Famous Tourist Places in Varanasi IndiaVaranasi also known as Benaras is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in India. Situated on the banks of sacred river Ganges, Varanasi has been a centre of learning and civilisation for over 2,000 years. Besides being a pilgrimage centre, it is considered as an auspicious place to die, ensuring an instant route to Heaven. Apart from Hinduism, it is also an important pilgrimage centre for Buddhists as it was at Sarnath (10-km from Varanasi), Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightenment. It is the only city in Asia with three Universities.
Varanasi India is among the oldest living cities in the world. Thousands of devotees come daily to Varanasi to take a ritual dip in the river Ganga, to cleanse their souls of sins and to worship its, many temples.
Varanasi is so old that it is a part of Indian mythology and finds mention in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Through the ages Varanasi was also known variously as "Avimuktaka", "Anandakanana", "Mahasmasana", "Surandhana", "Brahma Vardha", "Sudarsana", "Ramya" and "Kasi" or Kashi - 'the City of Light". Its present identity is derived from the two tributaries of the Ganga, Varuna and Asi that join the river along the northern and southern periphery of the city. Today Varanasi is 'Kashi', the ultimate pilgrimage for thousands of devotees around the country, while to urban India it continues to be the popular 'Benaras'.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple:
As Shiva's abode Varanasi has always been venerated. It is believed that the Jyotirlinga in the Kashi Vishwanath Temple goes back to the time of the epics. The temple itself is of more recent origin. Successive invasions starting with the destruction of the city in 1193 by Mohammed Ghori and ending with the plunder of Benaras by Warren Hastings nearly 600 years later; saw the temple being built and rebuilt a number of times. The present temple was constructed by Rani Ahalya Bai Holkar, the ruler of Indore, in 1776. A few years later in 1835, at the instance of the Sikh ruler of Lahore, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the temple Shikhara was gilded with gold leaf.
The Vishvanath temple was destroyed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who built the Gaynvapi Mosque in its place. Even today the western wall of the mosque show the remnants of a temple which had very intricate and fine artwork on it. Both the Kashi Vishwanath and the Gyanvapi mosque are adjacent to each other.
Built in the 8th century, the Durga temple is one of the most important Temples in Varanasi. This temple is built in Nagara Style. The Shikhara of the temple is formed by many small spires which are built one on top of the other.
Bharat Mata Temple:
This temple is dedicated to Mother India. Just one kilometer from the Varanasi station. The temple is built in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth which was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt. This temple 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 which has the mountains, plains and oceans in right proportion.
Tulsi Manas Temple:
This temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. The temple is built in the place where Goswami Tulsidas composed the epic 'Ramacharitramanas' which provides us with detailed description of the history and deeds of Lord Rama. Tulsi Manas Temple was constructed by a philanthropist family in 1964.
The living pulsating heart of he city, the Ghats, are wide tone steps that descend to the river for almost 5-km along the west bank, affording a secure bathing platform for devotees whatever the level of the water. At any point of the day these steps are a kaleidoscope of colour, a shifting pattern of pilgrims on their way to and from the river. Here people consult the Pandas or priests under their palm leaf umbrellas or buy offerings for rituals. Rising as a backdrop to all this activity is the magnificent superstructure of temples, Havelis and the domes and minarets of mosques. A labyrinth of narrow lanes behind these buildings link the Ghats to the rest of the city. Wandering through this maze can be fascinating. Shops sell rich brocaded silks, brassware and also all the articles essential for worship at the numerous little shrines.
Viewing the Ghats early in the morning from a boat on the river can be an unforgettable experience. They emerge out of the mist like a dream, to be bathed in the golden glow of the rising sun - an image that leaves an indelible imprint on one's being. The mist clears, the light is brighter and the Ghats reverberate with the chant of mantras, the sound of bells and the cries of the vendors. An aroma of incense sticks, oil lamps and flowers fills the air. At dusk too the Ghats are magical, as hundreds of little lamps float out on the river as offerings.
The Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum:
The Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum on the campus of the Benaras Hindu University is noted for its splendid collections of sculpture and terracotta from places like Mathura, Sarnath, Khajuraho, miniature paintings and manuscripts.
Benaras 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 university also has the huge Vishwanath temple which was built and maintained by the Birla family. The Sunderlal Medical center has all the modern facilities of medical field is also located in the university campus.
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 which can match any modern instrument.
PLACES OF INTEREST AROUND VARANASI
Places to See Varanasi, Founded by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1360 to protect the eastern borders of he Delhi Sultanate, Jaunpur is noted for its fine monuments and famous for its Ittar industry. The immense Akbari bridge built in the 16th century still stands tall with its 15 arches - a testimony to the building skills of that time. A sculpture of a lion and elephant engaged in battle at one end of the bridge served once as a milestone.
The tranquil Deer Park at Sarnath is where the Buddha preached his first sermon. Sarnath became one of the great centres of Buddhism and the Emperor Ashoka erected magnificent stupas and structures here. The Chines scholar Huien Tasang who came to Sarnath in 640 AD was to write of the splendour of the city. Rediscovered and excavated in 1836, Sarnath is once again a place of pilgrimage where visitors come to pay homage to the great teacher.
Strategically located, the magnificent battlements of the fort overlook the river. This vantage point, occupied since early times dates back to Vikramaditya of Ujjain 56 BC. Chunar is also famous for its sandstone and the material for Emperor Ashoka's pillars were once quarried here. The fort has seen dramatic events in more recent times. Akbar attacked it in 1575 and the fort later assessed into the possession of the Nawabs of Oudh. Finally the British captured it in 1764.
The mention of this town can be seen in the Mahabharata. It is said that the Pandav brothers lived here. Buddha visited this place many times and the gave sermons after his enlightenment in 6th and 9th century. Kaushambi developed as a major center for Buddhism. The ruins of an old fort tells the saga of the towns antiquity. Kaushambi is 185-kms from Varanasi.
SHOPPING IN VARANASI
Varanasi is also famous all over India for its Silk Brocades and beautiful Benarasi Sarees. There's a market near the GPO called Golghar where the markets of silk brocades sell directly to shops in the areas. 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.
Varanasi Tourism, Banaras is also famous for its ' Langda Aam', a variety of mangoes available in the summer. Betel leaf is also a specialty. The main shopping areas of the city are the City Chowk, Godoulia, Vishwanath lane, Gyan Vapi, Thatheri Baazar, Dasashvamedh, Golghar and Lahurabir. The Emporia and Souvenir shops approved by the UP tourism are good place to look for genuine and good stuff too purchase.