Known as India’s most sacred city, Varanasi is situated on the western bank of the holy river Ganga. It is also the oldest living city in the world. As a place for devotion and worship, with hundreds of temples dotting the city, sunrise on the river front as seen from a boat can be a spiritually uplifting sight. It has a fascination uniquely its own, a quality of sublime beauty, a timeless eternal appeal.
How to reach Varanasi :
Varanasi is the easily reachable city by all the means and well connected by all the cities through the airplane, train, bus and car.
By Train : It is the easiest means to reach to the Varanasi from any city such as Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, etc. Almost all the trains of Northern Eastern Railway (NER) pass through the Mughal Sarai Junction that is just 17 kilometer from the Varanasi Junction. However Varanasi Junction itself is a huge station and almost all major trains go to Varanasi Junction.
By Bus : Buses are also the convenient means of traveling to the Varanasi from the nearest city. You can choose buses of the state government or private buses.
By Air : The city has an International Airport which makes the traveling through the plane very convenient. Some of the special flights are Indian Airlines, Jet Airways/JetLite and SpiceJet which provides best transport services.
See Varanasi, one of the world’s oldest living cities, on a 2-night trip from New Delhi! Enjoy a morning and evening boat ride on the Ganges River and marvel at the Ghats, stone steps leading to the riverbank used for centuries by devotees as bathing and cremation sites. You’ll learn about India’s three ancient religious traditions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism – as you walk through Varanasi’s old city with an expert guide.
Varanasi Holiday / Tour Packages
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Visiting place :
Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum Bharat Kala Bhavan is an art and architecture museum situated inside the BHU campus. Here, one can find a large number of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures, paintings and other materials of archaeological relevance.
This Bhavan was founded in 1920 A.D. In its main hall, there is a figure of a man standing on one leg, holding one hand on his hip and lifting a mass of stone above his head with the other hand.
It is believed that this figure is of Lord Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana. Most of the images in this Bhavan ascertain the presence of Krishna cult in Kashi during the 15th and 16th century.
Shri Kashi Vishwanath Mandir The history of Vishwanath Temple that is also called Golden Temple at times is full of ups and downs. The temple and city has always been on the receiving end of the invaders be it Afghans, Turks, Rohila or Marathas. The temple has been built and razed to the ground several times in the history. It was first destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji in the 13th century and was later rebuild. Emperor Akbar donated several acres of villages to the trust that was later cut down substantially by Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb was a fundamentalist who hated every possible religion and sects in India including Sufi and Shiite order among the Muslims. Rani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore built the present temple that stands in Varanasi, in the year 1776. Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore donated the 800-kilogram Gold-plating of the towers that gives the temple its colloquial name. Aarti in Kashi Vishwanath Temple Mangala Aarti Bhog Aarti Sandhya Aarti Shringar Aarti Shayan Aarti 03.00-04.00 (morning) 11.15-02.20 (day) 07.00-08.15 (evening) 09.00-10.15 (night) 10.30-11.00 (night).
Durga Temple Durga-temple The Durga temple is considered one of the most important temples in Varanasi. Built in 18th century the Durga temple is stained in Red with ochre. Though the temple might have Bangla influence spiritually, it is built exclusively on the North Indian pattern called Nagara. Multi-tired spires that decrease in diameter in horizontal pattern mark this style. Actually separate spires are clubbed together one over another to give this feel. Though this style looks less attractive than the South-Indian Gopuram pattern, it has a feel of its own. Lately, people have started calling it Monkey Temple due to the menace created by the monkeys that inhabit the campus of this Temple.
Sankat Mochan Temple Sankat Mochan Mandir do not have much historical significance but is a good place to visit at least once. No body knows who established this temple. It was actually very small in its early phase. In the due course various ‘Mahants’ collected funds to upgrade the structure and today it boasts off a fairly large complex. The temple has every possible facility for the devotees. There is an inn too where devotees can stay overnight. The must attend religious function of this temple is the famous “Pratah Aarti” or dawn offering that takes place at 5 AM in the morning. The “Sandhya Aarti” or the evening offering is performed to Lord Sankat Mochan at around 8:30 in the night. “The Rathri Aarti” is performed at around 10 PM after which the gates are closed.
Tulsi Manas Temple Tulsi Manas Temple has a very historical as well as cultural importance for not only Varanasi but also for the whole of India. This is precisely because the place is connected to an event that still rules the Indian Psyche. The famous Hindu Epic of Ramayana was composed at this very place. Goswami Tulsi Das was the man who composed Ramayana in Hindi in the form of “Ram Charit Manas”. Prior to that, Ramayana was only available in Sanskrit and that is why it was out of the reach of general masses.
Annapurna Temple The Goddess Annapurna is looked upon as the provider of food and the sustainer of prosperity. Legend has it that Shiva made an agreement with Goddess Annapurna that she look after life before death, ensuring that no one went hungry in the sacred city, while he would ensure they received moksha (freedom from the cycle of birth & death).
