September 21, 2014

Varanasi

Site Name: Varanasi aka Banaras aka Kashi
Site Type: Ancient city
Location:  Uttar Pradesh state, India
Highlights: One of the most sacred and the oldest cities in India
Nearest Railway Station: Varanasi
Nearest Airport: Allahabad
How to reach: Well connected by road and rail
Hotel: A lot of options including low cost and free accommodation such as ashrams
Restaurants: Varieties of options 

Varanasi is one of the oldest cities of India. It is called in various names such as Kasi, Kashi and Banaras. The city which is located on the banks of the river Ganga is considered as one of the sacred cities for Hindus. From the time immemorial, Kasi has been the center of education, religion, art, culture and heritage. A lot of historical events have been taken place in this city. This city has been widely and repeatedly referred in Indian mythology. Even today the city attracts thousands of pilgrims and equal number of tourists due to its rich heritage and uniqueness. 

Varnasi has different kinds of attractions - dip in the river Ganga, hundreds of river ghats, aarti of river Ganga in the evening, ancient temples that the city is dotted with, shopping for Banaras silk sarees and lot more. Let me give an overview of the important tourist sites of Varnasi.

The Ghats of Varanasi

The ancient city of Kasi is mainly famous because of the river Ganga and its bathing ghats. People flock in large numbers every day to take bath in the river and visit the temples located on the banks of the river. It is believed to be sacred to take a dip in the river in Kasi. It would get rid of you from your sin. Although there are hundreds of ghats in Kasi, five ghats are considered as the most sacred. To complete 'Kasi yatra' one has to take dip in these five ghats without fail (as per the tradition) - Asi Ghat, Dashashwamedha Ghat, Adi Kesava Ghat, Pancha Ganga Ghat and Manikarnika Ghat. 


Kasi Vishwanatha Temple

The most important temple of Kasi is Vishwanatha (Lord Shiva). The gold plated 15.5 meter high spire is very popular in this temple. The original temple was built in the time immemorial. The temple was referred in lot of Hindu puranas. The temple was destroyed and rebuilt many times. The previous structure was destroyed by the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb. It was Rani Ahilya Bai of Indore who built the current temple in 1776 CE. The Shiva Linga idol of Vishwanath is very small in size similar to the size of the current structure of temple located in a narrow lane of Kasi.


Annapurna Temple

Situated in the lane where Vishwanath temple is the temple dedicated to Annapurna, the Goddess of Kasi.


New Vishwanatha Temple


A grand temple of Vishwanatha is situated inside the campus of Banaras Hindu University. This temple was built by the reputed industrialists, Birla family.


Tulsi Manas Temple

Tulsi Manas Temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. It is the place where Tulsidas composed 'Ramacharitramanas'.


Nepali Temple

The temple in Lalita Ghat is called as 'Kathwala temple' or 'Nepali temple'. It was built by the King of Nepal. The architecture resembles the Nepali style of architecture. The temple was built in special wood brought from Nepal.


Dundi Ganesha Temple

Dundi Ganesha temple is actually a tiny temple. The red-colored stone Ganesha idol is installed in a niche on a wall. That is considered as the temple. Although it is very small, this temple is one of the most important temples in Kasi. People visit this temple first and then only go to Vishwanatha temple. This temple is located in the Vishwanatha temple lane.


Vishalakshi Temple

Vishalakshi temple is located near Kasi Vishwanatha temple. It is one of the important sites in the city. Vishalakshi is considered as the consort of Vishwanatha. The temple is built in the temple Dravidian temple architecture style and is managed by South Indians.


BhairavaTemple

The city of Kasi is always associated with Kala Bhairava and the cremation of dead bodies on the banks of the river Ganga. Hence, there is a separate temple dedicated to Bhairava.


Dandapani Temple

Dandapani is the guardian deity of Kasi. The temple dedicated to him is an important one in the city.


Bindu Madhava Temple

Bindu Madhava is another name of Lord Vishnu. The deity is very attractive in this temple.


Sankat Mochan Temple

The temple of Sankat Mochan aka Hanuman is spacious and pleasant. It is one of the important temples of Kasi.


Kedareshwarar Temple

The temple of Kedareshwara (Lord Shiva) which is located on the Kedar Ghat is one of the oldest temples of Varanasi. People who take a dip in the dip do not miss to visit this temple.


Kamakoteeswarar Temple

Kamakoteeswarar temple is built in the typical South Indian temple architecture style. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. A lot of deities are found in this temple.


Durga Temple

Durga temple was built in Nagara architecture style in the 18th century CE. It is one of the important temples of Kasi.


Kaudi Mata Temple

Kaudi is a kind of shell. This temple dedicated to the mother Goddess Kaudi Mata is famous for the tradition of throwing kaudi on the deity.

Happy travelling.

1 comment:

  1. Very useful, we are visiting Varanasi by July and this blog will be our travel guide :)
    Thanks for posting this

    ReplyDelete