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Home | Destinations | Varanasi

VARANASI / BANARAS (INDIA)

STATE :-  UTTAR PRADESH

 

DISTANCE

  • 135 KM From Allahabad
  • 297 KM From Lucknow
  • 252 KM From Patna.

 

CONNECTION
  • By Air : Varanasi is well connected and accessible to major Indian cities and tourist spots. There are daily domestic flights to and from Varanasi to several cities in India.
  • By Train : Well connected by trains to all the major cities in India, Varanasi is an important and major rail junction. Some of the important trains connecting it to Delhi and Mumbai are Kashi Vishwanath Express, Shramjivi Express, Saryu-Yamuna Express, Mahanagri Express, Pawan Express and Purva Express.
  • By Road : Varanasi is well-connected by smooth and good roads and national highways to the rest of the country such as Kolkata, Delhi, Kanya Kumari and Gorakhpur.
ABOUT VARANASI (BANARAS)

Varanasi is more popular as Banaras or Banares and Kashi. Varanasi city is located on the west bank or the left side of the holy River Ganga (Ganges). Hindus, Jains and Budhists consider this beautiful city as holy place. This city is also considered as one of the oldest constantly populated cities in the world. Varanasi city is known by several names; but the recent and official name is also mentioned in the hindus holy tale Mahabharata and in the Jataka tales of Buddhism. This name is perhaps drawing from from the two rivers that edge the city, one is the Varana River, which is at the north, and another one is the Asi River at the south. Another assumption about the source of the name of the city is that the river Varuna itself was known as Varanasi in olden times.

Varanasi’s relations with lord Shiva is from the start of time: myths narrate how, Shiva after his marriage to Parvati, left his Himalayan home and came to live in Kashi (Varanasi) in the presence of all the gods. Because he is temporarily banished in the rule of the great king Divodasa, Shiva send Brahma and Vishnu as his representative, but finally returned to his lawful home protected by his faithful followers Kalabhairav and Dandapani. Varanasi city is a glorious place of pilgrimage and an idealize hub of faith and devotion, has been also associated with Mecca and Jerusalem. If we believe on historians, the city was established some ten centuries earlier than the birth of Christ. Varanasi city is referred in divine Scriptures like 'Vamana Purana', Buddhist book of god and in the classic 'Mahabharata'.

Varanasi's importance in Hindu tradition is almost unmatched. For the religious Hindu this city has always a unique and special place, moreover being a pilgrimage centre, it is considered particularly auspicious and lucky to die here, guarantee a direct route to heaven. The holy and very old city Varanasi is the religious hub for the Hindus.

 

PLACES OF INTERESTS IN VARANASI (BANARAS)
  • Kashi Vidya Peeth : The Kashi Vidyapeeth was set up in 1920 by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta to provide alternate education arrangement discarding that of the British. It soon became a centre of natoinal education with Hindi as the medium of instruction. Acharya Narendradev, Babu Sampurnanand, Babu Sriprakash & many more Luminaries of the time have been associated with this institute.
  • Museums & Arts Galleries : Archaeological musuem Sarnath open 09:30 am.- 5 pm. Friday clossed. Ramnager fort musuem, open 10 am.-5 pm. Clossed on Friday. Bharat Kala Bhawan B.H.U. open 10:30 am.- 4 pm. Clossed on Sundays & university holidays. Archaeological musuem, Sampurnanand Sanskrit University open 10 am. – 5 pm. Clossed on Sunday & university holidays.
  • Banaras Hindu University : The Banaras Hindu University was established in 1916 by special efforts of Nationalist Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. Today it has grown into one of the biggest universities of India.
  • Barat Kala Bhawan, B.H.U : Started in 1950 as a university museum, Bharat Kala Bhawan in famous for its unique collection of miniature paintings. It has a rich collection of Rajasthani paintings, Pichhawai’s, pahari painting, Nepalese & Tibetan Thankas, Company paintings as well as paintings of contemporary artists, illustrated Mrigavati, Kalpa Sutra, Chora-Panchasika, Laura-Chanda, Shah-nama and some pages of Humza-nama Are the proud possessions of this museum.
  • Maharaja Banaras Vidya Mandir Museum, Ramnager : Ramnager fort was originally built by Maharaja Balwant Singh (1740-70 AD.) The Banaras Vidya Mandir Museum is housed in the Ramnager fort itself. The museum collection mainly Comprises of textiles, pieces of decorative arts, arms & armours, utilitarian objects, means of transport-old bagghis, palkis & haudasivories, furniture & manuscripts.
  • Central Institute Of Higher Tibetan Studies : The only institute of its kind in the world, imprating education in the Tibetan language, it was Est. by the Dalai Lama in 1971. Presently located at Sarnath, the institute has a rare collection of Buddhist texts, Tibetan manuscripts and other journals.

