Varanasi Is a city situated on the banks of the River Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, 320 kilometres (199 mi) southeast of state capital Lucknow. It is regarded as a holy city by Buddhists and Jains, and is the holiest place in the world in Hinduism (and center of the Earth in Hindu cosmology). According to legend, the city was founded by the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva, around 5,000 years ago, thus making it one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the country. It is one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus. Many Hindu scriptures, including the Rigveda, Skanda Purana, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata, mention the city.
Varanasi Tours & Travels Guide
The Kashi Naresh (Maharaja of Kashi) is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi and an essential part of all religious celebrations. The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river’s religious importance. The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years. The Benares Gharana form of Indian classical music developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians resided or reside in Varanasi, including Kabir, Ravidas Their Guru Swami Ramanand, Trailanga Swami, Munshi Premchand, Jaishankar Prasad, Acharya Shukla, Ravi Shankar, Girija Devi, Hariprasad Chaurasia, and Bismillah Khan. Tulsidas wrote Ramacharitamanas here, and Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath located near Varanasi (Kashi). People often refer to Varanasi as “the city of temples”, “the holy city of India”, “the religious capital of India”, “the city of lights”, and “the city of learning.”
Ganges Varanasi – Uttar Pradesh :
The Ganges is the largest river in the Indian subcontinent by discharge. The 2,510 km (1,560 mi) river rises in the western Himalayas in the Uttarakhand. It has long been considered the holiest of all rivers by Hindus and worshiped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. It has also been important historically: many former provincial or imperial capitals (such as Patliputra, Kannauj, Kara, Allahabad, Murshidabad, Baharampur and Kolkata) have been located on its banks.The Ganges, above all is the river of India, which has held India’s heart captive and drawn uncounted millions to her banks since the dawn of history.
The story of the Ganges, from her source to the sea, from old times to new, is the story of India’s civilization and culture, of the rise and fall of empires. After flowing 200 kilometres (120 mi) through its narrow Himalayan valley, the Ganga debouches into the Gangetic Plain at the pilgrimage town of Haridwar. There, a dam diverts some of its waters into the Ganges Canal, which irrigates the Doab region of Uttar Pradesh. The Ganga, whose course has been roughly southwestern until this point, now begins to flow southeast through the plains of northern India.Further, the river follows an 800 kilometres (500 mi) curving course passing through the city of Kanpur before being joined from the southwest by the Yamuna at Allahabad. This point is known as the Sangam at Allahabad. Sangam is a sacred place in Hinduism.
According to ancient Hindu texts, at one time a third river, the Sarasvati, met the other two rivers at this point.Situated on the banks of the river Ganges, Varanasi and Haridwar are considered by all Hindus to be the holiest cities in Hinduism. The Ganges is mentioned in the Rig-Veda, the earliest of the Hindu scriptures. It appears in the Nadistuti sukta (Rig Veda 10.75), which lists the rivers from east to west. In RV 6.45.31, the word Ganga is also mentioned, people scatter ashes of loved ones here.
Many Hindus also believe life is incomplete without taking a bath in the Ganges at least once in their lives. Many Hindu families keep a vial of water from the Ganges in their house. This is done because it is auspicious to have water of the Holy Ganges in the house, and also so that if someone is dying, that person will be able to drink its water. Many Hindus believe that the water from the Ganges can cleanse a person’s soul of all past sins, and that it can also cure the ill. This is the place where Siddhartha Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon to his disciples.
Some of the most important Hindu festivals and religious congregation (worship) happen here. Congregations are celebrated on the banks of the River Ganges, such as the Kumbh Mela, every twelve years at Haridwar and at Allahabad. Varanasi is a noted centre for Banarasi silk weaving and brassware. Fine silks and brocaded fabrics, exquisite saris, brassware, jewellery, woodcraft, carpets, wall hangings, lamp shades and masks of Hindu and Buddhist deities are some of Varanasi’s shopping attractions. The main shopping areas include the Chowk, Godaulia, Vishwanath Lane, Lahurabir and Thatheri Bazaar. Assi Ghat, a midway point between Godaulia in the heart of downtown and youth culture of Benares Hindu University, is the district where most young, foreign, long-term residents stay. The many symbolic meanings of the river on the Indian subcontinent were spoken to in 1946 by Jawaharlal Nehru in his Discovery of India.
