Varanasi/ Banaras- The name Varanasi itself is interpreted to be derived from the name of the river Varuna. The river demarcates the north end of Varanasi – the city that lies between Varuna and Assi Rivers.Varanasi is also known as the favourite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva
Ghats in Varanasi Ghats in Varanasi are riverfront steps leading to the banks of the River Ganges. The city has 88 ghats. Most of the ghats are bathing and puja ceremony ghats, while two ghats are used exclusively ascremation sites.
This ghat that used to lie at the confluence of the Ganges with the dry river Asi marks the traditional southern boundary of the city. Asisangameshwar Temple at the ghat finds mention in the Kashi Khandof Skandmahapuran.This ghat is very popular because it is one of the very few ghats that is linked with the city through a wide street.Assi ghat name is given as it is the 80th ghat.
Dashashwamedh Ghat is located close to Vishwanath Temple, and is probably the most spectacular ghat. Two Hindu mythologies are associated with it: According to one, Lord Brahma created it to welcome Lord Shiva. According to another, Lord Brahma sacrificed ten horses, during Dasa-Ashwamedha yajna performed here. A group of priests daily perform in the evening at this ghat “Agni Pooja” (Worship to Fire) wherein a dedication is made to Lord Shiva, River Ganges, Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire), and the whole universe.
Two legends are associated with Manikarnika Ghat. According to one, it is believed to be the place where Lord Vishnu dug a pit with his Chakra and filled it with his perspiration while performing various penances. While Lord Shiva was watching Lord Vishnu at that time, the latter’s earring (“manikarnika”) fell into the pit. According to the second legend, in order to keep Lord Shiva from moving around with his devotees, his consort Goddess Parvati hid her earrings, and asked him to find them, saying that they had been lost on the banks of the Ganges. Goddess Parvati’s idea behind the fib was that Lord Shiva would then stay around, searching forever for the lost earrings. In this legend, whenever a body gets cremated at the Manikarnika Ghat, Lord Shiva asks the soul whether it has seen the earrings.
According to ancient texts, the owner of Manikarnika Ghat bought King Harishchandra as a slave and made him work on the Manikarnika at Harishchandra Ghat. Hindu cremations customarily take place here, though a majority of dead bodies are taken for cremation to the Manikarnik Ghat. According to other sources that Manikarnik Ghat is named after Jhansi ki Rani Laxmibhai.
Early morning meditation on a Ghat on the Ganges, Varanasi Scindia Ghat also known as Shinde Ghat borders Manikarnika to the north, with its Shiva temple lying partially submerged in the river as a result of excessive weight of the ghat’s construction about 150 years ago. Above the ghat, several of Kashi’s most influential shrines are located within the tight maze of alleys of Siddha Kshetra (Field of Fulfillment). According to tradition, Agni, the Hindu God of Fire was born here. Hindu devotees propitiate at this place Vireshwara, the Lord of all heroes, for a son.
Mana-Mandir Ghat: Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur built this Ghat in 1770, as well as the Jantar Mantar equipped with ornate window casings along with those at Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, and Mathura. There is a fine stone balcony in the northern part of the ghat. Devotees pay homage here to the lingam of Someswar, the Lord of the Moon.
Lalita Ghat: The late King of Nepal built this Ghat in the northern region of Varanasi. It is the site of the Ganges Keshav Temple, a wooden temple built in typical Kathmandu style,The temple has an image of Pashupateshwar, a manifestation of Lord Shiva. Local festivals including musical parties and games regularly take place at the beautiful Assi Ghat which is at the end of the continuous line of ghats. It is a favorite site of painters and photographers. It is here at the Assi Ghat that Swami Pranabananda, the founder of Bharat Sevasharam Sangh,attained ‘Siddhi’ (fulfilment/success) in his ‘Tapasya’ (endeavor) for Lord Shiva, under the auspices of Guru Gambhirananda of Gorakhpur.
The Jain Ghat or Bachraj Ghat is a Jain Ghat and has three Jain Temples located on the banks of the River. It is believed that the Jain Maharajas used to own these ghats.Bachraj Ghat has three Jain temples near the river’s banks and one them is a very ancient temple of Tirthankara Suparswanath.
