Located in the second largest state of the vast country India, Varanasi, also called as Banaras and Kashi, is one of the oldest cities of the country. Uttar Pradesh’s each city & town has its own dialect, culture and lifestyle.
Banaras is a unique township on the banks of holy river Ganga, full of temples, and other religious spots alongwith numerous inherited arts & crafts.
This city has a deep rooted culture that is primarily influenced with religion. The resn is simple – its history. While the city finds a pivotal place in the Buddhist scriptures, the longest mythological epic of Mahabharata also mentions it at several places.
The city has several names with various significances – In Pali language Varanasi was called Banarasi hence it got the name `Banaras`; `Kashi` means the city of spiritual light; (Kashi is the place where Hindu Lord Shiva and Parvati stood when the time started ticking); Located on the land between the river Varuna and Assi makes the name Varanasi.
The city attracts crores of pilgrims, as it is attached to the river Ganges.
Banaras is a peaceful and serene land where the Hindu’s believe that one’s soul gets Moksha that means liberation of the soul. Its probably the only land where the people pray for death but the one that’s peaceful & painless.
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. The refreshing dip in the Ganges with the splashing of water along the ghats (river banks) in Varanasi discovery and experience takes to the ultimate bliss.
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 that 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.
Major Tourist Attractions
The Ghats Of Varanasi
The bathing ghats that is the river banks 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 prayers to the rising Sun is still maintained.
St. Mary`s Church
Situated in the cantonment area of Banaras, the St. Mary`s Church has a low tower, spire and projecting portico. Instead of windows tile, church has louvered doors to the sides and hooded ventilation slots beneath the cornice.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple / Gyanvapi Mosque
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is popularly known as the Golden Temple due the gold plating done on its 15.5 meter 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.
Bharat Mata Temple
Just one kilometer from the Varanasi station, this temple is dedicated to Mother India. The temple is built in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth which was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt. IT was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936 so that the citizens could respect Mother India in statue form. The statute is built in marble. The statue is a replica of undivided India in three dimension that has the mountains, plains and oceans in right proportion.
Tulsi Manas Temple
Dedicated to Lord Rama, it believed to have been built in the place where Goswami Tulsidas composed the epic Ramacharitramanas or the Ramayana and provides a detailed description of the history and deeds of Lord Rama. It was constructed by a philanthropist family in 1964.
Built in the 8th century, in Nagara Style, the top of this temple formed of many small spires that are built one on top of the other.
Also called the Kathwala Temple, it was built by the King of Nepal Lalita ghat in a very Nepali style. The temple’s magnificent woodwork is unique. It was done by Nepali craftsmen on a special wood brought in from Nepal itself. The speciality of this wood is that termites do not eat this wood.
Bharat Kala Museum
With a very rich collection of precious and rare historical artifacts, statues, pictures, paintings and manuscripts, this is a small yet very well maintained museum giving an overview of the ancient city of Varanasi. It is built in the Kashi Hindu University.
Ram Nagar Durg
2 kms from the Kashi Hindu University, across the Ganges, this ancestral house built by the former rulers of Kashi in the fort has an unmatched museum that displays the royalty of the lost kingdom.
On the Ramnagar Pandav road is a beautiful Durga temple with its delicate and intricate stone carvings, worth seeing.
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 Sunderlal Medical center has all the modern facilities of medical field is also located in the university campus.
The university also has the huge Vishwanath Temple that was built and maintained by the Birla family.
Nandeshwari Kothi, designed by James Prinsep is an early 19th century structure.
The ruler of Jaisingh 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 that can match any modern instrument.
Chunar (40 kms from Varanasi)
Ancient times Chunargarh, now known as of Chunar has its mention in the classic Hindi novel Chandrakanta, written by Babu Devakinandan Khatri. Along one of the meanders of Ganges, where the Kaimur Hills are taking a North face, are built the imposing fort of Chunar.
Sarnath (10 kms from Varanasi)
It is one of the richest place to have antiques since the Ashoka period to the 12th century.It is also believed that Lord Buddha after enlightenment gave his first sermon here or as the Buddhist say set the wheel of dharma or law rolling.
Jaunpur (65 kms from Varanasi)
In 1360, Feroz Shah built this town to guard the eastern side of his Delhi sultanate. Jaunpur is bisected with the river Gomti and the two sides are connected with the massive Akbari Bridge. Designed by an Afghan, built in the 16th century, the fifteen stone arches of the bridge have withstood severe earthquakes and floods. On the southern end of the bridge are the sculptures of a lion tussling with an elephant. Other places to visit in Jaunpur are Sheetla Chowkia Dham, Yamdagni Ashram, Atla Mosque and Char Anguli ki Masjid.
Vindhyachal (90 kms from Varanasi)
It is a major Shaktipeeth (the abode of Goddess of Power Durga). The temples of Vindhyavasini Devi, Asthbhuja and Kalikhoh are a must visit here.
Kaushambi (185 kms from Varanasi)
Also mentioned in the epic of Mahabharata, as a place where the Pandav brothers lived, this place has developed as a major center for Buddhism. Lord Buddha visited this place many times and gave sermons after his enlightenment in 6th and 9th century. The ruins of an Old Fort reveal the saga of the town’s antiquity.
Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary
Established in 1997, it is a small sanctuary sprawling over an area of 78 sq. kms, located on Naugarh and Vijaigarh hillocks in Vindhya forest range, in Chandauli district.
Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary
Located on the Uttar Pradesh – Bihar border, it is spread over an area of 500 sq kms.
How to get there
Varanasi has its own airport that is 22 Kms from the city. The Babatpur airport connects with newly build elevated road Varanasi with all the major cities in India.
The nearby Mughal Sarai [Deen Dayal Upadhyaya ] railway Junction is one of the major railway junction in the region with almost all the trains from the East, North East and some trains for South and Western region crossing the station. Varanasi is on the national highway #2 from Calcutta to Delhi.
Shopping in Varanasi
Varanasi or Banaras, since ages has been famous for the handicraft items. The delicate and intricate work on the sarees, carpets, wooden works are unmatched. The famous Banarasi Silk Sarees and Brocades are every women`s dream.
The local silk weavers produce the silk which are in demand not only in India but across the world these silk items are in great demand. The Bhadohi carpets can match the delicacy of weaving in any part of the world. Banaras has been famous for the `Gharanas` in the Classical Music and Singing. These styles of singing and music have been amply supported by the musical instruments which are manufactured in Varanasi.
The other arts include Brassware, Copperware, Ivoryware, Stone Inlay Work, Glass Beads & Bangles, Wood & Clay Toys, Zari Work & Exquisite Gold Jewellery.
The main shopping areas of the city are the City chowk, Godoulia, Vishwanath Lane, Gyan Vapi, Thatheri Baazar, Dasashvamedh, durgakund, manduwadih, rathyatra, lanka, mahnoorganj, aashapur, ramnagar, kakarmatta Goldhar and Lahurabir.
Climate in Varanasi
Varanasi has a extreme type of climate. Located besides the Ganges Varanasi can be difficult place to visit during the summers. Summers are very hot and temperatures shoot upto 46 degrees and winter can be cold with mercury dipping down to 5 degrees. This place can be a really bad during the rainy seasons and is advisable not to visit Varanasi during monsoons. The best season to visit Varanasi is during September to March.