January 25th, 2018
“Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”
These words written by Mark Twain in 1897 of the city of mysticism.
The colorful and mysterious city of Benares or Varanasi, as it is known in Hindi, is a land embellished with a vivid history, and marvellous legends. It is regarded as one of the Sapta Puri- Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Varanasi, Avanti, and Dwarka- the seven pilgrimage cities, which can give moksha or liberation. Because of its rich history, Varanasi has an alluring charm to which makes everyone- be it a staunch Hindu, or a foreign traveller- want to experience the place at least once in their lifetime.
Placed right in the centre of Ganges valley of North India, Varanasi is one of the oldest cities to have existed. It is not only a major site for cremation of Hindus but also has been a popular place for travelling because of its history and authenticity. Golden triangle tour with Varanasi is a popular tour package amongst tourists because of its proximity to New Delhi.
Here are some of the things you can do while you are in Varanasi:
Take a dip in the Holy Ganga
Because Varanasi is built on the banks of Ganga, there are many ghats that you can go out and stroll through.these flights of steps leading down to the river were constructed under the patronage of the Marathas. Most of the ghats are bathing sites, while others are used for cremation. Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main and perhaps the oldest ghat in Varanasi and is present near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple; the Manikarnika Ghat is the main site for cremation in the city and is so old that it is mentioned in fourth century Gupta inscriptions; the Jain Ghat is believed to be the birthplace of Parshvanatha (the twenty third tirthankara) and is surrounded by three well known Jain temples.
There is no dearth of ghats in Varanasi for you to visit considering that there are almost eighty four of them. So go ahead and take a dip in the holy water of the Ganga and purge all the grime your soul might have accumulated.
Witness the evening aarti ceremony
The one thing that you must not miss out on when you visit Varanasi is the magic of the evening aarti ceremony. Performed every day at the Dashashwamedh Ghat the beautiful order in chaos of the agni aarti is mesmerising and enchanting.
One thing that India’s religious capital has in abundance is temples. There are numerous, and each has a unique identity to it. The Bharat Mata Temple, the Durga Temple, the Parshvanath Temple, the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple- all are worth a visit. The oldest, and the most popular of all is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple because it is one of the twelve jyotirlinga Shiva temples.
Visit Ramnagar Fort
Located near the Ganga opposite the Tulsi Ghat, Ramnagar Fort was built in the eighteenth century with cream colored sandstone. It is cited as an “eccentric” museum because it houses bejeweled sedan chairs, rare American vintage cars, religious writings, and books illustrated in Mughal style.
Because it is only a ten hour ride from Agra to this city of lights, you can easily incorporate it in your golden triangle tour package.
These are only some of the things you can do in the cultural hub because no matter how many times you visit Varanasi, there is always something new to explore. The chaotic yet tranquil city makes you feel like time has paused around you and that there is nowhere you would rather be than on the ghats of this beautiful city.
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