The serene town having more than 23000 temples, residing on the banks of the river Ganga is the holiest among the seven sacred cities for the Hindus and Jains. It is one of the oldest cities which has been persistently colonized in the the world. This poetic place is also known as Benaras or Kashi. It is believed that Buddhism originated in this surreal town around 528 BC when Buddha gave his first preaching in Sarnath, a place 10 kilometres away from the city.
Located on the northern shores of Ganga surrounded by its two tributaries, Varuna and Assi, hence called Varanasi. It has evolved as an important industrial center known for its silk fabric, ivory works, muslin, and sculpture.
Ghats of Varanasi
This holy town has more than 87 ghats which subside towards the rivers. Moreover, these ghats are linked with tales and mythologies.
Assi Ghat–Where the Ganga meets the river Assi. Although it isn’t a very popular site but is very important for the Hindus as the devotees bathe here before worshiping.
Dashshwamedh Ghat– It is one of the oldest and the most important ghats. The Ganga Aarti ritual also takes place here every evening. Lined with worshipers, beggars, and people watching the ceremony, this ghat is always crowded.
Manikarnika Ghat– A major location of Hindu cremation in the city. It lies in the center of the five tirthas, this ghat symbolizes creation and destruction.
Scindia Ghat– Also known as the Shinde ghat, it is famous for the most remarkable places of worship. Itis the best ghat to go and have a session of morning meditation because of its soothing and clean environment.
Even though it is difficult to explore all the ghats of Varanasi, the ones mentioned above have something or the other significant and is popular among the tourists.
Every evening at the Dashashwamedh Ghat priests, devotees and hundreds of people swarm up for the aarti. The aarti starts after the sunset, facing towards the river where huge lamps are lit decorated with flowers surrounded by the priests. This a very fascinating ritual which you might want to attend every evening till you’re in Varanasi.
Estimated to have more 2300 temples, they can’t be missed while visiting this town.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple– This temple has been destroyed and reconstructed many times in the history of this town. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga Shiva temples of Kashi.
Also known as the Golden Temple, numerous aartis and rituals take place here every day.
The Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple– Standing by the river Assi, it is one of the most sacred temples of the Hindu God Hanuman. According to Hindu mythology, this temple was built, on the spot where Tulsidas had a vision of Lord Hanuman.
Parshvanath Jain Temple– Situated in Belapur, about 3 miles from Benaras, it is a very holy pilgrimage center which belongs to the Jains.
Mosques in Varanasi
Although there are a number of mosques in this eccentric city, few of them are quite significant.
The Gyanvapi Mosque– Built by Aurangzeb, a Mughal emperor subsequently, after destroying a Hindu temple. A few remains of the old Hindu temple are also seen in the interiors of this mosque.
The Alamgiri Mosque– Also built by Aurangzeb in the 17th Century over the ruins of another Hindu temple. This mosque resides at a very prominent site, i.e. the Panchganga Ghat, the epitaphic ghat facing Ganga.
A blend of Islamic and Hindu architecture, as the lower walls of the mosque are completely built with the remains of the temple. It also has big domes and tall minarets.
Art in Varanasi
A manufacturer of silk and tapestry with gold and silver thread work, wooden toys, glass bangles, perfumes, and so much more you’ll find here. Being the center of arts and designs, this place has given birth to so many notable artists like, Ravi Shankar an Indian musician, Siddhewari Devi a legendary Hindustani singer, and many more.
When you visit this city you will know that all of this keeps this town vibrant and highly-spirited. The best time to visit this sacred town is during the winter season, even though it gets justly cold in the winter months, this is the best time you can explore this religious city.