Varanasi or Banaras is one of the oldest cities of India located on the
western bank of the river Ganga in the northern Indian state of Uttar
Pradesh(U.P). It is also known as Kashi or the City of Spiritual Light.
It is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage places for the Hindus
preserving the oldest tradition and philosophy of Hindu religion. Numerous
sacred ghats along the banks of the river Ganges, Ashrams(spiritual schools)
and a number of ancient temples are the major sources of tourist attractions
of this place. This eternal city is an important centre of learning from the
very ancient time and can be seen from the present Banaras Hindu
University(BHU), one of the oldest in India.
Pilgrimage Shrines :
Various ancient temples and ghats are the major pilgrimage attractions in
this place. Some notable ones are :
» Kashi Vishwanath Temple -
Dedicated to lord
Shiva, the ancient temple of kashi Vishwanath was built by Maharani Ahalya
Bai in 1780. It later underwent structural changes with the addition and
renovation under different rulers during late 18th and early 19th century.
The main attraction of the temple is the gold plated domes, which were
covered by the gold donated by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. Now it is under the
Ministry of Cultures and Religious Affairs of U.P. Govt. The temple is open
daily to people of all caste and creed.
There are around 100 ghats along the river Ganges used generally
for bathing. Pilgrims also perform various rituals, meditations and yogas on
these ghats. There are also some burning ghats where bodies are cremated.
» Bharata Mata Temple -
Dedicated to Mother India,
this temple was built by Babu Shiv Prasad in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi
Vidyapeeth. The temple houses a marble statue of Mother India and was
inaugurated in the year 1936 by the 'Father of the Nation' Mahatma Gandhi
» Durga Temple -
The 8th century built temple
dedicated to Goddess Durga- the female power is one of the most important
temple in Varanasi. Built in Nagara Style architecture with an ornamented
shikhara, various carved columns and a courtyard. Non Hindus are not allowed
to the inner side of the temple.
» Tulsi Manas Temple -
Built in 1964, the temple is
dedicated to Lord Rama. It is belived that this is the place where the great
medieval seer Tulsidas had written the great epic Shri Ramacharitmanas.
The carved walls of the temple depict various scenes from this great epic.
Other Attractions :
» Banaras Hindu University(BHU) -
Founded by Pt.
Madan Mohan Malaviya, it is one of the oldest educational centres of India.
It is probably the most important educational centre to study the great
Indian Art, culture, music and Sanskrit. The Bharat Kala Bhawan Museum
inside the university complex has a fine collections of miniature paintings,
sculptures, old coins, old photographs, manuscripts and several rare
» Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies -
by Dalai Lama in 1971, the institute provides education in Tibetan language.
The institute has a rare collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts.
Getting to Varanasi :
Varanasi is easily accessible from all major cities of India by air, rail
» By Air -
The city has its own airport(Babatpur
Airport) at a distance of 22 km from the city centre. It is connected to
Delhi, Agra, Khajuraho, Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow and Bhubaneswar.
» By Rail -
The two railway stations the Kashi
Junction and Varanasi Cantt. Junction are connected to most of the major
tourist destinations of India.
» By Road -
A good motorable road network links the
city with all important towns of Uttar Pradesh and surrounding areas. Some
major road distances are: Agra(565km), Allahbad(128km), Kanpur(330),
Khajuraho(405km), Lucknow(286km). Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport
Corporation(UPSRTC) has bus services to all these places.
» Local Transport -
Taxis, auto rickshaws and cycle
rickshaws are available for travelling within the city.