Situated along the west bank of the holy River Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the city of Varanasi is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage Trip site that one of the oldest cities in the world. It has risen as a symbol of Hindu rebirth and preserved the traditions and rituals of Hindu philosophy since ancient times.
Millions of pilgrims from distant lands have come here in search of heavenly blessings. Varanasi is lined with Ghats that stretch right across the banks of the Ganga, and branches off into myriad narrow lanes that form an integral part of the city. According to Hindu belief, Benaras or Varanasi as it is well-known is the cosmic centre of the Universe. The city finds mention in the great epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. It was already an old city when Rome was founded, and was a flourishing centre of trade when Buddha came to Sarnath, some 15 km away, to preach his first sermon in 500 B.C.
Varanasi lies between the rivers Varuna and Ashi as they join the Ganges. It is also named Kashi, the city of lights. For a short period it was famous as Muhammadabad while under Mughal rule.
Varanasi has a large number of traveller places to offer to travellers.
The long sequence of ghats in Varanasi are one of the most often sites, where pilgrims bathe for divine purification. There is large number of ghats in the city and each of them is marked by a lingam. Early-morning bathers, Brahmin priests offering puja and people practising meditation and yoga are shared places.
The eighteenth century Durga Temple is also well-known as the Monkey Temple due to the presence of the many monkeys that live here. Durga is symbolized as the embodiment of shakti or female power, clad in red, riding a tiger and fully armed with Shiva's trident, Vishnu's discus and a sword.
This exclusive temple has a huge relief map in marble of the whole of Indian subcontinent and Tibetan plateau installed instead of icons of gods and goddesses
The Alamgir Mosque is also famous as Beni Madhav Ka Darera and is a blend of the Hindu and Mughal styles of the architecture. The mosque was constructed by Aurangzeb on the site of the Vishnu Temple.
This temple is devoted to Lord Rama and is located where the great medieval seer Tulsidas is believed to have lived and written the great epic 'Shri Ramcharitmanas'.
The Banaras Hindu University is one of the oldest educational centres in India which was constructed in 1918. Its campus is spread over six square kilometres and houses the Bharat Kala Bhavan, which has a fine collection of miniature paintings, sculptures from first to fifteenth centuries, old photographs of Varanasi and brocade textiles.
Road: Varanasi has many excursion sites situated nearby. Some of the major cities are listed below.
One of the holiest cities of India, Allahabad stands at the confluence of two of India's holiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna, and is about 130 km from Varanasi. The confluence called the Sangam, is the venue of many sacred fairs and rituals and attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year.
Sarnath is a major Buddhist centre where Buddha preached his communication of the 'middle way' to nirvana after achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya. It is located 15 kilometres from Varanasi and Ashoka erected the Famous Stupa here.
Kushinagar lies about 55 kilometres from Gorakhpur, and is well-known for the Mahaparinirvana (death) of Lord Buddha. The town was once celebrated as the centre of the Malla kingdom and has many stupas and viharas that date back to 240 BC-413 AD.
The Ramnagar Fort with its interesting museum lies a small distance from the Asi Ghat and is worth a visit.
Varanasi is well linked by air to several cities in India. It is on the popular daily traveller service Delhi-Agra-Khajuraho-Varanasi route. Is also has two railway stations, the Kashi and Varanasi Junction, as well as the Cantonment Station for rail travel.
Varanasi is well-known for its Betel Leaf (Paan) and silk saris, which are dream creations of brocade embroidery. Boating in the Ganges and moving around the Ghats is an experience of a lifetime. Summers can be harsh in Varanasi with the temperatures rising up to 44°C, so light cotton clothes are recommended. The monsoon season which starts by July, is high in humidity. Winters, on the other hand are enjoyable with temperatures remaining around 21°C in the day, thought they can touch a low of around 11°C in late December and January. There can also be heavy fog in the early part of the day. October-November and February-March are usually comfortable and sunny.
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