In the words of Neem Karoli Baba, “Where all action is prayer. All trees are desire-fulfilling. All water is the Ganga and all land is Varanasi.”
The oldest city of the world, Varanasi, is also known as Benares and Kashi is one of the holiest cities of India. Considered to be the city of Moksha, this 3000 year old city is adobe of Lord Shiva and Parviti and so it is believed that the sins of a person he did in his lifetime will be washed away. And the person would get liberation from the cycle of birth and re-birth. He would receive an ultimate Moksha.
The ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus, Varanasi is one of the seven holist cities of and one of the Shakti Pethas and one of the twelve (12) Jyotir Lingas. The words of Mark Twain describes Varanasi as - “Benares is older than history, older than traditions, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”
The utmost holiest river Ganga seemed to have its origin here from the tresses of Lord Shiva in Varanasi. Sarnath is the location in Kashi that is known for the place where Buddha preached his first sermon post his Enlightment. Being the symbol of Hindu renaissance, knowledge, philosophy, culture, devotion of Gods, Indian art and crafts, Varanasi’ culture has been flourished with past many centuries. Believed to be the birth place of Parsvanath, the twenty-third Tirthankar, and Kashi is also a famous pilgrimage center for Jains.
Also known as the City of Temples, the mesmerizing architectures of the temples of Varanasi are very much fascinating for the travelers and the art lovers. Being a great center of learning and education, Varanasi has always been associated with the encouragement of the spiritualism, mysticism, Sanskrit, yoga and Hindi Language. The famous and well known authors and poets such as the ever famous novelist, Prem Chand and Tulsi Das who wrote the Ram Charit Manas are very well promoted here. Being the Culture Capital of India, the history of Varanasi is never ending.
Apart from just being the holy city, Varanasi is also a famous trade and commercial hub. The finest silk, gold and silver brocades can be found every easily.
The suggested time period to uncover Varanasi is September to May. While its recommended not to travel in Varanasi in the monsoon season because of the heavy flow of water in river Ganga.
A city known for its magical evenings, the rituals soaked evening Ganges Aarti, the several houses of worship, the bustling markets, the delicious local street food etc gives you all the reason to stay quite for sometime in this enchanting city of Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi is equipped with every kind of places of stay; economy hotels, 3 to 5 stars rated hotel, luxury hotels, Heritage hotels, ashrams, Homestays etc. You can choose on any place of your choice and comfort; do make sure to enjoy a boat ride in the holy river Ganges.
The Ganges city is always ready with its arms open wide to welcome each and every person, who makes a move towards it. One can spend as many days as he or she wishes to; Varanasi is instilled with the air of belonging, extremely inviting and soulful. Two days are sufficient to spend in the holy city of Varanasi; here are the names of some major attractions – Dashashwamedh Ghat| Kashi Vishwanath Temple| Manikarnika Ghat| Dhamek Stupa| Sarnath Museum| Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple etc. Varanasi is a must-visit city, in case if you are planning on a trip to the northern zone of India, then do prefer on making Varanasi a part of your trip.
The official languages of Varanasi are Hindi, Urdu and English; the Native dialects are Bhojpuri and Awadhi [dialects of the Hindi-Urdu].
The city of Varanasi witnesses the presence of people belonging to the various parts of the world throughout the year.
Shopping is always fun but shopping in a whole new destination is even exciting and experimental in behaviour too. It’s good to go prepared when it comes to buying a few things from the destinations chosen by you for exploring. Even when you have a list of where to go and what to buy, if possible try and communicate with the locals [ask them what’s best to buy from the city]. Some of the prime cities of India do leave a longing impact and impression on one’s presence; Varanasi is one of them and for the same reason fulfilling the desire of buying souvenirs is a must.
What to buy from Varanasi -
1- Banarasi Silk Sarees 2- The sacred water of Ganges 3- Wooden Crafts 4- Gulabi Minakari 5- Crystal and stone Shivlinga 6- Lal Pedha 7- Glass Beads 8- Rudraksha Mala 9- Ethnic clothes 10- Amazingly carved Stone Sculptures 11- Flutes 12- Books on Indology
Here are the names of must-visit shopping destinations – Vishwanath Gali| Godowlia Market| Aroma Garden| Banaras Art Gallery| Sharma Toys Emporium| Harmony Book Shop| The bed Silk and Pashmina| Thatheri Bazaar etc.
