 by 7 at manikarnika ghat and harishchandra ghat. Witnessing a burning body aquaints you to the basic fact that after death body is reduced to ash hence learn to be humble and lead a simple yet inspirational life. Burning of body is scientifically the most hygienic way to dispose the body.
Nothing is more enchanting than watching the sunrise while taking a boat ride in the holy river. The boat ride cost nothing more than 150-200 (INR) and ensure to bargain as they will quote a very high price. While taking a ride one will notice the ritual of life and death being performed on the same ghat. You will also see small shrines which can a quite a sight.
EXPLORE TOURIST PLACES OF VARANASI
Sunrise and Sunset Aarti: There is a small aarti which is performed at the sunrise on the banks of the Ganga. Similar aarti is performed in the evening and it is a mesmerizing sight. One can see huge crowd gathered on the banks with people from all walks of life gathering for this ritual with ardent faith. The aarti is performed by the pundits in such a fashion that their movements are synchronised with each other. The lamp used to perform the aarti is seven layered and quite big. One must attend the ganga aarti and soak in the experience.
Ramnagar Fort: As the name suggest it was ancestral home to the Maharaja of Benaras which was originally built in the 17th Century. Though the fort is not maintained and is crumbling to pieces it offers a stunning view of the ghats over the sunset.
Banaras University: It is one of the oldest University across the world and it dates back to 1916, it had a excellent academic record. There is an museum by the name of Bharat Kala Bhavan which has good collection of paintings, manuscripts.
Sarnath: As mentioned earlier Varanasi was also a place where Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightment. It is one of the 4 important sites on Buddhist circuit.
Away from the hustle bustle of the city this place offers a breath of fresh air with the ruins of stupas, temples and monasteries. Dhamekh stupa and monastery is the place where Buddha gave his first sermon, there is also large Chaukhandi Stupa from the 5th century where Buddha met his first disciples which was later topped by a large Mughal tower, Mulgandha Kuti Vihar is the place where the Buddha’s first sermon is chanted daily at sunset.
Apart from this one can also visit the Akhada’s the Bull shop, arrange a meeting with the Facebook baba, Kashi Labh Mukti Bhavan, Saint Ravidas temple and Aghori Ashram.
FAAMOUS FOOD PLACES IN VARANASI
The tour of varanasi is incomplete without the savouring the delicaies and they will satiate your taste buds for sure !!.
The famous Kachori Sabzi which is available at the Ram Bhandar, Thateri Bazaar, Kachori Gali.
The Choora Matar, is available at Gopal Mandir Gali.
Dahi chutney Gol Gappe savor it at Deena Chaat Bhandar and Gol Ganj.
Bhatti Chokka available at Puran Das Road. The list is endess and the taste still titillates my taste bud!!! Kidding. But truly it is a delight for foodies and I can write a different different blog all together regarding the various dishes one can enjoy.
SHOPPPING IN VARANASI
The holy water of Ganga (Ganga Jal): The Ganga Jal is of utmost importance during the rituals for the Hindus. The belief that one can get rid of all the sins has given the water a supreme importance.
Banarasi Silks: One of the most adorned collection of an Indian women are Banarasi Silk, be it in the form of saree or dress material. It equally attracts the international tourist as well. I recommend you to go to peeli kothi or Thateri Bazaar area for the best prices at affordable rates.
Crystal and Stone Shivlinga: They come in various sizes and in crystal or stone. Shiva is one of the panchayatan gods need to be placed in every Indian house. Gulabi Minakari, is an art exclusive to the crafts men of Varanasi. They can be found near Gaighat various small souvenir can be purchased from here.
Other items are Wooden toys, Rudrasha Mala, Flutes, Indic Literatures, Bangles and other accessories. Hand Knotted carpets, Sweets etc.
Its my genuine attempt to capture the glory of Varansi in this blog however, I left Varanasi with deep reverence towards Lord Shiva and Hindu culture.
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