Located on the banks of the famous river Ganga, the city hosts astute worshipers of Lord Shiva. Varanasi, also known as Benaras is a spiritually blissful place for Hindus who long to visit various sacred temples and ghats of the city. Along with the spiritual structure, this city is also a blend of colourful enchanting beauty and serenity. Even though it is known to be holy ground for Hindus and Jains, it is also known to have played a notable role in the development of Buddhism and Ravidassia.
Every year, hundreds of Hindus visit this city and purposely take a bath in the holy river of Ganga, as it is believed that the purity of the river will help you to wash all your sins away. Today, Varanasi is not just known for its spiritual grounds but also for producing authentic gold and silver thread work. One is also presented with heterogeneous brass wares, handicrafts, glass bangles, and perfumes. The famous carpet weaving also attracts many tourists and pilgrims towards its ethnic beauty.
Table of Contents
- History - Varanasi
- Top 10 Places To Visit In Varanasi
- The Best Time To Visit Varanasi
- Varanasi Trip Essentials
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Bottom Line
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History Of Varanasi
It is said that the name Varanasi originated from two tributaries of the holy river Ganga: Varuna and Assi. Archaeological evidence proves that Varanasi was inhabited by humans back in 1800 BCE. This is further backed by Hindu mythology where it is believed that Lord Shiva had taken Lord Brahma's head after a fight and kept it with himself all the time, but once accidentally dropped the hanging head of Lord Brahma in the city of Varanasi. Further, it is also believed that the five Pandavas had visited the city in their quest for atonement for killing their brothers and thousands of people during the war and search for Lord Shiva. Varanasi or Kashi is regarded as one of seven holy cities along with Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Avanti, and Dvaraka by the Hindus where it is thought that a visit to these cities will help them provide Moksha.
Along with mythology, Varanasi also holds a rich history from medieval times where the city was announced as the second capital by Chadradeva, founder of the Gahadavala dynasty. Notable personalities of the 15th-century Kabirdas and Ravidas were also born in Benaras. The modern structural development of the city was mostly done by Marth, Bhumihar, and Brahmin rulers. Even during the British Raj, the kings kept governing the then Benaras Kingdom and wielded influence over the city. Throughout the Mughal Raj and British Raj, the kingdom had witnessed quite a few disturbances and wars but came out as a culturally rich fighter.
Top 10 Places To Visit In Varanasi
If you are looking to visit a historically and spiritually rich place, Varanasi not only comes with a holy tag but also as a colourful city that promises you an enriching experience. Let's see what are the top ten places to visit in Varanasi:
- Boat Ride Through River Ganges: If you are looking for places to visit in Varanasi with friends, rowing through the boat will give you a panoramic view of the river and also provide you with one of the most quintessentially scenic experiences you had with your friends. It takes you through different ghats and temples, while also giving you a sneak peek of sadhus taking bath in the holy river. The boat ride starts from Dasawamedh Ghat and ends at Harishchandra Ghat, and mostly lasts long for an hour.
- Manikarnika Ghat: Manikarnika Ghat is a famous place for cremation among Hindus. Here the constant scene of cremation is known for its overwhelming experience. It might not be one of the best Varanasi tourist places but witnessing the pure nakedness of life that happens in a routine structure, can give birth to unique and psychologically rich feelings.
- Dashashwamedh Ghat: Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main ghat of the Ganga River in Varanasi which has bright spiritual and colourful magnificence. If you are looking for places to visit in Varanasi with some mythological history Dashashwamedh Ghat might come out as one of the prime choices. It is believed that Lord Brahma had sacrificed 10 horses. Hence the ghat is lit with clay lamps called “diyas” after every sunset for the sacred rituals.
- Chunar Fort: The ancient red colour of the Chunar Fort has successfully attracted many civilians towards the fort which is located between Varanasi and Prayagraj. Chunar Fort is also called Tilismi Quila or Magical Fort as it got featured in the famous novel "Chandrakanta" This fort is also quite famous for producing good quality stones in Kaimur Hills.
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple: Kashi Vishwanath is one of most prime places to visit in Varanasi for couples who are looking for a holy temple to complete their pilgrimage. Lord Shiva also known as Vishwanatha or Vishweshwarar is the main deity of this temple. This temple is also famous for hosting a gold plating of 800 kg on its tower.
- Rana Mahal Ghat: Rana Mahal Ghat should be on your list of places to visit in Varanasi. In 1670, when Raja Rana Jagatsingh came to Varanasi for his pilgrimage, he built this ghat and to date, it provides a memorable experience to all the tourists. This refined old architecture with a rich heritage tour makes this place one of the best Varanasi tourist places.
