Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world being around 5000 years old. Varanasi is believed to be the city of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. There are enough mythological stories attached to Varanasi and hence this is a very important place in the Indian religious sector. During the time of Buddha in the 6th century BCE, Varanasi was the capital of kingdom of Kashi. Prabhu Narayan Singh became the first Maharaja of Banaras, the newly created princely town. The last king of the state was Vibhuti Narayan Singh. Varanasi is called as the city of temples because it has large number of temples in the city dedicated to different Gods. This makes Varanasi an important pilgrimage town in India. Varanasi is also a home to holy river Ganga and its 84 ghats. The ghats in Varanasi are prime tourist attractions. The modern scholars and the historians however believe that the city was founded 3000 years ago. Varanasi, with its array of shrines and bathing ghats sprawling along the Ganges for about 4 miles, is cultural capital of India. It was at nearby Sarnath that Buddha delivered his first sermon; the vestiges of monasteries and of the two ‘stupas’ create a lasting impression. The museum, in the style of a Buddhist monastery, contains some superb specimens of ancient art.
Some of the legends related to the city are Saint Kabir Das who was born in Lahar Tara, Varanasi. Famous saint Goswami Tulsi Das resided in Varanasi and wrote Shri Ram Charit Manas, an epic describing the life of Lord Rama. Shri Ram Charit Manas has been considered by the Hindus in north India as beckon of moral values. Other main legends of the city are Munshi Prem Chanda, Madan Mohan Malaviya, and Saint Ravidas. Prabhu Narayan Singh and Vibhuti Narayan Singh can also be said as the legends of the city as they were the first and the last king here.
Westerners are sometimes baffled by Benares. They feel nonplussed and disconcerted by such a traffic of gods and goddesses and, what’s more, find it all a trifle smelly. They don’t realize that Hinduism is a very ancient and highly sophisticated cosmology full of subtleties and unsuspected depths. Patron of Oriental art and literature for over two thousand years, it is the mouthpiece of great basic truths. These gods and goddesses that worry Western minds are ancient, primitive symbols of Nature’s manifestations; they became — as they are now — facets of that cut diamond of Infinite Godhead. Hindus believe all human souls form part of one Universal Reality. Hence their tolerance and gentleness, the essence of the Hindu creed.
Tourist Places in Varanasi: Varanasi is one of the most sacred places in India. For the Hindus and Buddhists, Varanasi is a major pilgrim spot. There are enough temples in Varanasi along with holiest river Ganga with the ghats. There is a strong belief in the Hindus that one who takes bath in the holy river Ganga gets from all the sins of his life and gets free from all his negative gestures. It is also strongly believed that if a person comes to Banaras during his time for the last rites then he is straight away taken to heaven. He is free from all the life and the birth cycle. People who are in the soil of Banaras when he is about to die then also he gets from the birth death life cycle. All these has made Varanasi a very promise tourist place. The old lanes of the city, the dilapidated buildings, the culture, the rituals, and the life at this city attract different kinds of travellers from all across the world. Here are some of the top places to visit in Varanasi.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple – The most popular temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. Vishwanatha Temple is situated in the heart of the city. Narrow streets lead up to it, full of little shops always crammed with people. Here you will see men and women making their flower offerings to the lingam in the inner shrine. The present temple built on the site of the original shrine destroyed twice by the Muslims, is of recent origin; its spire is covered with gold plating. This is the most important place in the city and has been destroyed so many times over the time. Aurangzeb was the last one to destroy it but it is the power of God that the temple still exists strong.
Dashashwamedh Ghat – The most important ghat on the river Ganga is Dashashwamedh ghat. It is this ghat where Lord Brahma performed the Dashashwamedha sacrifice. A lot of daily religious rituals are carried out here and is visited by all the tourists.
Manikarnika Ghat – This is one of the most sacred ghats on the river Ganga. It is believed to be the point of getaway to the next life. All the cremation functions of a dead person are performed here. It is believed strongly that if the last rites and the crematory functions are performed here then that person goes to heaven and gets free from all the earthly sins.
Assi Ghat – A large Shiva lingam is placed under the peepul tree here which makes the tourists and the devotees come here in large numbers. The Assi ghat is located in the confluence of river Assi and Ganga and is so beautiful to be at.
