Banares is older than history, older than
tradition, older even than legend...and looks twice as old as all of these
-- Mark Twain
With the rays of the dawn shimmering across the Holy Ganges, the stepped banks, and revered shrines along the banks are bathed in a golden hue as soul stirring hymns and mantras pierce the morning calm, and every heart pulsates with the fragrance of incense filling the air..for holidayers to Varanasi, it is a physical journey to Lord Shivas earthly abode, a sacred destination where salvation of the soul is an irrefutable promise. Famed as one of the oldest living cities in the world, Varanasi, is glorified by myth and legend, and sanctified by religion. It is the place where Adi Shankaracharya taught, Hieun Tsang travelled and the Gahadavala dynasty thrived upto the 12th century. The holy city known as Banaras or Kashi, is a microcosm of Hinduism, a city of classical culture and modern faith. Caressing a rich tradition of art and craft, music and as a centre of learning, Varanasi is also famous for its silk weaving industry the Banarasi silk saree and silk brocades. Come, carve a distinct spiritual heart for yourself.
Famous Varanasi Temple
The whole world of Varanasi together with the lifestyle
of the people revolve around the sacred waters of river Ganga, the ghats
personating as a natural supplement to the concept of divinity. The
spectacular 4 km sweep of the Ghats is a unique sight, best viewed at
dawn, in the soft first light, when the river drenching the feet of these
solitary stairs have a timeless appeal. Hire a boat from the most famous
Dashashwamedha Ghat, and splurge on a unique tour that defines the true,
yet spiritual heart of India. Near the Hanuman Ghat, one stumbles across
Rani Lakshmibais (the famed woman warrior who sacrificed her life
during Indias first war of Independence) place of birth. Across the
Ganges is the Ramnagar Fort where one can admire the antique car
collection of the Maharajah. This 17th century palace was the home of the
Maharaja of Varanasi and has a temple and a museum within the grounds.
On exploration through its labyrinthine gullies (streets), one is bound to stumble upon some part of history. Varanasi is also a curious collection of architectural designs. Still today, the city is dotted with colossal houses, standing high but without a calling bell..Instead they are equipped with long ropes that extend their arms to a bell which serves the purpose. Next head for Vishwanath Gali for a pushcart breakfast of piping hot kachoris and delicious jalebis. At the end of the gali towers the golden-domed Kashi Vishwanath Temple, built by Rani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in 1776. The original lingam (phallic symbol) is believed to be resting in the Gyan Vapi Well nearby. The presiding deity of this city is Shiva, the lord of dance and music (Natraja). Naturally, the city worships him with taals, songs and dance. Some of the world renowned exponents India has produced in these fields were schooled in Varanasis cultural ethos. Tourists can also visit the house of Ustaad Bismillah Khan, the revered Shahnai player of India, who expired a few years back.
Spare out some time to visit the Banaras Hindu University, an internationally reputed temple of learing and a renowned abode of world famous scholars. The university which played a major role in the Independence movement, today has developed into one of the greatest centres of learning in India. Come the evening, absolutely dont miss the aarti at Dashashwamedha Ghat. The whole place pulsates with the shimmering light of earthen lamps and the unsurpassable aroma of camphor and incense sticks, a real experience to behold. Varanasi is also the centre for yoga, ayurveda, meditation and astrology, and you can run into any master, anywhere..anytime. during your stay in Kashi, plan a visit to Sarnath, renowned worldwide for ancient remains of Buddhist stupas, monasteries and temples. Nestling at a distance of 6 km to the north of the city, Sarnath is a nice place to dive into the womb of Buddhism.
Varanasi Silk Shop
Varanasi abounds in the art of sillk weaving, brocades which are cherished as collectors items across the world today. Adorn yourself in exclusive varieties of exquisite saarees which are made of silk warp and silk weft, on plain/satian ground base, brocaded with extra weft patterns in different layouts. If you can bargain, visit the shops in Vishwanath Gali. For fixed rates, shop at the UP Handloom and UPICA, the state runned shopper stops. After a hectic shopping day, splurge on a delicious course of aloo-puri and pithi-ki-kachori. Jalyog on Dashashwamedha Road is legendary for its samosas and puris. You will salivate over Kashi-ka-laddu and Rabri. Finally, pop a melt-in-your-mouth Benarasi paan, a bite youll never forget.
Varanasi, being one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, is well connected to all parts of the country. Most national airlines operate to Varanasi. The nearest airport is at Babatpur, 23 km from Kashi city. You will get multiple plying options and it takes around half-an-hour to reach the downtown. Of Varanasis three stations, Varanasi Cantt and Mughal Sarai are best connected to Delhi. NH 2 links Varanasi to Delhi (809 km), but its not a good drive because of heavy truck and commercial traffic. However, a seven day boat ride from Allahbad to Varanasi is highly recommended. Tourist taxis are available at the airport, railway station, prominent centres in the city, especially Cantt. area, and through hotels and agencies. The rates for these are negotiable. Auto-rickshaws, unmetered are a more popular mode of transport. The rates for these too, are negotiable and they are found all over the city. Vehicular traffic is not allowed at the roads leading to Dashashwamedh and other ghats for most part of the day. Around the ghats, walking may often be the fastest mode of commuting as traffic jams are common.
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Varanasi
Visit The Gateway To Salvation
World Famous Varanasi Ghats
The Elegant Vishwanath Temple
The Amazing Aarti At Dashashwamedha Ghat
Chew A Banarasi Paan While Shopping
Glorious Golden Triangles (I & II)
Delhi : Capital of Hearts
Jaipur : The
Power and Valor of Rajputs
Pradesh : Ecstasy in Hills
Chandigarh : Tradition