Banaras is Older Than History
Varanasi, popularly known as Benaras and mentioned as ‘Kashi’ in scriptures, has a glittering history of yore. One of the greatest pilgrimage, it is situated on the banks of holy river Ganga. It is strongly believed that a dip in its holy waters washes away the sins and purifies the soul. The unique combination of Kashi – the gateway to ‘Moksha’, Ganga – the celestial river and Lord Shiva – the supreme God makes this city the most sacred and ultimate pilgrimage destination. Enthralled by its mythological legacy and traditions, Mark Twin complimented Varanasi as “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, even older than legend and look twice as old as all of them put together.”
Varanas has always been a great cultural center. Since old days it has been the centre of learning, especially of Religion, Philosophy, Yoga, Ayurveda and Astrology. This city has been associated with great personalities. The galaxy of luminaries include Swamy Ramanad, Kabirda,s Ravidas, Tulsidas, Vallabhacharya, Panditraj, Jagannath, Bhartendu Harishchand, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, Munshi Prem Chand, Babu Shyam Sundar Das, Rai Shri Krishna Das, Baburao Vishnu Pradkar, Jai Shankar Prasad, Acharya Ram Chandra Shukla, Dr. Sampoornanand, Acharya Hajari Prasad Dwivedi, Ustad Bismillah Khan and many others. Some of the most renowned exponents of classical music and dance hail from Varanasi, such as Gudai Maharaj, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Samta Prasad, Girja Devi, Kanthey Maharaj, Kishan Maharaj etc. Banarasi silk sarees and brocades are are cherished as collectors’ item.
What to See in Vanarasi-
River Front (Ghats)
Varanasi is the city of Temples, Ghats, Kunds and Galies (narrow lanes). The spectacular long sweep of Ghats on the holy Ganga is unique and creates a fascinating sight. Varanasi has approx 90 Ghats and Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main Ghat and one of the oldest in Varanasi on the bank of Ganges River, here boats are available on hire. Evening Ganga Aarti is an added attraction here.
The Other Prominent Ghats of Vanaras & Their Attractions:
Assi Ghat: famous for Lord Jagannath Temple, Saint Tulsidas Temple.
Tulsi Ghat: Saint Tulsidasji worte here the immortal epic Shri Ram Charitmanas-his house-old manuscripts, Lord Hanuman Temple, Birth place of Rani Laxmi Bai and Lolark Kund.
Chet Singh Ghat: Chet Singh Fort.
Hanuman Ghat: Lord Hanuman Temple, Mahaprabhuji Temple, Rudra Bhairav Temple, Ram-Parivar Temple.
Harish Chandra Ghat: Associated with mythological king Harish Chandra, cremation site, Kashi Kamkotishwar Temple.
Kedar Ghat: Kedareshwar Temple, Ganga-Dattatreya-Vithal Temples.
Sheetla Ghat: Goddess Sheetla Temple, Ganga-Dattatreya-Vitthal Temples.
Dashashamedha Ghat: Ganga Aarti and Budhwa Mangal festival site, Ganga Temple, boats can be hired here.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Ghat: Ganga Mahotsav and other cultural fair site.
Man Mandir Ghat: observatory.
Lalita Ghat: Nepal Temple.
Manikarnika Ghat: Cremation site, Haveli of Dom Raja.
Sindhia Ghat: Goddess Sankatha Temple, Vaikuntha Madhav Temple, Dattatreya Temple.
Panch Ganga Ghat: Ramananda Math, Shri Sansthan Math, Satyabhama Math, Tailang Swamy Math, Baithak of Vallabhacharyaji, Bindu Madav Temple, Ram Panchayatan Temple, Kangan Haveli, Deepmalika stand.
Ghai Ghat: Nepal Place, Lakshmi-Narayan, Gauri Temple.
Prahlad Ghat: Nrishing Temple, Jagannath Temple, Prahaladeshwer Temple, Sheetala Temple.
Badri Narayan Ghat: Lord Badri Narayan Temple
Raj Ghat: Shri Satsang Parivar Vyayamshala, Saint Ravidas Temple, Bhainsasur Temple
Adi Kesava Ghat: Adi Keshav Temple, Gyankeshava Temple, Sangameshwar Temple, Vinayak Temple, Panchdevata Temple, Durga Temple & Kund.
Varanasi is also known for its Kunds, important among them are Pishachmochan Kund, Karna Ghanta Kund, Pitar Kund, Lolark Kund, Lakshmi Kund, Kurushetra Kund, Pushkar Kund, Durga Kund, Krim Kund, Lanka Kund.
Temples of Varanasi
Goddess Annapurna Temple
Near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple stands this important temple ofo Goddess Annapurna. The temples of Lord Kuber & Surya are also situated within its premises. It was built in 1725 by Peshwa Baji Rao I, the Marathe chieftain. The temple is famous for its Dhanteras and Annakoot festivals. Annakoot festival is held here after Deepavali. Nearby is the famous Dhundhiraj Ganesh Temple.
Lord Shani Dev Temple
This prominent temple of Lord Shani Dev is situated near the Kashi Vishwanath and Goddess Annapurna Temple
Goddess Durga Temple
It is one of the prominent temples of the city dedicated to Goddess Durga, in Bhelupur-Durga Kund Locality. The temple was built in the 18th century and open only to Hindus. Kushmandadevi temple and Durga Kund are other attractions.
