Varanasi for a long time has been the cultural capital of the India. Since the old days it has proudly carried the legacy of Indian tradition and culture on its shoulder. Spiritualism, Philosophy and Hinduism have been associated with this city for centuries. Varanasi, which is very often referred as the city of light, is the eternal pilgrimage destination of Hindus. They visit this city to gain salvation in life. There are many temples, ashrams and ghats in this holy city. Buddhism and Jainism have also found an important place in the history of Varanasi. Various Buddhist stupas and Jain temples stand along with Hindu temples.
Varanasi is situated on the bank of river Ganga. The mythological legacy and aura around this city is quite awe-inspiring. The presence of holy river Ganga add to the mysticism of this truly amazing city. Hindus consider river Ganga as sacred and believe that all the mortal sins get washed away after a dip in the holy water. Varanasi is popular for its enigmatic ghats. There are more than hundred ghats in the Varanasi and most of them are as old as city itself. These ghats are flooded with devotees through out the year, who take a dip in water to cleanse themselves from all their past sins. The majestic temples and many other holy sites of this city draw large number of tourists every year. Varanasi is considered to be one of the oldest human inhabited cities of the world.
Tourist Attractions of Varanasi
Temples: Being the most sacred destination of Hindus, Varanasi is home to many mesmerizing temples. People often term this city as museum of temples or city of temples. It is estimated that there are more than 2000 temples in Varanasi. Each year thousands of people from all over the world visit these temples. Majority of temples are situated along the Ghats of river Ganga adding to the charm of this holy river. Some of the popular temples are Kashi Vishwanath, Durga temple, Sankat Mochan, Tulsi Manas, Bharat Mata and Nepali temple.
Among them the holiest temple is Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to lord Shiva. This majestic temple is located in the middle of old Varanasi near Dashashwamedh ghat. Inside the temple there are holy Jyotirlingas or shrines of lord Shiva, Vishwanatha. It is one of the most significant temples of Hindus. Sankat Mochan Mandir is the most popular temple of Lord Hanuman. Specially on Tuesdays and Saturdays, this temple is filled with large number of devotees. Most unusual temple is Bharat Mata Mandir. This temple does not have any idols of god other than the large map of India. This temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi.
Ghats : Holy Ganga passes through the heart of this majestic city. Most of the riverbank are covered with huge pavilions of concrete steps running right to the water body of holy Ganga. These are popularly known as Ghats and are major source of the tourist attractions. There are more than 100 Ghats in Varanasi and each day people take holy bath in these Ghats. Dasaswamedh, Man Mandir, Asi, Lalita and Manikarnika are the most popular among Ghats of Varanasi. Of them Dasaswamedh Ghat is the most popular one. This Ghat has still maintained its eternal beauty and aura.
Asi is the southern most ghat and is located near the meeting point of rivers Ganga and Asi. Pilgrims take bath here specially before worshiping at the lingam. Manikarnika Ghat is the oldest and holiest of all ghats of Varanasi. It is a great sight to watch devotees taking bath early morning in these ghats. One can also try out boat ride from one ghat to other.
Sarnath: Located 10 km from Varanasi this sleepy town is a very important destination for Buddhists. It is believed that lord Buddha came here after attaining enlightenment at Bodhgaya and delivered his first sermon. King Ashoka who became the follower of Buddhism after battle of Kalinga, erected Buddhist stupas in Sarnath and many more monuments were installed in the later year. Some famous stupas are Chaukhandi and Dhamek. Sarnath museum is also an important travel attraction of this town. This museum houses large number of the images and relics of lord Buddha. It also houses national emblem of India that is Lion capital of Ashokan pillar.
Apart from this, there are many other activities visitors can try out while being in Varanasi. The bazaars of this city are famous for the colourful items. Varanasi saree is a popular brand and is in demand all over the world. Benaras Hindu University is one of the most distinguished study centre of the country and is frequented by number of tourists. For years it has welcomed scholars, philosophers and poets from all over the world. Another place you can visit is Alamgir mosque. It is a beautiful confluence of Hindu and Mughal style of architectures.