The Ganges city is home to depth soaked literature| art| music| festivals and many more; these are some of the major attention-seeking elements, which drive a huge amount of footfall in Varanasi. Some of the well-famed Indian writers resided in the pure city of Varanasi – Kabir, Ravidas and Tulsidas etc. This gracious city is a chief centre of arts and exemplary designs; it’s a highly efficient producer of silks and brocades with silver and gold thread work| wooden toys| Glass made Bangles| Ivory work| artistic brass| perfumes| copper ware| varieties of Handicrafts etc.
Music has always been a part of Varanasi; the music tradition of this place is traced to the Pauranic days. This city is associated with several incredible musicians and instrumentalists; it also observes various festivals of great importance on a wider scale – Dussehra, Diwali, Maha Shivratri, Dev Deepavali etc.
Here are the names of some must-have dishes of Varanasi – 1- Stuffed Kachori and Sabzi 2- Banarasi Paan 3- Dahi Jalebi 4- Banarasi Malaiyo [the creamy dessert] 5- Thandai 6- Baati Chokha 7- Tamatar Chaat [made out of Tomatoes] 8- Lassi 9- Dahi Vada 10- Flavoursome Chaat 11- Laung Lata
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this glorified temple is one the twelve Jyotirlingas and is also referred to in the Holy Scriptures. Located in the heart of Varanasi, it is the biggest fascination of visitors and the core of faiths for millions of Hindus. Situated in the banks of river Ganga, it captivates up to 3,000 devotees everyday with more than one lakh on occasions.
Made up of white marble in 1964, it is located nearby the famous Durga Temple. Dedicated to Lord Rama, this beautiful temple is famous as the Hindi version of Ramayana; Ram Charit Manas was written here. With the alluring gardens, the walls of this modern, marble, Shikara-style temple are engraved with verses and scenes from the Ram Charit Manas, the Hindi Version of Ramayana.
Constructed by a Bengali Maharani in 18th century, this famous temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The belief that attracts its devotees is that the Goddess appeared herself in the form of a statue and she is still there in the inner sanctum. Built in North Indian Style of Architecture, it is stained in red and ochre with multi-tired spires. Known for its fine architecture and stone work, the temple houses a pond known as the Durga Kund.
The hereditary home to the Maharaja of Banaras, Maharaja Balwant Singh, was constructed in the style of fort-palace in 18th century. This red sandstone built fort stands opposite to the bank of river Ganga and houses a temple and a museum within the fort.
With a royal collection of vintage cars, Royal palkies, an armory of swords and old guns, ivory work and antiquities stands the museum which has an great captivation for its travelers. The fort also houses a giant clock that displays the year, month, week, day and also the facts about the sun, moon and constellation of stars. With plenty to be explored stands this mesmerizing fort of Ramnagar.
Sarnath is a location very much famous amongst Buddhist Pilgrims in India. It is believed that post Buddha received his Enlightment at Bodhgaya; he went to Sarnath and preached his first sermon here. The Dhamekh Stupa and Monastery Ruins, the Archeological museum, the Chaukhandi Stupa, the Ashoka Pillar, the Mulagandha Kuti Vihar and the Chinese Thai Temple and Monastery.
The prime attraction of Varanasi, Benares Hindu University is considered to one of the largest universities of the World. Founded by Pandit Mohan Malviya in 1916 is one the few institutions of the country which can sense the wind of change in its culture. For the history lovers it is a must visit place. Yet one must visit it to explore the age-old traditions of learning and spirituality.
The most auspicious cremated place, Manikaran Ghat is one of the famous attractions of Varanasi. Popularly known as the Burning Ghat, this is the place where most of the dead bodies are cremated. With some major attractions, one can go for Varanasi Sightseeing Tour, Varanasi Shopping Tour and can buy some fine silk products.
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