|The venerable and ancient
city Varanasi is the religious centre of the world for Hindus. A magnificent
city, with myriad attractions, both as an exalted place of pilgrimage and a
microcosmic centre of faith. Thousands of pilgrims visit the city from all
parts of India and from across the world. A unique city where the past and
present, eternity and continuity live side by side.
The city rises from the high northern bank on the outside curve of Ganga,
the holiest of all Indian rivers, to form a magnificent panorama of
buildings in many varieties of Indian architecture. The unique relationship
between the sacred river and the city is the essence of Varanasi - the land
of sacred light. The Ganga is believed to have flown from the heaven to wash
away the worldly sins of the humankind. Thus, to be in Varanasi is an out of
this world experience, and experience of self discovery, a journey
throughthe present and the past in search of immortality.
According to the historians, the city was founded some ten centuries before
the birth of Christ. Situated between the two tirbutaries of the Gangas-
Varuna to the north and Asi to the south - it has attained immortality. The
city is mentioned in holy scriptures like ' Vamana Purana' , Buddhist texts
and in the epic 'Mahabharata'.
Varansi - The Land of Holy River Ganga
The life and activities in the city revolves around the holy river. Life on
the banks of the Ganga begins before dawn when thousands of pilgrims -men,
women and children, come down to the river to wait for the rising sun. Some
come in groups, some alone, all absorbed in their intense thoughts of
salvation, waiting for the moment when immersion in the sacred river will
cleanse them of their mundane sufferings and wash their sins away. Gradually
the sun rises, and the river mists slowly lift to reveal the magnificent
buildings that have a solemnity unmatched by any city in the world.
Soon after the sunrise, the city's great amphitheatre of ghats burst into
activity. In the charged holistic atmosphere of the morning venerable
Brahmins (known as Pandas) recite passages from sacred texts, priests
dispense holy ashed to pilgrims to mark their foreheads in veneration of the
gods. Boatmen, flower seller, shrill- voiced sellers selling sweetmenats and
knick knacks, sacred bulls and cows roam around.
Varansi - The City of Inspiration
Varanasi inspires one to reflect about life, to ponder about creation and
the insignificance of temporal wealth in the face of death. Along the
watre's edge, there are the burning ghats. The most sacred one is
Manikarnika, associated with Hoddess Parvati. Lord Shiva's wife.
Attractions of Varansi
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is the most sacred shrine in
Varanasi. The original Temple was destoryed by the Mughal Emperor,
Aurangzeb which was later restored by Rani Ahilyabai of Indore in
the 18th century. The Gold plating of the dome was done during the
19th century by maharaja Ranjit Singhj of Punjab. Foreiners entry
restricted. Durga Temple:
Dedicated to Goddess Durga, consort of Lord Shiva, the temple is
- Bharat Mata Temple
This temple is dedicated to Mother India. Just one kilometer from
the Varanasi station. The temple is built in the Mahatma Gandhi
Kashi Vidyapeeth which was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt. This
temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936 so that the
citizens could respect Mother India in statue form. The statute is
built in marble. The statue is a replica of undivided India in three
dimension which has the mountains, plains and oceans in right
- Tulsi Manas Temple
This temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. The temple is built in the
place where Goswami Tulsidas composed the epic 'Ramacharitramanas'
which provides us with detailed description of the history and deeds
of Lord Rama. Tulsi Manas Temple was constructed by a philanthropist
family in 1964.
About 10 kms away. this fabled place bears testimony to its great
past where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon to his disciples
expounding the principles of Buddhism. There are remains dating as
far back as the 3rd century B.C. when Emperor Ashoka founded various
institutions, stupas, monasteries and pillar edicts. The runs at
Sarnath and the art collection in the Archaeological Museum are
representations/ examples of the glorious past of Sarnath.
Archaeological remains are open from Sunrise to Sunset.
From their vantage point at the northern extremity of the Kaimur
hills, the impressive sandstone battle ments of Chunar command a
meander in the Ganga before the river curves north to Varansi 22km.
away. Evidence of the earliest occupation of the site dates it to
Vikaramaditya of Ujjain in 56 B.C. Chunar sandstone has been used
for centuries, most famously in Ashokan pillars - highly polished
for sheen and longevity- and is still quarried, leaving the
surrounding hills looking ravaged in places.
The almost impregnable citadel, protected by massive Mughal
ramparts, looks down onto the river, granced by a beautiful beach of
silver sand during the dry season; the views of the sunset are
stunning. Akbar stormed the fortress in 1575. and it was presided
over by Nawabs of Avadh until the British took it in 1764.
Jaunpur, 65 km northwest of Varansi. and founded by Feroz Shah in
1360 to guard the eastern flank of the Delhi Sultanate. The river
Gomti, which bisects Jaunpur, is spanned by the massive sixteenth-
century Akbari Bridge. Designed by an Afghan architect, the stone
structure's fifteen arches have withstood floods and earthquakes; at
its southern end, a large sculpture of a lion tussling with and
elephant doubles as a provincial milestone.
- Damekh Stupa
This 34 metre high Stupa dominates the site and is believed to mark
the spot where the Buddha preached his famous sermon. In its present
form it dates from around 500AD but was probably rebuilt a number of
times. The geometrical and floral patterns on the Stupa are typical
of the Gupta period, but excavations have revealed brickwork form
the Mauryan period around 200BC. Originally there was a second
Stupa, Dharmarajika Stupa, but his was reduced to rubble by 19the-
century treasure seekers.