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Indian Pilgrimage » Varanasi

About Varanasi

The land of Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Often referred to as Benares, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world. These few lines by Mark Twain say it all: "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together". Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the origins of Varanasi are yet unknown. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals.

Ganges is said to have its origins in the tresses of Lord Shiva and in Varanasi, it expands to the mighty river that we know of. The city is a center of learning and civilization for over 3000 years. With Sarnath, the place where Buddha preached his first sermon after enlightenment, just 10 km away, Varanasi has been a symbol of Hindu renaissance. Knowledge, philosophy, culture, devotion to Gods, Indian arts and crafts have all flourished here for centuries. Also a pilgrimage place for Jains, Varanasi is believed to be the birthplace of Parsvanath, the twenty-third Tirthankar.

Vaishnavism and Shaivism have co-existed in Varanasi harmoniously. With a number of temples, Mrs. Annie Besant chose Varanasi as the home for her 'Theosophical Society' and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, to institute 'Benares Hindu University, the biggest University in Asia. Ayurveda is said to be originated at Varanasi and is believed to be the basis of modern medical sciences such as Plastic surgery, Cataract and Calculus operations. Maharshi Patanjali, the preceptor of Ayurveda and Yoga, was also affiliated with Varanasi, the holy city. Varanasi is also famous for its trade and commerce, especially for the finest silks and gold and silver brocades, since the early days.

Varanasi has also been a great center of learning for ages. Varanasi is associated with promotion of spiritualism, mysticism, Sanskrit, yoga and Hindi language and honored authors such as the ever-famous novelist Prem Chand and Tulsi Das, the famous saint-poet who wrote Ram Charit Manas. Aptly called as the cultural capital of India, Varanasi has provided the right platform for all cultural activities to flourish. Many exponents of dance and music have come from Varanasi. Ravi Shankar, the internationally renowned Sitar maestro and Ustad Bismillah Khan, (the famous Shehnai player) are all sons of the blessed city or have lived here for major part of their lives.

Attractions of Varanasi

The Ghats Of Varanasi

In this ancient city of pilgrimage, the bathing ghats are main attraction. People flock here in large numbers every day to take bath and worship in the temples built beside the river bank. Centuries old tradition to offer puja to the rising Sun is still maintained.

St. Mary's Church

Situated in the cantonment area of Benaras (Varanasi) the St. Mary's Church has a low tower, spire and projecting poitico. Instead of windows tile, church has louvred doors to the sides and hooded ventilation slots beneath the cornice.

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple / Gyanvapi Mosque

This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is popularly known as the golden Temple due the Gold plating done on its 15.5 meter high spire. One tonne of gold donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been used in the gold plating of the spire. The temple was destroyed in the various invasions and was rebuilt in 1776 by Rani Ahilyabai of Indore.

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.

Durga Temple

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.

Climate

Situated in Uttar Pradesh, in northern part of India, Varanasi is located on the banks of the holy river, Ganges. During 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. In Varanasi, the climatic conditions are most favorable for the tourists between October to April. For those who are ready to face a sun and don't mind the odor of sweat, Varanasi is a place to visit all the year round.

Transportation

Varanasi is the cultural capital of India and the melting pot of Indian civilization. Varanasi or Benaras has a well-developed transport network and is well connected to all the major Indian cities and states by air, road and rail.

  • Air: aranasi 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. Apart from the state owned Indian Airlines, there are many private air taxi operators that offer their services from Varanasi to other Indian cities. In fact, the daily flights on Delhi-Agra-Khajuraho-Varanasi route are quite popular among the tourists.
  • Rail: Since Varanasi lies in the heartland of the North Indian plains, it is well connected to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and other parts of India. There are two railway stations in Varanasi, the Kashi Junction and the Varanasi Junction (also known as Varanasi Cantonment). Rajdhani Express from Delhi or from Calcutta passes through Varanasi too. One can also catch trains from Mughalsarai, just 10 km south of Varanasi.
  • Road: Varanasi, on (National Highway) NH2 from Calcutta to Delhi, NH7 to Kanya Kumari and NH29 to GoraKhpur is connected literally to the rest of the country by good motorable, all – weather roads. Some important road distances are: Agra 565 km., Allahabad 128 km., Bhopal 791 km., Bodhgaya 240 km., Kanpur 330 km., Khajuraho 405 km., Lucknow 286 km., patna 246 km., Sarnath 10 km., Lumbini (Napal) 386 km., Kushi Nagar 250 km. (via Gorkhpur), UPSRTC Bus Stand, Sher Shah Suri Marg, Golgadda Bus Stand.
  • Local Transport: Taxis: Private taxis are available from travel agencies, hotels, etc., auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and Tempos are also readily available.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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