Call it Varanasi, Banaras or Kashi, the holy town is as old as civilization. The charm is surreal. Several mysteries remain shrouded deep within the many places to visit in Varanasi. The holy Ghats, splendid temples and historical sites make the ‘City of Lights’ a must-visit at least once in a lifetime. Visitors from every nook and cranny remain intrigued to explore the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism. The pious land evokes spiritualism and ultimately offers complete salvation.
The pious land evokes spiritualism and ultimately offers complete salvation. Varanasi lures people from all over the world. The Golden Triangle Tour with Varanasi circuit is the perfect introduction to Indian legacy. Get blessed by Varanasi in addition to explore the charming cities of Delhi Agra and Jaipur.
Read on to know about the top tourist attractions of Varanasi that complete your trip to the major religious hub in India.
Nestled on the holy Ganges, theDashashwamedh Ghat is probably the oldest and the main ghat in Varanasi. Attending the famous Ganga Aarti in the evening at this ghat is one of the best things to do in Varanasi. Millions of earthen lamps floating in the water, priests revering the Goddess Ganga with huge brass lamps and devotees singing the Aarti present a sight to behold. It is believed that Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe according to Hindu mythology created this Ghat and performed a yajna here.
Manikarnika Ghat is an ultimate place to attain salvation(Moksha). Famed as the burning ghat, the spot is reckoned to be most auspicious by the Hindus to be cremated. Various legends of Shiva and Parvati are associated with this ghat. Spare some time to hear one or two while enjoying a trip to Varanasi. There is no other place where you can see cremation according to Hindu rituals. Make sure you pay reverence to this inevitable ritual.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
With roots dating back to 3500 years ago, it is no wonder why Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the historical places in Varanasi. Lord Shiva is the presiding deity here making the temple rank amongst the twelve Jyotirlingas of Shiva. The immense faith of Hindus in their almighty can be witnessed here. The sanctum sanctorum is visited by many tourists daily but maximum footfall is received on special occasions. Earlier, the dome and spires of the temple were made up of gold and hence, the shrine was named as Golden Temple.
Known by various names, Durga Temple, Durga Mandir or Monkey Temple(because of a large number of monkeys here), the holy shrine is dedicated to Maa Durga. Built in 18th century by Bengali Maharani, the sacred place is one of the famous temples and top tourist attractions in Varanasi. The temple is painted in red and ochre and consists of multi-tiered shikhara. As per the folklore, the idol of goddess appeared on its own.
Gyan Vapi Well
The Gyan Vapi Well translates into the ‘Well of Wisdom’.The temple is the holy abode of the original lingam from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple which was vandalized. The water of the well was considered to be holier than the Ganges River itself. Many folklore associated with this historic place in Varanasi keeps the visitors beguiled. The well lies between the temple and the Gyan Vapi Mosque, constructed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1669. Plan a trip to the well to attain spiritual enlightenment.
Ramnagar Fort & Museum
Adorning the eastern bank of the Ganges, Ramnagar Fort showcases a typical example of the Mughal architecture. Constructed in 18thcentury, the fort features open courtyards, carved balconies and scenic pavilions. Almost in its ruins, the fort is still a repository of the history of the kings of Banaras. A haven for history buffs, the museum is quoted as eccentric and preserves a rare collection of bejewelled sedan chairs, American vintage cars, a rare astrological clock and an impressive weaponry hall.
Chunar Fort is another name that adds to the list of historical places in Varanasi. With its history spanning from 56 BC to 1947, till India got independence, the fort is perched on a rock at an altitude of 280 feet above sea level. The historical events, natural beauty, handicrafts and religious aspect associated with the fort, make is stand out amongst the rest. The fort has witnessed a glorious historical past. Besides the architectural beauty, the fort is dotted with legends, making the fort interesting to explore.
Appearing in the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, Sarnath is located in close proximity to the confluence of the Varuna and Ganges rivers. People from far and near get lured to this Buddhist pilgrimage. Lord Buddha is said to have delivered his first sermon here. Hence, the heritage site in Varanasi is thronged with his devout followers. The city was earlier named as Isipatana and emperor Ashoka constructed numerous monasteries and stupas here. The Deer Park is a major attraction of the town.
Marvel at the beautiful example of Mughal-Rajput architecture situated nearby to the Dashashvamedh Ghat. Man Mandir Observatory is nestled within the Man Mahal. The stone-observatory was built in around 1737 AD by Sawai Jai Singh II. Samrat Yantra (Small and large), DakshinottaraBhittiYantra, NadivalayaYantra, DigamsaYantra and Chakra Yantra are important highlights of the observatory. These are meant for preparing solar and lunar calendar, estimating time and studying the distances, movements, angles of inclination of the planets, stars and other heavenly bodies.
Constructed over the Hindu temple, Alamgir Mosque lies at an enviable location above the Panchganga Ghat. Portraying a fusion of Hindu and Islamic architecture, the mosque is a prominent historical site in Varanasi. Influential architectural skills add to the charm of the mosque. Lower parts of the mosque are dominated by Hindu effect. Lamps are lighted on top of a bamboo staff in October, which is treated as the epitome of guidance to the ancestors.
These are only a few places to visit in Varanasi. There are more surprises to be experienced and witnessed.