Varanasi Ghats – Uttar Pradesh:
Varanasi has nearly 100 ghats. Many of the ghats were built when the city was under Maratha control. Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwes (Peshwas) stand out as patrons of present-day Varanasi. Most of the ghats are bathing ghats, while others are used as cremation sites. Many ghats are associated with legends or mythologies while many ghats are privately owned. The former Kashi Naresh owns Shivala or Kali ghat.
Ramnagar Fort Varanasi – Uttar Pradesh:
Varanasi became an independent Kingdom of Kashi in the eighteenth century, and under subsequent British rule, it remained a commercial and religious center. In 1910, the British made Varanasi a new Indian state, with Ramanagar as its headquarters but with no jurisdiction over the city of Varanasi itself. Kashi Naresh still resides in the fort of Ramanagar. The Ramnagar Fort of the Kashi Naresh is situated to the east of Varanasi, across the Ganges. The Ramnagar Fort was built by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh with creamy chunar sandstone in the eighteenth century. It is a typically Mughal style of architecture with carved balconies, open courtyards, and picturesque pavilions. The other fort of the Kashi Naresh is the Chet Singh Palace, near Shivala Ghat, Varanasi built by Maharaja Chet Singh. Ramnagar Fort and its museum are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares and since the 18th century has been the home of Kashi Naresh. Even today the Kashi Naresh is deeply revered by the people of Benares. He is the religious head and the people of Benares consider him the incarnation of Lord Shiva. He is also the chief cultural patron and an essential part of all religious celebrations.
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Ramlila Festivals At Varanasi – Uttar Pradesh:
When the Dasara festivities are inaugurated with a colourful pageant Kashi Naresh rides an elephant at the head of the procession. Then, resplendent in silk and brocade, he inaugurates the month long folk theatre of Ramlila at Ramnagar, Varanasi. The Ramlila is a cycle of plays which recounts the epic story of Lord Rama, as told in Ramacaritamanasa, the version of the Ramayana penned by Tulsidas. The plays sponsored by the Maharaja, are performed in Ramnagar every evening for 31 days. On the last day the festivities reach a crescendo as Rama vanquishes the demon king Ravana. Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh started this tradition of staging the Ramleela at Ramnagar in mid-nineteenth century. This is very important to the river ganges ritual.Hindu temples in Varanasi – Uttar Pradesh: Varanasi is a city of temples. Almost every road crossing has a nearby temple. Such small temples form the basis of daily local prayers and other rituals. But there are many large temples too, erected at different times through out the history of Varanasi.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple :
Also called Golden Temple, which in its present shape was built in 1780 by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore, is located on the outskirts of the Ganges. This temple makes Varanasi a place of great religious importance to the Hindus, as Vishweshwara or Vishwanatha, the aforementioned Jyotirlinga of the Lord Shiva is enshrined here. It is said that a single view of Vishwanatha Jyotirlinga is considered to merit more than that of other jyotirlingas.
A Naubatkhana was built up in front of the Temple by the collector Mohammed Ibrahim Khan at the instance of Governor General Warren Hastings in 1785. In 1839, Punjab Kesari, the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the ruler of Punjab donated gold to cover the two domes of the temple. On 28 January 1983 the Temple was taken over by the government of Uttar Pradesh and its management was transferred to a trust with Late Dr. Vibhuti Narayan Singh, then Kashi Naresh, as president and an executive committee with Divisional Commissioner as chairman.The temple was once destroyed by the Muslim Emperor Aurangzeb who converted most parts of the temple into a Mosque. It was later resurrected at a location near the mosque.
Durga Temple :
Also nicknamed “Monkey temple,” was built at some point of time in 18th century. The temple got the name ‘Monkey temple’ because of the presence of large number of monkeys in the temple. According to legends, the present statue of Goddess Durga was not made by man but appeared on its own in the temple. Thousands of Hindu devotees visit the Durga temple during Navratri and other auspicious occasions.The architecture is of Nagara Style, which is typical of North India. The temple is accompanied by a rectangular tank of water called Durga Kund. (“Kund” meaning a pond or pool.) The temple has multi-tiered spires and is stained red with ochre, signifying the red colour of Durga. The Kund was earlier connected to the river itself thus refreshing the water. This channel was later closed, leading to locked water which is replenished only by rain or drainage from the Temple. Every year on the occasion of Nag Panchami, the act of depicting Lord Vishnu reclining on the coiled-up mystical snake or “Shesha” is repeated in the Kund.
Baba Keenaram Sthal- Headquarter and world fame Pilgrim of Aghora scet. Work place of great saint Baba Keenaram. One of the most Visiting Places, of Varanasi, by Researchers, Documentaries Maker,Writers and Tourists.
