Varanasi, is set along the banks of the holy River Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradesh is one of the oldest cities of the country. Also, it is ranked among one of the most highly revered pilgrimage destinations of the country. Hustle and bustle of a thriving life never comes to a halt in Varanasi and the best manifestation of this may be seen on the colossal ghats of Varanasi which can be experienced through a Varanasi tour packages.
The Ghats and Ganges in fact make an inseparable part of the city’s identity. Not only this, music and paan are another two attributes that have catapulted Varanasi to immense fame countrywide and worldwide. For Hindus, Varanasi is the land of Moksha. According to common Hindu belief any soul that departs from body on the land of Varanasi will definitely meet with the much awaited ‘Moksha’ or salvation.
The ashes of the deceased if immersed on the Ganges of Varanasi can absolve all the sins of the deceased, paving the path to Moksha or salvation. Every evening the ghats of Varanasi get gorgeously illuminated during thousands of torches that go ablaze and aloft. Hence, the city remains forever crowded. There are numerous places to visit in Varanasi and if you want to get those details read on:
Manikarnika Ghat is the famous burning ghat of Varanasi. At the Manikarnika ghat, a funeral pyre is burning all the time. One pyre gets done and another pyre goes ablaze on this ghat. This is where you can see life in all its elemental nudity. The sight of dead bodies arriving every now and then and then turning to ashes in just no time introduces you to life’s eternal truth which William Shakespeare had described most philosophically in the lines, ‘Golden lads and girls all must/As chimney sweepers come to dust’
Sarnath deviates from the mainstream Hinduism of Varanasi in being one of the most vital Buddhist religious centers in UP and in the whole of India too. Sarnath actually has epic importance in the history of Indian religions due to the fact that Lord Buddha had chosen Sarnath as an ideal place to deliver his first sermon. Sarnath is a part of the slumberous village of Singhpur and is nearly 13kms from Varanasi. Chaukhandi stupa, Dhammek stupa, Mulagandha kuti vihar, famous Lions of Sarnath engraved on Ashokan pillar are some of the major attractions of Sarnath. You have the option of exploring this historically and religiously significant place in the course of a half day trip from Varanasi.
Ramnagar fort dates back to 1750 AD and is the former royal residence of the king of Varanasi. This red sandstone fort houses an astronomical marvel; i.e. the clock on the palace wall that documents every detail pertaining to day, week, month, year plus
Dashashwamedh ghat is one of the oldest and important ghats of Varanasi. According to historical records, this ghat was built during the Maratha rule by Peshwa Baji Rao I; i.e. around 1740 and was rebuilt by Queen of Indore, Ahilya Bai Holkar around 1774. There are also many mythical tales associated with this ghat. One such tale tells that lord Bhramha had undertaken the Ashwamedha yagna on this ghat offering 10 sacrificial horses to fire. In the evening time when priests perform the Ganga aarti on this ghat with lit up torches, crowds pour in large numbers to visualize the grand spectacle that purges both mind and soul.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The Kashi Vishwanath temple is a lord Shiva shrine and is one of the most notable places to visit in Varanasi. It is one of the 12 much revered Jyotirlingams of Lord Shiva. The history of this temple dates back to 3500 years and the temple is a quadrangle with several other temples dotting its surrounding area. Once upon a time, this temple had golden domes and spires which is why it is also often referred to as golden temple.
Tulsi Manas Temple
Tulsi manas temple stands at the very site where great poet Tulsidas had composed epic Ramayana in Hindi language’s Awadhi dialect. Birla family had funded the construction of this temple which was brought to life in the year 1964 and is built out of pristine white marble. Inscriptions and images from Ramcharitamanas adorn the walls of this temple. The serene ambiance of the temple inspires deeper thoughts in the minds of the visitors.
Durga Temple is a Devi temple in Varanasi constructed by a queen from Bengal. According to myths the enshrined deity of the temple is a self manifested one and was not installed by any human. The temple in brilliant red ochre showcases the Nagara architectural style. Huge monkey population throngs the temple most of the time which is why it is also popularly known as Monkey temple.
Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum
Inside the campus of Banaras Hindu University lies the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum. The museum upholds the country’s rich past and heritage through its exhibits that are no less than a treasure trove for any passionate history buff. Collection ranges from ancient manuscripts, sculptures, paintings, ancient, royal costumes, Mughal miniatures and the like. The museum is segregated into various galleries such as Nicholas Roerich Gallery, Archaeological gallery, Decorative art gallery, Mahamana malviya gallery, Chhavi gallery, Nidhi gallery, Sculpture gallery.
St Mary’s Church
Varanasi though dominated by the flavor of Hinduism is tolerant to many other religions too. St Mary’s Church bears a clear testimony to the above fact. The uniqueness of its projecting portico, hooded ventilation, louvered doors mark the beauty of this old Varanasi church.
Annapurna Devi Mandir
The Annapurna Devi Mandir is located in vicinity to Kashi Vishwanath Temple and is dedicated to Goddess Annapurna; the giver of food. Peshwa Bajirao I had set up this temple around 1729AD. The temple enshrines image of goddess Annapurna and two icons; one made of brass and another made of gold. Annakut festival is one of the most famous festivals associated with the temple.