- Panchganaga Ghat: Once again known for its mythological significance, Panchganaga Ghat is believed to be the sacred spot where all the five Hindu Goddess Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Dhutpapa, and Kirana come together.
- Kedar Ghat: This ghat is believed to be one of the oldest ghats of Benaras and is said to be the most favoured choice for holy bathing. Kedar Ghat also houses the Kedareshwar Temple and once again Lord Shiva is the main deity of this temple. This temple has breathtakingly beautiful interiors and hosts hundreds of worshipers of Lord Shiva.
- Benaras Hindu University: Along with various Ghats and temples, Varanasi is also famous for housing one of the world's largest residential universities in Asia, the Banaras Hindu University which was established by Madan Mohan Malaviya and Annie Besant in 1919. The scenic campus expands up to 13000 acres of land.
- Sarnath: Along with Hindus, this city is also famous for its distinguished Buddhists pilgrimage site, Sarnath also known as Mrigadava and Isipatana. It is believed that after Gautam Buddha gained enlightenment, this was the first place where he preached his learnings on Dharma. Sarnath also consists of many stupas and some structural ruins.
The Best Time To Visit Varanasi
There are so many places to visit in Varanasi with friends couples and friends that one has to take ample time in their hands while planning a trip here. Since the temperature in Varanasi is quite high, it is always advised to avoid visiting the city during Summers. The hot and dry weather can disrupt your sightseeing experience and convert a wholesome experience into a tiring one. Monsoons are quite pleasant here but winters have the most pleasant weather. The cool and soothing temperature makes it easy for you to travel across the different ghats and temples without draining extra energy. If you are visiting Varanasi during a festival (especially during Deepavali) a splendid sight of ghats lit up with earthen lamps is like the cherry on the cake. The Ganda Aarti performed by 21 priests during Dev Deepavali is the most colourful experience you will ever have.
Varanasi Trip Essentials
It might be difficult to plan a trip to Varanasi, especially for first-timers. Are you unsure what to bring to Varanasi? Many first-time tourists are perplexed as to what to take for Varanasi, and with good reason. Varanasi isn't your usual "holiday" vacation location. For this reason, we’ve formed this Varanasi packing list to help you be a little more prepared and confident.
Varanasi is a spiritual city that is deeply rooted in Indian culture. Wear appropriate attire for the duration of your journey. Locals would be less likely to give you strange looks if you dressed modestly. Some temples, such as Kashi Vishwanath Temple, have a severe saree requirement for entry. In the temple, temporary sarees are available.
The temperature will be extremely hot and humid, therefore light attire is recommended. Cotton is the most suitable material. You should wear walking shoes or flip-flops because you will be doing a lot of walking around the city. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella. Sunscreen creams should also be used. The summer nights are also considerably hot and thus, you need not worry about packing thick quilts.
During Rainy Season:
The rains are hard and fierce, although there will be intermittent showers, making the ground slick. Avoid heels and opt for shoes with a good grip. Boots are a good option. Carry a raincoat or umbrella with you.
Jackets and warm wear are essential. Winter nights will be bitterly cold, necessitating the use of large jackets and shawls. If you're planning a trip early in the morning in the winter, be aware of the foggy weather. During the winter, have Vaseline or moisturiser on hand.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Varanasi famous for?
Varanasi is famous among Hindus because of its mythological past. There are numerous temples and ghats which is situated along the banks of River Ganga. It is one of the seven holy cities for Pilgrims who take a dip in the Ghats of Varanasi to wash away their sins and conduct various rituals.
2. Can children visit Varanasi?
There are many places in Varanasi for couples and their kids but if you are going in a crowded ghat, it is advised to always hold your children's hand throughout the visit, especially if they are less than 12 years old. The police in UP is also on the guard, so the safety of your child is constantly taken into account
3. How many days do you need in Varanasi?
It usually takes 1-2 days to visit Varanasi but if you want a deeper experience, you should stay there for around 3-4 days so that you can stay in each temple for quite some time and not be in a constant state of rush.
4. Is Varanasi safe at night?
Even though Varanasi is comparatively safer than other cities in Uttar Pradesh, but it is advised to go alone at night in the Ghats as the people over there are a bit conservative.
The Bottom Line
There are so many things to do and so many stories to learn about this vivid place, that just one article or a two-day experience is not merely enough to dive deep into the soul of the city. Varanasi is one of those cities which is filled with hustle and bustle, and it might be hard for one to adjust to the city but the royal culture will force you to fall in love with the city. The sadhus, the tell-tales, and the scenic beauty of the city make it special for not only Indians but also for mankind who get the luxury to maintain the ancient ethnicity of one of the oldest places on earth and keep it alive for our future civilization.