RIVER FRONT (GHATS)
The spectacular 4 km sweep of the Ghats is unique sight, best viewed at dawn, in that “soft first light” when the river and Ghats have a timeless appeal. Life is almost panoramic detail unfolds here from dawn to dusk as a steady stream of devotees-swelling to thousands on auspicious days –perform rituals by the Ganga. The Ghats are best approached by Dashashwamedha ghat, where boats are available on hire.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple: Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This is one of the most worshiped Shiva temple in Hinduism and has been mentioned in the Puranas including the Kashi Khanda (section) of Skanda Purana. The original Vishwanath temple was destroyed by the army of Qutb-ud-din Aibak in 1194 CE, when he defeated the Raja of Kannauj as a commander of Mohammad Ghori. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in the past 800 years and the existing structure was erected in 18th century.
Kaal Bhairav Mandir: Kaal Bhairav Mandir is an ancient temple of Varanasi near the main Post Office, VishesharGanj. Lord Kaal Bhairav is believed to be the “Kotwal of Varanasi”. Without his permission no one can stay in Kashi.
Mrityunjay Mahadev Mandir: Mrityunjay Mahadev Mandir of Lord Shiva is situated on the route from Daranagar to the Kalbhairav temple. Just beside this temple there is a well of much religious importance. Its water is said to be a mixture of several underground streams and good for eliminating several diseases.
New Vishwanath Mandir (Birla Mandir): The New Vishwanath Mandir, also called Birla Mandir, mainly funded by Birla family, was built as a replica of the old Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Planned by Madan Mohan Malaviya, the temple is part of the Banaras Hindu University campus, and represents national revival. The temple is open to people of all castes and religions. There are nine temples in the Sri Vishwanath Temple campus, including Vishwanathji (Shiva Lingam), Natarajji, Mata Parvatiji, Ganesji, Mata Saraswatiji, Panchmukhi Mahadev, Hanumanji, and Nandiji. There are idols of Lord Shiva and Lakshmi Narayanji.
Durga Kund Mandir: The architecture of Durga Mandir is of a Nagara Style, which is typical of North India. The temple has a rectangular tank of water called the Durga Kund (“Kund” meaning a pond or pool.) The temple has multi-tiered spires and is stained red with ochre, representing the red colour of Durga. The Kund was initially connected directly to the river thus the water was automatically replenished. This channel was later closed, locking off the water supply, which is replenished only by rain or drainage from the Temple. Every year on the occasion of Nag Panchami, the act of depicting Lord Vishnu reclining on the coiled-up mystical snake or “Shesha” is recreated in the Kund.
Sankata Devi Mandir: Sankata Devi Mandir is situated near the Sindhia Ghat, there is an important temple of the “Goddess of Remedy”, Devi Sankatha. Inside its premises there is a huge statue of a lion. There are also nine temples of nine planets near to this temple
Sankat Mochan Mandir: Sankat Mochan Mandir is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. It is very popular with locals. It is the location for many yearly religious as well as cultural festivals.
Annapurna Devi Mandir: Annapurna Devi Mandir is located near the Kashi Vishwanath temple, there is a nice temple of Devi Annapurna, believed to be the “Goddess of Food”. She is a form of Parvati. She is also known as Kashipuraadeeshwari (“Queen of Kasi”).
Tulsi Manas Mandir: Tulsi Manas Mandir is dedicated to Lord Rama. It is situated at the place where Tulsidas, the great medieval seer, lived and wrote the epic “Shri Ramcharitmanas”, which narrates the life of Lord Rama,the hero of the Ramayana. Verses from Tulsidas’ epic are inscribed on the walls. It is close to the Durga Temple.
