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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- Local Transport: Taxis:
Private taxis are available from travel
agencies, hotels, etc., auto rickshaws,
cycle rickshaws and Tempos are also readily