 

RELIGIOUS PLACES IN VARANASI (BANARAS)
  • Annapurna Bhavani Temple : It is a major temple devoted to the supreme Shakti, widely known here as Annapurna, carrying a cooking pot rather than the fearsome weapons borne by her fearful forms such as Kali and Durga. She is the divine consort of Kashi Vishwanath (Shiva) and is considered to be the 'Mother of the Three Worlds'. Within the temple complex lies a subsidiary temple housing a solid gold image of Annapurna, which opens only three days a year. Adjacent to this shrine is a magnificent image of Lord Shani or Saturn, in silver against a black background. A Ram Mandir is also present at one corner of the complex. The word 'Annapurna' is the combination of two words 'Anna' and 'Purna,' which literally mean ‘food’ and 'plenty / rich' respectively. A food festival is organized here in October or November. During Dipawali the golden image of Annapurna is shown as giving alms to Shiva for the welfare of the world.
  • Assi Ghat : Assi Ghat is one of the bathing ghats in Varanasi, which situated at the confluence of the Ganges and the Assi rivers. This ghat is associated with goddess Durga. After striking down demons Shumbha and Nishumbha, her sword is said to have fallen and created a curved channel, which later became the Assi Channel. This ghat comes under the group of the five special ghats which pilgrims are supposed to bathe in, during the ritual route called " Panchatirthi Yatra" ending in the Adikeshva ghat in the north.
  • Assisangameshwar Temple : Assisangameshwar Temple is a beautiful marble temple located close to Assi Ghat, the merging point of the rivers Ganges and the Assi. The temple has an old Shivling that draws a large number of devotees. This huge shivling is positioned under a peepal tree. During the ritual journey called ‘Panchatirthi Yatra', devotees usually take bath in the Assi Ghat prior to entering the temple. According to myth, the holy ghat was formed by the sword of Goddess Durga who defeated demons Shumbha and Nishumbha.
  • Bharat Mata Temple : Bharat Mata Temple, dedicated to Mother India, is located in Varanasi. The temple was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth. Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936, it has a marble statue of Mother India. The statue is a model of undivided India in three dimensions with the mountains, plains and oceans in right proportion.
  • Chaukhandi Stupa : Constructed in the the 5th century, the stupa marks the spot where the Buddha met the five ascetics. The octagonal tower is of Islamic origin and a later addition.
  • Chausatthi Devi : Chausatthi Devi Temple is located at Varanasi. The presiding deity here is Chausatthi Devi, who is considered as the mother goddess. The name 'Chausatthi' is derived from word ‘chausatha’, which means 64. It indicates the number of yognis (assistant goddesses) of the mother goddess. However, the temple only enshrines 60 of these deities. The remaining 4 have been moved to other locations. The temple attracts a sizeable number of devotees during the new moon day of the Hindu month of chaitra (March-April). On this auspicious day the pilgrims pay their homage to the goddess and take a dip in the holy waters of Ganges River, which flows nearby. Causatthi Ghat is located nearby.
  • Choukhandi Stupa : One of the important stupas of Sarnath in Varanasi, the Choukhandi Stupa is believed to be the spot, where Buddha was reunited with his five disciples. Built by the Mughal emperor Akbar in AD 1555, the Stupa, standing on a terraced rectangular plinth, is crowned by an octagonal Mughal tower. The tower was built by Akbar to remember his father"s visit to the place.
  • Dasaswamedh Ghat : Dasasvamedha Ghat, a place with historical significance, is one of the busiest ghats in Varanasi of Uttar Pradesh. It is mythologically related to Lord Brahma, who performed Dasa-asvamedha (ten - horses sacrifice) at this site. Nearby are the shrines of Sulatankesvara, Brahmesvara, Varahesvara, Abhaya Vinayaka and Bandi Devi. Each of them is associated with important pilgrim journeys.
  • Dharmesha Temple : Dharmesha Temple is a sacred shrine on Mira Ghat, one of the ghats in Varanasi. The temple is dedicated to Lord Yama, the god of death and justice. In the vicinity of this temple lies a well, Dharma Kupa - literally meaning the "Well of Justice". There are five other temples nearby. Among these five temples, the oldest is the temple of Vriddhaditya, literally meaning "Old Sun". The shrine is dedicated to Surya, the Sun God, who is also considered the father of Yama.
  • Dhundhiraj Ganesh Temple : Dhundhiraj Ganesh Temple is one of the oldest temples in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, situated on Vishwanath Lane, within a walking distance from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. This temple is devoted to Lord Ganesh, the preserver of knowledge and wisdom, and the remover of obstacles.
