Banaras, Kashi or Varanasi is one of the oldest and holiest cities in India. This beautiful city is located on the banks of river Ganga and is dotted with sacred temples, ghats, and holy shrines, making it the perfect choice for a one day local sightseeing tour.
The city of Varanasi is believed to have been discovered by Lord Shiva himself. The city holds immense religious and historical importance. Apart from being a destination flocked by religious tourists, Varanasi also has numerous old age and retirement homes. Some elderly people staunchly believe that spending one’s old age in this holy city guarantees salvation. Varanasi, interestingly, is also one of oldest continually inhabited places in the world!
The narrow lanes of this ancient are lined with temples, food joints, and small shops. You might have also heard people addressing Varanasi as “Galiyon Ka Sheher” – the city of lanes. Varanasi has also been a center of learning for hundreds of years, and its intellectual capabilities find mentions in Hindu mythologies and epics. The famous Banaras Hindu University is the pride of this holy city.
When in Varanasi, one must visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, which is the home to one of the twelve revered Jyotirlingas. However the main attraction of Varanasi the river of the Ganges itself. The evening ritual, called the Ganga Aarti is a must-see, and one must not leave Varanasi without enjoying a boat ride on this holy river! Varanasi is a city thriving with religious, historical and cultural significance and should not be missed out by anyone.
Kal Bhairav Temple is one of the ancient temples of Lord Shiva that can be found in Varanasi. This temple has a strong link with the history and culture of the city. Kal Bhairav Temple is the fiercest form of Lord Shiva. The deity is portrayed as a man wearing garlands made with human skull. It is said that the death itself is afraid of this form of Lord Shiva. It is said that Kal bhairav decides who has to stay in Varanasi and who should not. People of Varanasi get permission from the deity before leaving the town for any reason. Anyone visiting Varanasi should visit the temple first and get permission to enter into Varanasi, according to folklore.
Sarnath is an important Buddhist pilgrim spot. It is the place where Buddha made his first sermon after getting enlightenment.
Later, many kings including King Ashoka built many stupas and monuments that are now a famous tourist attraction and pilgrim spot. In Sarnath, you will be visiting Chaukhandi stupa, archeological museum, Dhamekha stupa and others.
You can find many ancient Aartifacts, terracotta objects and other items inside the museum.
Ramnagar fort is a fortified building made with cream-colored sandstone built in Mughal styled architecture. The fort includes Veda Vyasa temple, Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman temple, museum, big astronomical clock, carved balconies, pavilions, open courtyards, Durbar hall and reception room. The private residence area of the king is not opened for tourists.The museum inside the fort is also called as Sarawati Bhawan. This bhawan was a public audience hall in the past. Today, the museum holds a rare collection of ivory works, vintage cars of America, medieval costumes, gold ornaments, silver works, sedan chairs, palanquins, old guns, elephant saddles and others.There are many books, manuscripts, Mughal miniature illustrated books and others are also found here.
The campus is a semi circle with roads in the form of arcs. The building is an example of ancient Indo-Gothic architecture.
- Shri Vishwanath Mandir : This temple is located in the center of the university. The temple comprises of seven different shrines, whichwere built in the early 20th century. It took 30 years to complete the construction of the temple.
- Bharat Kala Bhavan : An archaeological museum that is famous for ancient Artifacts, wood works, statues and others. There are more than one lakh items in display in this museum
Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple or Sankat Mochan temple is located in the southern part of Varanasi. The temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the monkey God of Hinduism. The term ‘sankatmochan’ refers to reliever of all problems. The temple is also famous for offering made with dal and jaggery, which is given to the visitors. Offering marigold garland to Lord Hanuman is an important pilgrim activity here.
Booklet containing chants of Hanuman and Lord Ram are given free to the visitors. You can find a lot of monkeys inside the temple.The main deity is placed in a direction that Lord Hanuman is found look at Lord Ram located in the same temple. A bright orange powder is given as an offering to the visitors. Worshippers place the offering on their forehead. It is not mandatory.
Durga Temple, Durga Mandir, Durga Kund Mandir and Monkey temple are some of the names for this temple. It is one of the famous temples, which is dedicated to Goddesses Durga. The red colored temple structure is attracting numerous tourists and plenty of pilgrims every day.
The temple has a deity dressed in red color and riding on a tiger. The deity has weapons of all the Gods of Hinduism. Right to the temple, a rectangular pond can be found which is connected to River Ganges. Now, the connection is blocked. During Nag Panchami celebration, a structure representing Lord Vishu resting on Shesh Nag will be erected in the pond.You can find many monkeys in the premises.
Kaudi Mata is considered as a sister to Lord Vishwanath. She is the forest goddess/ Grama Devatha of South India who came to Benares to worship Lord Shiva. People here did not behave well with her. Irked with them, the goddess abandoned food and water.
After this Maa Annapurna Devi came and placed her in the form of Kodiya Devi here. She blessed the goddess who is considered worthless and told that Kaudi/Conch shells which are usually considered worthless will become valuable and will be offered to you. With your good influence, there will be no grief in the Devotee’s life. Without offering Kaudis to you a pilgrim’s Kashi Darshan would be incomplete.