Located: Uttar Pradesh In North India, on the bank of the river Ganga
Best Buys: Benarasi Silk Sarees, Silk Brocades
Majore Touris Atttraction: Bathing Ghats, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Bharat Mata Mandir
Varanasi, or Benaras, is also known as Kashi is one of the oldest living cities in the world. According to the 'Vamana Purana', the Varuna and the Assi rivers originated from the body of the primordial Person at the beginning of time itself. The tract of land lying between them is believed to be 'Varanasi', the holiest of all pilgrimages. The word 'Kashi' originated from the word 'Kas' which means to shine. Steeped in tradition and mythological legacy, Kashi is the 'original ground ' created by Shiva and Parvati, upon which they stood at the beginning of time. Varanasi is the microcosm of Hinduism, a city of traditional classical culture, glorified by myth and legend and sanctified by religion , it has always attracted a large number of pilgrims and worshippers from time immemorial. To be in Varanasi is an experience in itself.. an experience in self-discovery. an eternal oneness of the body and soul.
To every visitor; Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience. The rays of the dawn shimmer -ing across the Ganges. the high-banks ; the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue .soul stirring hymns and mantras alongwith the fragrance of incense filling the air.
The great Buddha enhanced the sanctity of Varanasi by choosing the environs of the city to preach his first sermon at Sarnath, (only 10 kms away) after attaining enlightenment.Later, Ashoka, the great Mauryan Emperor erected magnificent stupas and other buildings alongwith his mighty stone pillar, Dharmarajika Stupa. The 110 ft. tall Damekh Stupa marks the place where Buddha preached first sermon.Sarnath has been a premier centre for Buddhism.It is a rich collection of ancient Buddhist relics and antiques comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisatva images on display at the Archaeological Museum (1000 hrs to 1700 hrs. Open all days except Friday).
Banaras is reknowned for art of silk weaving, an exotic work of art which manifests itself in precious Banarasi Silk Sarees and Silk brocades which are cherished as collector's items across the world today.
Varanasi A SHOPPER`S PARADISE
Handicrafts of Varanasi Varanasi is famous for it silk weaving, and Banarsi silk are a part of every Silk Sareesgril's trousseau. Banaras brocades are prized the world over. Brassware, Copperware, Wooden ,Clay toys and Exquisite gold jewellery are some of the other crafts the city is famous for. The hand-knotted carpets Mirzapur and Bhadohi and musical instruments are among the other shopping attractions. Banaras is also famous for its 'Langda Aam', a variety of mangoes available in the summer. Betel life is also a speciality. The main shopping areas are Chowk, Vishwanath Gali, Thatheri Bazar, Lahurabir, Godoulia, Dashswamedh Gail, Golghar and Dalmandi.
Pilgrims of Varanasi
Pilgrims flock the Ghats to have a ritual bath and perform puja to the rising sun, following centuries old tradition. The Dasashvamedh Ghat offers a splendid view of the river front. This is the ghat of the 10 (Das) horses (shiva) sacrificed (medh). Legend has it that it was performed by Brahma to pave way for Shiva's return to Varanasi after a spell of banishment. A sight that has remained unchanged and unspoilt-by time, wars or even man himself. Other special ghats are the Asi, Barnasangam, Panchganga and Manikarnika, Ghats.
From their vantage point at the northern extremity of the Kaimur Hills, the impressive sandstone battlements of Chunar command a meander in the Ganga before the river curves north to Varanasi 22 km. away. Evidence of the earliest occupation of the site dates it to Vikramaditya of Ujjain in 56 BC. Chunar sandstone has been used for centuries, most famously in Ashokan pillars - and is still quarried, leaving the surrounding hills looking ravaged in places.
Ghat on the River GangesKashi Vishwanath Temple and Gyanvapi Mosque: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple
has earned the name of Golden Temple due to the gold plating done using one ton of gold donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh on its 15.5-m high spire. Aurangzeb destroyed the Vishvanath temple to replace it with the Gaynvapi Mosque. However, one can still see the remnants of the temple in the intricate and fine artwork of the western wall of the mosque.
The 8th century Durga temple is built in Nagara Style and is one of the most important temples of the city.
Built in Nepali style by the King of Nepal on Lalita Ghat, it is also known as the Kathwala temple because of the magnificent woodwork. It is said to be incomparable to any other temple in India. It is said that the workers and the wood was imported from Nepal to build this temple and the its specialty is that termites do not eat the wood used to construct it.