  • Ganga Mahal : Ganga Mahal, a palace, overlooks the Ganges River and bathing ghats in Varanasi of Uttar Pradesh. An extension of Assi Ghat, it was built by the Maharaja of Banaras in 1830. A number of beautiful carvings can be seen here.
  • Hanuman Ghat : Hanuman Ghat, located within Juna Akhara, is a pilgrim spot in Varanasi. Earlier known as Ramesvaram Ghat, it is thought to have been built by Lord Ram. It is also believed to be the place where Vallabhacharya, a Vaishnava saint, preached the glories of Lord Krishna. Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, this ghat is popular among wrestlers and body builders. Hanuman Ghat enshrines two temples, of which one is believed to have been erected by Tulsidas, a saint poet. Also found here is an outstanding image of Ruru Bhairava, one among the eight Bhairavas.
  • Harishchandra Ghat : Harish Chandra Ghat is an important ghat located on the banks of the holy Ganga River, in Varanasi. This ghat is named after the legendary king Harish Chandra, who was known for his truthfulness and honesty. As the story goes, the king even worked in a cremation ground. This cremation ground is said to exist near the ghat. Adjoining the ghat are numerous temples containing the idols of Harischandreshwara, Rohiteshwara, Adi Manikarnikeshwara and Vrddha Kedara.
  • Kal Bhairava Temple : Kal Bhairava Temple is an ancient temple situated at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, near the intersection of Chauli Road and Kabir Chaura Road. This highly sacred shrine is devoted to Kal Bhairava, a terrifying aspect of Lord Shiva, who cut off the fifth head of Brahma. He is also considered by the devotees as the religious magistrate of the city. This is the only temple which miraculously escaped from the hands of Aurangzeb.
  • Kashi Vishwanatha Temple : The Kashi Vishwanatha temple also known as the Golden Temple is the presiding temple of Benares. It is dedicated to one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India. The temple was destroyed and rebuilt many times. The present structure was constructed by Rani Ahalyabai Holkar in the 18th century. Legend says that the jyotirlinga manifested on a dispute between the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, as to who was the supreme god. Shiva converted himself into a column of light, the jyotirlinga. Neither Brahma nor Vishnu were able to discover the ends of the linga. They then conceded defeat and worshipped him.
  • Kedar Ghat : Kedara Ghat is one of the significant pilgrim spots in Varanasi. It is mythologically related to Kedarnath in the Himalayas. It is also the site of Haramapapa Teerth. The highlight here is a red-and-white-striped temple, which enshrines Kedareshvara Lingam. The sanctums of Tarakesvara, Gauri Kunda and Vitanka Nrsimha can also be seen here. A monastery was attached to the temple by Kumaraswami, a great saint, during the 16th century.
  • Lolark Kund : Lolark Kund, one of the oldest sacred sites of Varanasi, is a rectangular tank of 15m height below the ground level. The word Lolark means "trembling Sun" - denoting the wavering image of Surya, the Sun God, in the water of the tank. A flight of steep steps is provided to approach the tank. Thousands of devotees come here during Lolark Shasthi to worship the Sun God.
  • Mahamrityunjaya Temple : Mahamrityunjaya Temple is a highly revered shrine in Varanasi of Uttar Pradesh. Lord Shiva, in the form of Mrityunjaya, is the presiding deity here. It is believed that by worshipping Shiva one can win over his death. A large number of devotees come here for performing Mahamritunjay-path - a ritual to dispel all kinds of fears and diseases.
  • Sankat Mochan Mandir : Located on the Durga Kund Road, Sankat Mochan Mandir is one of the ancient shrines in Varanasi. The "Sankat Mochan" literally means "deliverer from troubles". This temple is believed to have been built by Tulsidas, a saint poet. The presiding deity is Lord Hanuman. The Sankat Mochan Music Festival, celebrated here to mark the birth of Lord Hanuman, draws people from far and near. Artists from all over the country assemble here on this occasion.
  • St Mary's Church : St Mary"s Church is situated in the cantonment area of Varanasi. This church has a low tower, spire and projecting portico. There are three simple louvered doors beneath plain cornices alternating with two bays, each with white plaster niches. Above each doorway is a rectangular fanlight, protected from the glare of the sun by a plain timber canopy - a simple device which has a major architectural impact.
  • Vishalakshi Mandir : Vishalakshi Mandir is one of the holy shaktipithas situated at Mira Ghat in Varanasi. This temple enshrines the idol of Goddess Vishalakshi, the Wide-Eyed Goddess. It is one of the important sites, where various parts of the disintegrating body of Sati are believed to have fallen while it was carried by the heartbroken Shiva.

