A Guide to Varanasi

As Mark Twain said, “Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”

Varanasi got its name from the two rivers it is situated between, Varuna river and the Assi river, it got other names also like Banaras, Kashi, the one which is very ancient and oldest. Varanasi is full of history from kings to God and from God to Buddha. It’s difficult to know completely about the city, as it’s got too much history, too much that happened here.

As I was on my solo trip, it was another great experience for me, I had booked the hostel near the ghats which were one of the best things, and it’s near many of the places which I planned to go, the best way to travel the city is by auto, as the city is very crowded and there is so much rush near the tourist places, and one can prefer walking if it’s not too far.

About ghats

Talking about ghats, the city got a total of 88 ghats and most of it is between the Varuna and Assi river, of all ghats, there are 9 most important ghats that one must-see are Assi ghat, Chet Singh ghat, Darbhanga ghat, Dashashwamedh ghat, Man Mandir ghat, Manikarnika ghat, Scindia ghat, Bhonsale ghat, Panchganga ghat and of all ghats every ghat got its own purpose.

Its own history, like at Assi ghat people bath there before worshiping Lord Shiva in the form of a huge lingam under a pipal tree, Cheat Singh ghat has historical importance of king Chet Singh who had build a small fort in front of the river and got defeated by Britishers in the 18th century, Darbhanga ghat also got BrijRama Palace which was built by Shridhara Narayana Munshi which is hotel now, and of all ghats, there is Dashashwamedh ghat which is the tourist attractions, the heart of all ghats, one of oldest and holiest Varanasi ghats, it’s famous because of the grand aarti which takes place every day at 6 pm in the evening,

Ganga Aarti

it’s like if you are visiting Varanasi then it’s must to attend ganga aarti, one can find people from different places, different country wating to see the aarti and enjoying the Hindu tradition, one of the best moments you can get here at the time of aarti, one can book the boat also and get this amazing view of the aarti, another very old ghat of Varanasi Man mandir ghat which got a beautiful Palace which was built by Rajput king Man Singh in 16th century, then there is Manikarnika ghat where Hindu burn the death one so that it will librate them from the cycle of death and life, one would get horrified for the first time as I did, as I came face to face with death and life, there are many bodies burned everyday, approx 28000 every year, there is death ceremony that take place, one can watch if someone is bold enough to watch, Scindia ghat is one of the peaceful ghat which has half submerged Shiva Temple at the edge of water, it got sunk during the construction of ghat in 1830, there is another ghat Bhonsale ghat which was built by Maratha king Bhonsale of Nagpur in 1730, at the far northern end of the ghats, Panchganga Ghat gets its name from the merging of five rivers (the Ganges, Yamuna, Saraswati, Kirana ,and Dhutpapa). The best time to visit is at the time of Dev Diwali, its like heaven, all the diyas buring all over the ghats from the evenings till nights, people enjoying the moment, it’s like something one must see in lifetime, then there is this great great grand aarti which take place at that day specially, and there so much crowd that people book boats 2-3 months before so they can get the front view of the aarti, it’s just beautiful.

Kashi
Ganga Aarti at Varanasi

Night view of ghats

On common days also at night one would love to have walk beside the river enjoying the glorious view, winds passing by, people enjoying the nightlife of ghats, chatting with there friends and family, and also in morning at the time of sunrise one can go to the ghat and get a boat ride, as sunrise in front of the river, the view is adorable, and chirping of birds, people praying, talking baths, starting of a day, everything is worth it.

Streets of Khasi

There are as my streets that one can get lost easily as if you are new, it’s good to be careful as there are many small streets near the ghats which connects from one place to another,

Streets of Kashi

one can also get as there are many good food stalls on these streets where one can get amazing food likes chaat, pani puri, lassi, mishti, kachori and all, and also Banaras is also famous for its Banarasi paan, so one must try it, there are also many shopping shops on the street, as for which its famous, the Banarasi silk saree, they are famous all over India, and going through the streets of Kashi you can get to the old Kashi Viswanath Temple as, if Kashi is at the heart of Hinduism, then Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the heartbeat of this godly land and. This divine sanctuary is one of the holiest lands that are known to exist in the country, devoted to Lord Shiva, this temple is frequented by throngs of Hindus every day to just see the shivling and the temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of ShivaTemples. There is also this new Kashi Viswanath temple inside the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), one can get there easily, it’s near Assi ghat and also one can walk inside the campus as it’s beautiful. There is another famous temple known as Sankat Mochan dedicated to Hindu God Hanuman.

Sankat Mochan

The temple was established by famous Hindu preacher and poet-saint Sri Goswami Tulsidas in the early 16th century. Every day, especially on Tuesday huge crowd, comes for the blessings and it got so big line that it takes so much time for one to get in front of the Hanuman Murti.

Ramnagar Fort

Ramnagr fort is a fortification in Ramnagr, Varanasi, India. It was built by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh in 1750,

Ramnagar Fort

located beside the Ganga river, 2km from BHU, it got a museum which is also one of the tourist’s attraction, as there is a rare collection of ivory work belonging of King is kept like vintage cars of America, medieval costumes, gold ornaments, silver works, sedan chairs, palanquins, old guns. The fort contains a rare clock, which shows time, day, week, month and astronomical details about the position of planets, moon and the sun and now the current King Anant Narayan Singh resides in the fort, he has donated many of his territories for the welfare of the Varanasi. Hindu religion famous book Mahabharata was written here by Veda Vyas in a temple named after him Vyasa temple, as in India we celebrate Guru Purnima dedicated to the Vyasa.

Sarnath

This place is devoted to Gautam Buddha, as he was born here, the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon to a group of five disciples at this location to tell them about how to follow the middle path that leads to “Nirvana”. This place was built by Emperor Ashoka in dedication to Lord Buddha, it is located 10km from the city center and on can get here easily by auto from the Railway Station or by booking a cab. Here people from all over the world come to see as it’s a tourist place and also a place to worship Lord Buddha, people who believe in Buddha come here for the enlightenment, there is also Damekh Stupa built at Maurya times,

Damekh Stupa

best to visit here at the time of Buddha Purinma, it’s like a big festival here. There is also a museum near the temple which contains very ancient sculptures which I don’t know how it would have made at that time, there is so much information written regarding each sculpture that one can take one day to be here, and it’s really interesting,

Sarnath Museum

but the thing is we Hindu don’t believe in Buddha, as he was born here, I don’t know why but all around the world there are so many who believe in Buddhism like there is this country, Cambodia whose 97 population believe in Buddhism and many more countries.

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