Varanasi – The Abode of Religion and More
“Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together” said Mark Twain once and it truly is the oldest living city in the world. Located on the banks of the sacred river Ganga, Varanasi or Banaras is the Religious capital of India for all those people who come to seek great spiritual eminence in its holy aroma. Also known as the city of Lord Shiva, Varanasi holds a special place in every Hindu’s life. Varanasi being the land of Gods and Goddesses is supposed to bring Moksh or Salvation to the departed souls, which is why people wish to spend their last few days in solace here . Having my roots in Varanasi, I have visited the city each year for 18 years of my life and never this place cease to astonish me with its serenity and beauty.
When in Varanasi, you cannot miss out on visiting the many peaceful temples and serene Ghats which it is so famous for. Though there is a lot of hustle and bustle all around the city, there is a certain kind of peace which you can feel here. The city is full of tourists all the year round. No matter what time of the year you visit the city, you will always find a lot of tourists on the roads of the city.
The Sankat Mochan Temple
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple
There are about 84 Ghats and 23000 temples both big and small in Varanasi alone! The Major Temples being Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Sankat Mochan Temple,Durga Temple, Bharat Mata Mandir and Birla Temple (which is located inside BHU). Sankat Mochan Madir is a temple dedicated to Lord Hamuman and thus has A huge number of monkeys residing in the trees inside and near the temple. As you enter the Temple, you can see the band of monkeys running here and there, climbing trees and what not! But, they are completely harmless. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is probably the most prominent temple as far as I comprehend. Whenever you go there, you can always assure yourself that you will be stuck in a long line for several hours before you finally get to enter inside the temple.
One of the heavenly Ghats of Varanasi
But, having said that, I do not intend to form the image of Varanasi being a completely hindu city. No! Varanasi also has a number of mosques, primary among them being Alamgiri Mosque, Gyanvapi Mosque and Chaukamba Mosque. It is home to a number of muslims living in the city since the time of the Delhi Sultanate.
Home of the Banaras Hindu University, founded by Madan Mohan Malviya, and the Indian Institute of Technology(BHU) which is one of the 16 IIT’s in India. Varanasi proves that it is not only renowned for its temples and spiritual importance but is equally famous for its educational institutions.
Entrance of BHU
Arts/ Crafts/ Culture
Famous for its “Banarasi Sarees” Varanasi has been the inspiration for a number of people who are known for their contribution to Indian Art and Culture throughout the World. Eminent persons like , Kabeer, Tulsidas, Ravidas, Munshi Prenchand, Annie Besant, Madan Mohan Malviya, Bharatendu Harishchandra, Bismillah Khan, Girija Devi, Jaishankar Prasad have all resided here and gained inspiration for their creations which have brought great glory and honour to India. Besides the Ghats and temples, Other eye catching sights include Jantar Mantar, Kabir Math, Sarnath Museum which is the place where after gaining enlightenment, Lord Buddha delivered a sermon to his followers for the first time, Ramnagar Fort which is located opposite to the Tulsi Ghat and is the reservoir of the history of the kings and royals of banaras, Bharat Kala Bhawan and Vindham Falls which are a few kilometres outside the city and are a delightful place to visit during the rainy season. Like all the other cities of Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi also has a wide variety of deliciously mouth-watering street food. I would not be wrong is I say that street food is always way more tempting than restaurant or gourmet food. Varanasi has a whole range of places to eat ranging from small dhabas or street food stalls to big and fancy restaurants and hotels. The city is a combination of both new and old. It is primarily old with a majority of temples and ghats covering most part of the city but also has a good enough quantity of modern day malls, shopping centres and modern styled eateries. Khaste-chole, Jalebi’s and kulladh wala doodh are a must try when you visit banaras.
Bharat Kala Kendra
One of the main attractions of the city include the World renowned Ganga Aarti. It is an experience of a lifetime. One must witness it at least once in a lifetime. Tourists from all around the globe come to Benaras to witness the Ganga Aarti. Various priests perform the ritual which ends, leaving a person full of tranquility and calm.
The beautiful hue of the Ganga Aarti.
Full of exuberance and peace at the same time, Varanasi is truly an incredible city of Incredible India!
About the Author
A resident of the City of Nawabs; Lucknow, Swastika is a typical Lucknowite. Travelling and discovering new places is her passion and if it’s to eat, even better. She prowls around the varied cuisines of the city with friends and family and firmly believes that smallest of places hide the best of gems.
She believes in being a traveller and not a tourist and hence has witnessed the beauty of places, small and big through the eyes of the locals. Her choice of destinations includes those not commonly a part of a typical itinerary. She believes that the beauty of the Indian cities lies in their unique people and traditions and should be known to all. She thus puts her experiences to words hoping that people would connect with them as much as she does. Having friends from different parts of the country as well as outside, she also gets a first-hand knowledge of the life in places she has not yet explored but is craving to!
Swastika is currently pursuing LLB from Amity University Lucknow. Her other interests include cooking, watching movies, social networking, blogging, playing her synthesizer, listening to music and swimming.