 

WHEN TO GO VARANASI (BANARAS)

The best time to visit Varanasi is in the month of September till February when the weather remains mostly pleasant with a comfortable mercury level.

 

WEATHER FORECAST

Summers, weather can be as hot as 45°C and humid too as Varanasi lies at the Tropic of cancer. Torrential rains and high humidity accompanies the monsoons that usually come in late June or early July for about two months. Delicious and juicy mangoes offer little relief from the sweating weather. On the other hand, Winters are pleasant and temperature dips down to about 7°C.

EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN VARANASI (BANARAS)
  • The Ramlila : The Ramlila of Ramagar is famous far and wide. The Ramlila is based on the Ramcharitramanas by Tulsidas. The month ling festival is usually held during October / November and it sees the performance of many ancient rituals.
  • Bharat Milap : Around Dussehra a fair is held in Nati Imli which celebrates the return of Lord Rama from 14 years of exile. His reunion with his younger brother Bharat is celebrated as Bharat milap. This festival is attended by the king of Kashi in royal flavour. The festival is attended by at least a million devotees. Held in the month of October / November.
  • Ganga Festival : A festive experience like none other awaits you at Ganga Festival at Varanasi.
  • Kartik Purnima : Celebrated in the month of November-December is the sacred day, when the ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of brightly-lit earthern lamps.
  • Buddh Purnima : This festival is celebrated with pomp and gaiety in Sarnath. This day Lord Buddha was born. A large fair is held in Sarnath and the relics of Buddha are taken out in a procession for public viewing on this day. Buddh Purnima is celebrated during the month of May.
  • Nakkatyya : This festival again is based on the Ramayana. The episode in the epic where the sister of Ravana tries to influence Lakshmana to marry her but instead Lakshman chops off her nose. On hearing this Ravana vows revenge against the brothers. This incidence in the epic is one of the reasons why Sita was abducted by Ravana. The festival is held in Chetganj with much fan fair.
  • Hanuman Jayanti : This festival is celebrated to mark the birth of the monkey God Hanuman . The five day long festivities are held at the Sankat Mochan temple. During this festival many plays are staged based on the Saraswati, Ram , Krishnalila and Hanuman Charitra.
  • Mahashivratri : Though Mahashivratri is celebrated throughout India, Varanasi has some special charm in the celebration the festival. During the festival a procession is taken out from the Maha-Mritunjaya temple to Kashi Viswanath Temple.
  • The Dhrupad Mela : In the month of March a five day long music festival is organised on the Tulsi Ghats. during the five days renowned artists from all over the country perform Dhrupad here. This festival is one of the major tourist attraction of Varanasi.
  • Panch Koshi Parikrama : The procession has got the name because it passes through five places. These five places are Kardmeshwar, Bhimchandi, Rameshwar, Shivpur and Kapildhara. The parikrama has special importance in the ancient parikramas of India. The procession starts and ends at Manikarnika Ghat.

 

FOOD AND RESTURANTS IN VARANASI (BANARAS)

Just like its rich culture and lifestyle, Varanasi is equally famous for its rich variety of foods and cuisines. The sumptuous and delicious but tangy and spicy North Indian food and snacks are the best options to try at Varanasi. However, one can get good Chinese, Italian, Continental and South-Indian food too. There are good number of Byzantine eateries and restaurants in the cities where one can explore for the food that suits one's tastes. The wide variety of mouth-watering sweets and 'chatpate' snacks are just not to be missed.

There is 'paapri-chaat', which plays with your taste buds with its tangy and spicy flavor of ginger and tamarind chutney and the cooling and soothing yoghurt. While talking about the specialties of Benarasi flavors, who can ever forget the sour and sweet 'Langda aam', a variety of mango available in summers and the fragrant 'Benarasi paan' that is often added with aromatic essences such as that of rose and 'supari' (areca-nut) along with other goodies. Chewing this 'paan' seems to be a part of the cultural identity of the people of Varanasi.

Open Hand Shop & Café, Brown Bread Bakery, Lotus Lounge, Apsara Restaurant, Canton Restaurant.

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