In Varanaseya Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh state, one statue of Dhanvantari is present in the University museum. One Black stoned statue facing south is situated in a personal property of a Brahman family in Chowk area, varanasi. It’s said that the Idol was found beneath the premises of that property when it was getting constructed and the Brahman couldn’t figure out who it was hence decided to have it drifted in Ganga next morning, however same night lord came in his dream and introduced himself as KashiRaja Divodas(Dhanvantari) and asked to remain his idol where it was found, hence he built this temple in his house and his successors are still serving the Lord there.
Bharat Mata Mandir: Bharat Mata Mandir (“Mother India Temple”) is located on the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith campus in Varanasi, India. Instead of traditional statues of Gods and Goddesses, this temple has a huge map of undivided India carved in marble. This temple is dedicated to Mother India and claims to be the only one of its kind in the world.
The Alamgir Mosque, Varanasi, also known as Beni Madhav ka Darera and Aurangzeb’s Mosque, is a mosque built in the 17th century by emperor Aurangzeb in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
The Gyanvapi mosque is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was constructed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. It is located north of Dashashwamedh Ghat, near Lalita Ghat along the river Ganga.
The Jantar Mantar observatory, constructed in 1737, is located above the ghats along the Ganges, and is adjacent to the Manmandir and Dasaswamedh Ghats and near the palace of Jai Singh II of Jaipur. While less equipped than the observatories at Jaipur and Delhi, the Jantar Mantar has a unique equatorial sundial which is functional and allows measurements to be monitored and recorded by one person.
The Ramnagar Fort, located near the Ganges on its eastern bank and opposite the Tulsi Ghat, was built in the 18th century by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh with cream-coloured chunar sandstone. The fort is a typical example of the Mughal architecture with carved balconies, open courtyards, and scenic pavilions. At present, the fort is in disrepair. The fort and its museum are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares. Cited as an “eccentric” museum, it contains a rare collection of American vintage cars, bejeweled sedan chairs, an impressive weaponry hall, and a rare astrological clock. In addition, manuscripts, especially religious writings, are housed in the Saraswati Bhawan which is a part of a museum within the fort. Many books illustrated in the Mughal miniature style are also part of the collections. Because of its scenic location on the banks of the Ganges, it is frequently used as an outdoor shooting location for films.
BHU/Banaras Hindu University
Banaras Hindu University (B.H.U) founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya in 1917A.D is the largest residential University in India. At the entrance, there is the grand statue of its founder and the Vishwanath temple in its centre. The huge temple was built in 1966, under patronage of the Birlas. It has a 677 meter high rising white top and its well carved architecture attracts pilgrims.
This is the biggest and busiest markets of Varanasi.Godawlia is fringed on both sides by smaller shops and squat buildings selling everything from daily household items to costume jewelry, hardware, shawls, fine silk, bracelets, brocaded fabrics, zari work, readymade garments, beads, and shoes. Interestingly, one can also buy and sell shares.
Banarasi paan is world famous. Banarasi Paan is natural fresh to the whole world. Keshaw Paan Bhandar and Gopalji Paan Walah is the best paan shop in Banaras. They prepare the special paan with kewda water and offer it with gulkand, grated coconut and dry dates flavers, all rolled in an betel leaf. Paan is a mouth fresher to remove the bad odour from the mouth and it all helps in digestion after heavy meals.
Varanasi is world famous for its sarees. The sarees are among the finest sarees in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery. The sarees are made of finely woven silk and are decorated with intricate design, and, because of these engravings, are relatively heavy.
It is at Saranath, 10km north of Varanasi. Sarnath, the place where Buddha gave his first sermon is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage centre. The Ashoka pillar stands in front of the main stupa where Ashoka sat and meditated. The Sarnath Archaeological Museum at Ashoka Marg, houses a copy of Ashoka’s lion pillar and some sculptures.
This is known to be the most attractive structure present at Sarnath, Varanvsi. The Stupa is also one of the most prominent Buddhist structures across the nation. Also commonly referred to as Dhamekha, the Stupa is situated around 13 km away from Varanasi. It was in the year 249 BCE that the great Mauryan King Ashoka commissioned a structure at the site. Later on, in 500 CE the Dhamekha Stupa was constructed to replace the structure. The popular Ashoka pillar stands near the stupa.