One of the oldest living cities of the world, Varanasi has a history lasting many thousand
years. It is the holiest place for the Hindu, was an education center, a place
ravaged by history and rebuilt many times over. Varanasi,
Banaras or Kashi, however you call it, the
place brings in a charm of timelessness to mind - of thousands of pilgrims
bathing on the ghats, performing shraddha karma, sadhus meditating and the
ganges flowing gently since ages.
Overview. Varanasi is a holy
city for the Hindus, and is visited by a large number of people from all over India. In the
recent years, it has also attracted backpackers and tourists from all over the
world who want to quickly witness Indian Culture and head forward to next
destination. It has become as much a touristy place as it is a place of
pilgrimage. Winter is the ideal time to visit Varanasi, as temperatures easily cross 40 in
Orientation. Most of the action is Varanasi
is centered close to the 5km stretch of ghats along the bank of Ganga. Ramnagar Fort and Banaras Hindu
University are some of
the attractions that may require you to hire some transportation.
Things to do and Places to See
Ganga Aarti on
Dasaswamedh Ghat. Every evening, an elaborate aarti is performed on
the bank of the river at Dasaswamedh Ghat, close to Kashi Viswanath
Temple. The aarti begins
at 6pm and lasts for approximately 30 minutes. Its a colorful ritual with fine
choreography with lamps swaying in the hands of the performers.
The most important pilgrim point in Varanasi.
Entry is allowed for Hindus only. It is this temple that attracts people from
all over the country, who believe that one must visit the temple in the
RamNagar Fort. A short rickshaw ride from Varanasi, Ramnagar has a large fort in the
opposite bank of the river, built by Maharaja Balwant Singh in 18th century.
You can see the fort walls at a distance from the ghats of Varanasi.
This is a well known Hanuman temple south of Assi Ghat, popular with locals who
visit the temple every day. The temple was in news a few years back for a bomb
blast that killed many.
Harischandra Ghat. This is not exactly a place for
tourists, but the western curiosity has propelled the ghat into such a status.
Harischandra Ghat is where Raja Harischandra is said to have worked as guardian
of the cremation ground. It still remains the place where the bodies are burnt
and ashes immersed in the Ganges.
The well known university built by Madan Mohan Malviya, located south of the
ghats has a leafy and peaceful campus worth a visit.
Sarnath. Sarnath is a short rickshaw ride from Varanasi. This is the
place where Buddha is said to have delivered his first sermon. This is a
popular tourist spot and pilgrimage place for Buddhists, and is especially
popular with travellers from Buddhist countries like Japan. This is also the place where
King Ashoka's pillar with four lions is, which is now the national emblem.
Boat ride on the Ganges.
This is one of the most coveted activities in Varanasi. Get down to the ghats early in the
morning and take the hour long ride from Assi Ghat to Dasaswamedh Ghat. Watch
the sunrise over the river, and then see hoards of pilgrims along the ghats.
Food and accommodation. There are a large number of
guesthouses, small hotels and dharmashalas along the ghats. These are the best
places to stay and see Varanasi.
The good hotels are all near the railway station and far from the ghats. Varanasi is known for its
street food, especially Lassi and other foods derived from Milk.
How to Reach. Varanasi
train station, and nearby MughalSarai station are well connected from most of
the country. Varanasi also has an airport, with
daily flights with connections from Delhi