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple – Another beautiful and important temple to be at is the Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple. It is situated near the river Assi. The temple is dedicated to Lord Rama and Lord Shiva.
Nepali Temple – Nepali temple is one of the oldest in the cities. The temple is built in a Nepali style and has a Lord Shiva statue inside it. The king of Nepal has established this temple with an image of Lord Pashupatinath.
Bharat Kala Bhawan – This Museum of Indian Arts and Archaeology, founded by Rai Krishnadas in 1920 AD, is now attached to the Benares Hindu University and housed in a newly constructed building. Besides gold and other coins of the Gupta period, the archaeological exhibits and rare specimens of arts, crafts and sculpture, it has a representative collection of Indian pictorial art.
Sarnath Museum – It is an archaeological site museum six miles north of Varanasi. It was started in 1904 and the present Buddhist monastery type building was ready in 1908 to house the antiquities recovered at the site. The collections date from the 3rd century B.C. to the time of destruction in the 12th century A.D., and consist of images, stucco figures, has reliefs, inscriptions, domestic objects of stone and terracotta, pottery and architectural pieces belonging to the Maurya, Shunga. Andhra, Kushan, Gupta and medieval periods of Indian history. Here are preserved the famous Lion Capital of Asoka adopted as the crest of the Republic of India, and the statue of the preaching Buddha of the Gupta period, besides other fine Images of the Mathura School.
Benares Hindu University – One should not leave the holy city of Varanasi without visiting its Hindu University set in a large park. Each important faculty has its own building. Girls and boys attend lectures together but don’t mix much. In the middle of the park, the library contains ancient Vedic books of inestimable value. The medical faculty is probably the most interesting: here the indigenous Vedic healing methods (known as Ayurvedic medicine) are taught side by side with Western medical science.
Alamgir Mosque – Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor, built this fort during his reign in the 17th century. It was once a Shiva temple and he demolished it to built this mosque.
Famous Fairs – Festivals – Events – Various festivals are observed in Varanasi. Colorful fairs are highly popular among the masses. Several cultural events like Ganga Aarti & Subah e Banaras are organized daily. Following are very famous festivals in Varanasi …………
Maha Shivratri – Maha Shivratri is a very important festival that is celebrated in Varanasi. With so many Shiva temples in the city and the city being birth place of Lord Shiva himself, this is a big festival to be a part of here. Maha Shivratri is the marriage day of Lord Shiva.
Ganga Mahotsav – The locals believe that the holy river Ganga is the provider of food to the people and hence for her this festival is celebrated for 5 days every year. It is a fun dance and music show.
Chhath Puja – One of the biggest and a very important Hindu festival is the Chhath Puja. It is a very beautiful festival that is celebrated on the Ganga river and its ghats in Varanasi. The celebrations of this festival in the city us next level grand.
Bharat Milap – During the months of October and November, the Bharat Milap festival is held with amazing response from the devotees. Bharat Milap is the event from the epic Ramayana when Bharat ji came to meet Lord Ram, Laxman, and Goddess Sita during their exile period in Chitrakoot.
Shopping in Varanasi – Here is a region where you can’t afford to say “no”. The main shopping bargains are, of course, the exquisite Benares silks, brocades and sarees, Lucknow’s gold and silver and white embroidery, table covers and silverware and Mirzapur’s carpets. Brassware and lacquered toys complete the list.
Importance of Varanasi in Indian Tourism – Varanasi plays an important role in Indian tourism. Kashi is a vital tourism destination in India from the pilgrimage side. There is no particular season and reason why people visit Banaras. The hippies from all across the globe visit the place for its unique experiences.
4 Hours – Morning Boat Ride on The Ganges in Varanasi
4 Hours – Ganga Aarti in Varanasi on Dashashwamedh Ghat
4 Hours – Varanasi Ghats Tour
5 Hours – Varanasi Heritage Walk & Evening Ganga Aarti with Dinner
1 Day – Varanasi Temples Tour
1 Day – Full Day Varanasi Tour
2 Days – Varanasi Dev Diwali Tour
3 Days – Varanasi Tour
8 Days – Golden Triangle with Varanasi Tour