Vishalakshi Temple :
This temple is dedicated to Vishalakshi (means wide-eyed) or Parvati , the consort of Lord Shiva.
Sankat Mochan Temple :
Is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and is very popular with the local citizens. It is a place for many yearly religious as well as cultural festivals. On 7 March 2006, one of the three explosions carried out by Islamic militants hit the temple, while the aarti, in which numerous worshippers and wedding attendees participated, was in progress.
Vyasa Temple :
At Ramnagar According to a popular Puranic story, when Vyasa failed to get alms in Varanasi he put a curse on the city. Soon after, at a house where Parvati and Shiva had taken human form as householders, Vyasa was so pleased with the alms he received that he forgot his curse. However, because of his bad temper Shiva banished Vyasa from Varanasi. Resolved to be near at hand, Vyasa took his residence on the other side of the Ganges where his temple may still be seen at Ramnagar.
The New Vishwanath Temple :
The New Vishwanath Temple, also called Birla Mandir, mainly funded by Raja Birla of the Birla family of industrialists, was built as a replica of the old Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Planned by Madan Mohan Malaviya, the temple is part of the Banaras Hindu University campus, and stands for national revival. The temple is open to people of all castes and religions.Tulsi Manas Temple : Constructed by family of Varanasi, this modern temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. It is situated at the place where Tulsidas, the great medieval seer, lived and wrote the epic “Shri Ramcharitmanas”, which narrates the life of Lord Rama, the hero of the Ramayana. Verses from Tulsidas epic are inscribed on the walls. It is close to Durga Temple.Annapurna Temple : Near the Kashi Vishwanath temple, there is a nice temple of Devi Annapurna, believed as the “Goddess of Fooding”. She is a form of Parvati. She is also known as Kashipuraadeeshwari (“Queen of Kasi”).
Sankatha Temple :
Near the Sindhia Ghat, there is an important temple of “Goddess of Remedy” Devi Sankatha. Inside its premises there is a huge statue of a Lion. Also there is nine temples of nine planets nearby to this temple.Kalbhairav Temple : It is the ancient temple of Varanasi near the Head Post Office, VishesharGanj. God KalBhairav is believed as “Kotwal Of Varanasi” , without his permission no one can stay in Kashi.Mrityunjay Mahadev Temple : On the route of Daranagar to Kalbhairav temple this temple of Lord Shiva is situated.
Just besides this temple there is a Well of much religious importance, whose water is said to be mixture of several underground streams and good for eliminating several diseases.Bharat Mata Temple : The Bharat Mata temple at Varanasi is the only temple dedicated to Bharat Mata. It is located in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth campus. The Bharat Mata temple was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936. The statute of Bharat Mata is built in marble and is a model of undivided India, depicting the mountains, plains and oceans. The most peculiar thing about the Bharat Mata Temple is that instead of the customary gods and goddesses, it houses a relief map of India, carved out of marble.
Transport Facilities :
Varanasi is well connected by air, rail and road with the major Indian cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Ujjain, Jaipur, Patna, Secunderabad etc.It is located at a distance of 776 km from Delhi. It is located at a distance of 1840 km from Secunderabad.One of the major factors in Varanasi’s sustained existence as an inhabited city is its role as an established transportation hub between different cities. Dating to the ancient times, the city was connected to cities like Taxila, Ghazipur, Pataliputra, Vaishali, Ayodhya, Gorakhpur, Agra etc.
The Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Babatpur, commonly known as Varanasi Airport is located about 25 km from the city center and is well connected to Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Khajuraho, Bangkok, Bangalore, Colombo and Kathmandu.
The first railway line to Benares was opened from Kolkata in December 1862 and was built by the East Indian Railway Company. The double-decked Malviya Bridge takes both the railway and the Grand Trunk Road across the river Ganges near Rajghat.
Varanasi Junction under the control of Northern Railways and Mughal Sarai Junction of East Central Railway are the two major railway stations within the city limit. Apart from these there are 16 other railway stations located within the city limits.
Previously, the city was connected by a single road from Taxila going through Pataliputra during the Maurya Empire. This road was later renovated and extended by Sher Shah Suri during the 16th century and later came to be known as the famous Grand Trunk Road.
The NH 2 linking Delhi-Kolkata passes through the city and NH 7 which is the longest National Highway in India connects Varanasi with the cities of Jabalpur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Madurai and Kanyakumari.
Auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are the most widely available public transport within Varanasi. In outer regions of the city, mini-buses are common. Small boats and small steamers are used to cross the River Ganges.
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