Tourist Destinations in City of Gods Varanasi , Uttar Pradesh

Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities in the World, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Labeled as the “Holy Capital of India” it is a city of spiritualism where ancient culture and traditions still exist. As Mark Twain stated, “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” The existence of the city dates back to 5000 years and has been standing the tests of time. Also known as Benaras, Kashi and Banaras, it stands on the banks of the Holy River Ganges, magnetizing millions of tourists across the globe. It is the city where life meets death and according to Hindu mythology, a person who takes his last breath in this city is sure to get liberated from the cycle of birth and death. It is believed that Kashi was created by Lord Shiva and inhabitants of the city believe that they are great disciples of Lord Shiva. The city is a major Hindu pilgrimage destination for the Hindus and attracts a massive crowd of devotees throughout the year. However, it is also one of the revered cities by the Buddhists and Jains.

 The city is also the home to Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the largest residential university in Asia. There are a number of attractions in the city, which are worth visiting. Some of the must-visit as well as popular tourist places in the holy city are listed below:

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

One of the most frequented tourist place in the city is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlangas and is the most revered places by the Hindus. The temple is situated on the western bank of the holy river Ganges and the chief deity of the temple is Lord Shiva. The premises of the temple comprise a chain of smaller place of worship, located in a small lane called the Vishwanatha Galli, near the river. The temple houses a Shiv linga , which is 60 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference is placed on a silver altar. There are small temples for Dhandapani, Virupaksh Gauri, Vishnu, Kaalbhairav, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Avimukteshwara within the premises. There is a small well in the temple called the Jnana Vapi, which literally means the wisdom well and it is believed that it is this place the Jytorlinga was hidden to protect it from invasion. It remains thronged by devotees from all over the World.

Ramnagar Fort

About 14 km from Varanasi, Ramnagar Fort is a must-visit place while on a trip to the holy city. It served as the residence to the King of Banaras, which was built by Maharaja Balwant Singh during the 18th century. According to the legends, Veda Vyasa, the author of the great Indian Epic Mahabharata resided at the place for a short time, where the fort stands. The fort is constructed using red sandstone and within the complex of the fort is a temple dedicated to Ved Vyasa and a museum. The museum is one of the prime attractions of this fort and puts on display the royal collection such as vintage Cars, Royal palkies, an armory of swords and old guns, ivory work and antique clocks. There is a huge clock hanging on the walls of the fort-palace and the most unique thing about it is that it not only displays year, month, week and day but also astronomical facts about the sun, moon and constellation of stars. This beautiful fort stands as an evidence of the rich and glorious yesteryears.

Kedareshwar Temple

Kedareshwar temple is also one of the prominent Hindu pilgrimages of the city, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that this temple is equivalent to the one in the Himalayas. According to mythology, a devotee of Lord Shiva visited the Kedareshwar temple, situated in the Himalayas, continuously for 61 years. However, owing to his old age, he couldn’t go there and he desired to visit it. He prayed to the Lord with utmost devotion asking him to appear in Kashi as Kedareshwar. Impressed with his devotion, Lord Shiva showed his image and the Shiv Linga appeared in the plate of lentils and rice. Lord Shiva blesses him and said that by performing pooja at this temple will yield 7 times better results and hence, became one of the most revered places in Varanasi.

Bharat Kala Bhavan

Situated within the premises of BHU, Bharat Kala Bhavan is an art and architecture museum, which exhibits a huge collection of paintings, Buddhist as well as Hindu sculptures and other things of archeological importance. It was established in the year 1920 AD, which also houses an impressive collection of miniature paintings from the courts of Mughals and other Kingdoms. There are number of galleries displaying different items, which make it a must-visit place in the city apart from the shrines.

Durga Temple

A 500 years old temple located in Ramnagar, Durga Temple is considered to be one of the most beautiful temples in the entire city. It is under the authority of royal family of Banaras and is devoted to Goddess Durga, an incarnation of Goddess Shakti. The temple is well-known for its detailed design on the walls, epitomizing the stone work art in India. Within its complex, there is a huge pond with stone stairs in all sides and four watch pillars on each corner. The entire complex is indeed an architectural wonder, making it a must-visit place in the city.

Ghats in Varanasi

Varanasi is famous for its Ghats and it is 4km offering enchanting view of the sunrise and sunset. Each of the Ghats has their own significance and millions of devotees visit these Ghats to perform the rituals on the bank of River Ganga. Some of the most popular Ghats are:

1. Manikarnika Ghat: Manikarnika Ghat, popularly as Mahasmasana, is one of two Ghats in Varanasi, which is a cremation ground for the Hindus. Manikarnika Ghat is the famous among the two and its existence dates back to several hundreds of years. According to Hindu mythology, this ghat has a relation to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and is believed that the burning of dead bodies in this cremation ground releases the dead from the cycle of birth and death and attains liberation. It houses a Shiva Durga temple, which was built in 1850 by Maharaja of Awadh. There is a sacred pond, which is known as Cakra-Pushkarini Kund and is believed that this pond was dug by Lord Vishnu and its existence is before the derivation of holy Ganges.

2. Dashaswamedh Ghat: This is one of the most celebrated religious places for the Hindus. It is considered to be an important and primary ghat, which is visited by the pilgrims from all over. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma performed his victorious Dasa - Ashwamedha (ten horses) sacrifice in this place and the same ten horse sacrifice was carried out by Bhara Shiva Naga rulers during the 2nd century. The Ghat was later repaired by Bajirao Pesava I in the year 1740 AD and then by the Queen of Indore, the princess Ahilyabai Holkar in the year 1774. It is the ideal platform for the devotees to perform holy rituals.

3. Assi Ghat: Assi Ghat is another most popular place in the city, which is thronged by devotees. It lies on the confluence of Rivers Ganga and Assi and is the southernmost Ghat in the city. It is at this place where the famous Indian poet Tulasi Das wrote Ramcharitmanas. According legends, Goddess Durga had thrown her sword at this place after slaughtering the demons, Shumbha and Nishumbha. Here, people take bath in the holy Ganges and pay homage to Lord Shiva, in form of a lingam, which is placed under a peepal tree. It is frequented by thousands of devotees all throughout the year.

Sankat Mochan Temple

One of the most revered places in the city is the Sankat Mochan Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the monkey God. It is located on the banks of River Assi, within the campus of BHU. According to the legends, the temple has been constructed by Tulsi Das at the site where Lord Hanuman appeared infront of him. It is one of the most sacred places and it is believed that regular visitors to the temple will gain special favor of Hanuman. The temple remains thronged by devotees especially on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar is one of the major attractions of the city, which was built by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur in the year 1737. The king had built Jantar Mantar at various places of the country to witness the star as well as planetary movements, find the local time and predict eclipse, etc. This observatory is the replica of the one in the National Capital, New Delhi. It has as a feature multiple structures of distinctive form; each one had a specific function for astronomical measurement. It is a major crowd puller in the city, which is visited by an enormous crowd of tourists.

City of Gods - Varanasi , Uttar Pradesh , India
Varanasi is an ancient city, which can be said to be as old as time. It is a major Hindu pilgrimage destination and attracts thousands of devotees across the globe. These are just a few major tourist places in the city; however, the entire city is speckled with small and big temples and the list can go unending.

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