Sight seeing at Varanasi

One of the world’s oldest living cities, Varanasi or Benaras is "older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend” as Mark Twain had rightly remarked. Situated on the western banks of the holy River Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, Varanasi is full of traditions and Hindu mythologies. It is believed that the mighty Ganges River possesses miraculous powers to wash away the sins of mortals.

What to see in varanasi
Among the main tourist places in Varanasi are the numerous Hindu temples, ashrams and ghats, several Buddhist Stupas and Jain temples. The Ganga Ghats are the main center of rituals and religious activities in Varanasi or Benaras. The prominent Hindu temples worth visit while on Varanasi tour packages include the Durga temple, Sankat Mochan temple, Vishwanath temple, Tulsi Manas temple and Bharat Mata temple
This is the refuse of the traditional Hindu widows in their old age.  Countless lanes and bi lanes, busy traffic is what Varansai in one sentence. There are as many lanes as the people and shops and Bulls. Kashi's lanes are known as “labyrinth of the east”. The river Ganges is horribly polluted ,yet the bathing ghats invoke the feeling of a tradition that is as old as the Vedas. The chants during a sunrise change the whole atmosphere even today. The evening 7 pm arati is still now a spectacle. You should not miss the Sunrise at the Dasaswamedh ghat.

The Viswanath Temple is a holy pilgrim place to the Hindus. Ganga or the river Ganges here is one of the holiest of all the holy places according to Hindu Purana. Drinking a palmful of the water of Ganga is believed to deliver the effects of an Aswamedha Yajna. Pilgrims, naturally enough, assemble here in great numbers. Varanasi is one of the fifty one Sati Pithas. According to Purana, the earring of Sati fell in Manikarnika Ghat.

Benaras Hindu University has a world-wide reputation. Sarnath and Ramnagar are two major attractions nearby. Buddhism as a religion developed and flourished in Sarnath which is the part of the Rajgir—Mathura tourist circuit. Varanasi has its own great place in the tourism map of India. It attracts a large number of tourists from across the world. Yahan banta hai Rasa (Here art is made)—that is why Benaras or Bane- ras. But the name was officially changed into Varanasi on May 24, 1956. The town stretches from Raj Ghat (near the bridge) to Asi Ghat (Hindu University) and Varanasi Junction is the new township.

Gyan Bhapi, the well of knowledge is a bit north, between the temple and the mosque. The legend is, this well was dug out by a fierce Ishan with his trident. He had bathed Vishwanath in one thousand pitchers of water that came from the well. A second opinion says that Mukunda Brahmachari came to Kashi and hit a blow in the earth to get the holy water for worshipping Vishwanath. Gnyan Bhapi was a secret shelter for Vishwanath when Kalapahar or Kalachand Roy with 41 conservative Brahmin converted into Islam, arrived here to destroy the temple.

Some believe, people used to commit suicide in the water for emancipation. The temple of Gyan Bhapi was built by Baijabai, the queen of Gwalior in 1830.

Annapurna Temple, built by Peshoa Baji rao I in 1725, is in the same lane, opposite Vishwanath Temple. The spectacular Annakuta festival takes place on the first lunar day of the bright fortnight in the month of Kartick. The golden idol of the goddess is open to public viewing during the festival.
Other temples of Varanasi: 
There are more than 1000 temples in Varanasi. Here are few important ones.

Durga Temple, 8 km south at Asi, was built by Rani Bhabani of Bengal in the 18th century. This temple has a Nagara architecture and has a saffron idol of goddess Durga in it. The five crests of the temple signify the five basic elements converging in Brahma. The temple is also known as the Monkey Temple for a huge crowd of monkeys in the campus. People come for a holy dip in the pond of the temple.

Tulsi Manas Temple, built in 1964 in the memory of Tulsidas, the creator of Ramcharit Manas, is another attraction. The temple has three main deities— Ram, Lakshman and Sita. They are flanked by Lakshmi. Narayan, Annapurna and Vishwanath. Tulsidas lived in this place and this is where he wrote his great epic Ramcharit Manas. He died here in 1623. The Hindi couplets of Ramayana in eight volumes have been inscribed on white marble. Puppet shows of Ramayana are held on the first floor. Tulsi ghat, the exact location where Tulsidas believed to have composed his epic, is nearby. The temple is open to all during 5 am to 12 pm and 3 pm to 12 am.

Bharatmata Temple, at Vidyapith Road south of Cantonment Station, was built by Siba Prasad Gupta and Durgaprasad Kshetri. The temple has its own unique charm. It was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936. A relief map of India, instead of gods, is carved on the white marble wall.

The Town Hall near Kotwali Police Station was built in 1845. Nearby is Vairabnath Temple or the abode of Kalavairab, built in 1825 by Bajirao II. Close to it are Dandapani Temple and Kamrup. The common belief is, those who cannot see the shadows of their faces in the water of the well are destined to die an untimely death. There are other idols—Ganesha, Annapurna, Sukreswara, Shanaishchara. People believe that one has to report about one's return journey at Ganesh Temple. The same ritual is practiced before Sakshi Gopala at Puri. The Temple of Sankatmochan is near the Venaras Hindu University. Hanuman Temple also is quite close to it.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing place indeed! I can spend hours in the ghats of Ganges. Thanks for sharing details.
    Varanashi - The home to Kashi Viswanath