Mahamritunjay Temple Sakshi Vinayaka Temple About 56 temples dedicated to Lord Ganesha, spread all over the city; some of them are Sakshi Vinayaka Temple, Sidda Vinayaka, Manikarnika Ghat, Kark Vinayaka, Lalak Kund, Bhadeni, Durga Vinayaka, Abhayapad Vinayaka, Sakchhi Vinayaka. Ganesha – the elephant-deity riding a mouse – has become one of the commonest mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. This not only suggests the importance of Ganesha, but also shows how popular and pervasive this deity is in the minds of the masses.
Bharat Mata Temple The Bharat Mata temple at Varanasi is the only temple dedicated to Mother India. It is located in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth campus. The Bharat Mata temple was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936. The statute of Bharat Mata is built in marble and is a model of undivided India, depicting the mountains, plains and oceans. The most peculiar thing about the Bharat Mata Temple is that instead of the customary gods and goddesses, it houses a relief map of India, carved out of marble.
10 km. from Varanasi is the site where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon “Maha- Dharma-Chakra Pravartan” (in Buddhist terminology, ‘turned the wheel of the law’) after his enlightenment. Sarnath is one of the richest in Buddhist antiquities ranging in date from the times of Ashoka downto the 12th century A.D Ashoka built here the Dharmarajika Stupa and near it erected a pillar surmounted by the magnificent capital of four adorsed Lions, which today forms the national emblem of India.Among other structures at Sarnath are the ruins of the brick temple representing the Mula- Gandha Kuti, ruins of stupas and monasteries. Among the more imposing ones is the Dhamekh Stupa, adorned with delicate floral carvings in the lower part, the Chaukhandi Stupa and Mahabodhi Society’s Mulgandha Kuti Vihar Temple. Sarnath has also yielded an extremely rich collection of Buddhist sculptures comprising of numerous Buddha and Bodhisatva images which can be seen at Archaeological Museum, Sarnath.
Ramnagar Fort :
Located near Ganges river on its eastern bank, Ramnagar fort is a structure in Varanasi built in 1750 by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh. The architecture of this fort is a blend of Indian and Islamic style. During Dussehra, the fort and its surroundings are decorated magnificently and it’s certainly worth a visit.
Chunar Fort :
The Chunar fort is situated in the Vindhya Range at a distance of about 45 odd km from Varanasi. The Chunar fort is located in the Mirzapur district. According to the Puranas the oldest name of Chunar was Charanadri as Lord Vishnu had taken his first step in his Vaman incarnation in the dynasty of Great king Bali. However Chunar came into prominence after the visit of Babar followed by Shershah Suri, Humayun, Akbar, Aurangzeb and finally the Britishers.It is said that Maharaja Vikramaditya, the king of Ujjain established the fort of Chunar. According to the Alha Khand, King Sahadeo made this fort as his capital and established the statue of Naina Yogini in a cave of Vindhya hill. To commemorate his victory on 52 rulers, King Sahadeo built a stone umbrella inside the fort.
The Chunar fort became important for its association with the Mughal king, Babar and later Shershah Suri, who got the possession of the fort by marrying the wife of Taj Khan Sarang-Khani, the Governer of Ibrahim Lodi. In 1531 AD Humayun made an unsuccessful effort to capture this fort but later in 1574AD, Akbar the great captured this fort and since that very time it remained under the Mughals up to 1772AD. In the year 1772AD the East India Company captured the Chunar fort.
Varanasi is a renowned centre for silk weaving and brass ware. Fine silks, brocades, exquisite saris, brassware, jewelry, woodcraft, carpets, wall hangings, lamp shades and masks of Hindu and Buddhist deities, etc. can be bought here. Be careful, however, while buying silk saris because duplicates are much cheaper than the real silk ones, but are not easy to distinguish.Silk weaving is perhaps the most popular art of Varanasi and Banarasi silk sarees form an indispensable part of an Indian bride’s trousseau. The world-famous gold and silver brocades and richly worked saris are known to have passed on from generations to generations much like family jewels without loosing their charm. Besides Banarasi saris and brocades, you may look for wonderful pieces of brassware, copperware, wooden and clay toys and antique designs of heavy gold jewellery in Varanasi.Other shopping attractions of Varanasi include the hand-knotted carpets of Mirzapur, musical instruments, the ‘khatta-meetha’ (sweet ‘n’ sour) ‘Langda Aam’, a popular variety of mangoes available during summer season and the famous betel leaf that is considered a specialty of the place. Benarasi people can be seen chewing betel leaves as a part of their cultural upbringing and they even welcome their guests by offering them the famous betel leaves.
Bottled ‘Ganga jal’ (water from Holy Ganga river) can also be bought for religious purposes.