Near the Tulsi Manas Temple, is Tridev Temple a new attraction of the city having the idols of Shri Radha-Krishna, Salasar Balaji Hanuman, Rani Sati and Khatu Shyam.
This observatory was built by Raja Man Singh of Jaipur at Manmandir Ghat near Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dr Rajendra Prasad Ghat. Timing 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. closed on Friday, entry fee-Rs.2.00.
Bharat Mata Temple
A unique temple at Sigra locality-close to M.G. Kashi Vidyapeeth, is dedicated to Mother India, which instead of the customary gods and goddesses, houses one of the most perfect relief maps of India carved on marble. It was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936.
Sankat Mochan Temple
It is one of the oldest temples of the city in the Sankatmochan-Lanka locality. The temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. It is said that Goswami Tulsidasji wrote most parts of his epic Sri Ramcharitmanas here.
Situated in the Kabir Chaura locality, it is the main Kabir Gaddi. The paintings related with the life-events of Saint Kabirdasji are worth seeing.
Radha Swami Temple
The temple having an attractive gate and building, situated on the Kabir Chaura road at Lohatia, is associated with the Radha Swami Sect.
Lord Kal Bhairav Temple
This famous temple is dedicated to Lord Kal Bhairav, considered to be the protector (Kotwal) of the city. It is situated in the Bhairavanath-Vishweshwarganj locality. Nearby are Nagari Pracharini Sabha, the old and famous institution, Mahamritunjai Temple, Tilbhandeshwar temple.
Banaras Hindu University (B.H.U.)
At a short distance from the Sankatmochan Tempe is the Banaras Hindu University, one of the prestigious educational centers of India. It was founded by Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. The university is among the new institutions which provide education on variety of subjects including the Ayurveda, Astrology, Yoga, Tantra, and Music etc.
New Lord Vishwanath Temple
Situated in the promises of Banaras Hindu University, this modern place of worship was planned by Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya and built by the Birlas, on the pattern of the original Lord Vishwanath Temple. Verses from old scriptures are inscribed on its walls.
Bharat Kala Bhawan
This museum, within the BHU campus, houses the finest collection of Mughal miniature paintings and brocade textiles. Timing 10.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. (except university holidays), Closed on Sunday, entry fee Rs.10.00 (Indians), Rs.100.00 (foreigners), Tel: 2369227.
Saint Ravidas Temple
This grand temple is built at Seergoverdhana area, near the B.H.U., which is the birth place of Saint Ravidasji.
The magnificent Gurubhagh Gurudwara marks the place where Guru Nanakdevji had stayed in 1506. Gurudwara Neechibagh, in the Aas Bhairav locality, is the place where Guru Teg Bahadurji meditated in 1666.
Varanasi is also regarded as one of the most sacred pilgrim centes of the Jains. It is believed that four Tirthankars – Suparshavanath, Chandra Prabhu, Shreyansshnath and Parshvanath – were born in and around Varanasi. Many Shvetambar and Digamber Jain temples, columns and idols are located in Bhadaini and Bhelupura localities.
Lahartara Sarovar, 3 km from Cantt Railway Station pm Varanasi Allahabad route, is the Udbhav Sthal of great saint Kabirdasji. The old temple built in between the Sarovar (pond) is worth visiting.
The other attractions are: Sakshi Vinayak Temple, Nepali Temple, Goddess Sankatha Temple, Lord Baijnath Temple, Lord Batuk Bhairav Temple, Bindumadhav Temple, Chitraghanta Temple, Bara Ganesh Temple, Kalratri Temple, Mukh Nirmalika Temple, Shailputri Devi Temple, Garhwa Ghat, Shool Tankeshwar Temple etc.
Important organizations & Telephone No.
Yoga Institute, B.H.U - Tel.: 2368938
Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth - Tel.: 2223160, 2222689
Dr. Sampurnanand Sanskrit University - Tel.: 2206617, 2204089
Krishna Murti Foundation, Rajghat - Tel.: 2441784
R.K. Mission, Luxa Road Gandhi institute Rajghat - Tel.: 2451773
Nagari Pracharini Sabha, Maidagin - Tel.: 2331488, 2331277
Gyan Pravah, Nagwa - Tel.: 2366326
Garhwa Ghat Ashram - Tel.: 2366977
Theosophical Society - Tel.: 2400773
Maha Bodhi Society of India, Sarnath - Tel.: 2595955
Tibetan Institute, Sarnath - Tel.: 2585148
Ramnagar Fort and Museum
14 km Ramnagar, across the Ganga River, is the home of the Maharaja of Banaras, who is revered as the representative of Lord Shiva in the city. The mamssive 17th century fort here houses a museum displaying the royal collection which a museum displaying the royal collection which includes Vintage Cars, Royal Palanquins, an armoury of swords and old guns, ivory work and antique clocks. The Goddess Durga Temple and Chhinnamastika Devi Temple here are also worth visiting. Ramnagar is also famous for its unique month long Ram Leela. One can go to Ramnagar by road or boat.
Summer: 8:30 am to 12:00 noon, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Winter: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Entry fee: Rs.12.00