See Varanasi, one of the world’s oldest living cities, on a 2-night trip from New Delhi! Enjoy a morning and evening boat ride on the Ganges River and marvel at the Ghats, stone steps leading to the riverbank used for centuries by devotees as bathing and cremation sites. You’ll learn about India’s three ancient religious traditions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism – as you walk through Varanasi’s old city with an expert guide.
The city’s life revolves around its seven km long sweep of about 100 bathing ghats that skirt the west bank of the Ganges. Most of them are used for bathing. Some are used for cremating bodies. It is believed that cremation at Manikarnika Ghat ensures a safe place in Heaven, as the cremators of this ghat are believed to have the patronage of Shiva. The furthermost upstream ghat is Assi Ghat , which marks the confluence of the Ganges and the Assi rivers. It is said that after striking down demon Shumbha and nishumbha, Durga’s sword fell and created a curved ditch, which later became the Assi Channel. Nearby is the Tulsi Ghat, where Goswami Tulsidas lived till his death.Hanuman Ghat, Dashashvamedh Ghat, Varanasi’s liveliest bathing place was constructed by Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao.Kedar Ghat is shrine popular with Bengalis and South Indians.
Mansarovar Ghat was built by Raja Man Singh of Amber and named after the Tibetan lake at the foot of Mt. Kailash, Shiva’s Himalayan home, at the top of this ghat there is a sacred pond , in replicated form ,representing the famous sacred lake of the same name lying in Tibet.
BHU is the largest residential university in Asia. It has been developed as a center for education in Indian art, music, culture and philosophy and for the study of Sanskrit. The campus also houses the Bharat Kala Bhawan that has a fine collection of miniature paintings and sculptures that dates from 1st to 15th centuries. The 5-square kilometers campus of BHU, houses as many as 55 hostels. The campus has other attractions too such as the Birla Mandir that is popularly called VT. Close by is an airstrip and a flying club. The central library named Sayajirao Gaekwad Library is also worth a visit. Apart from various manuscripts and periodicals, it houses as many as 14 lacks or 1.4 million separate volumes. There is a 1000 bedded hospital too. It is called Sir Sunder Lal Hospital. Apart from concrete buildings, the campus features open spaces, greenery and peacocks, the national bird of India, which are found roaming around almost every part of the university.
Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum
Bharat Kala Bhavan is an art and architecture museum situated inside the BHU campus. Here, one can find a large number ofBuddhist and Hindu sculptures, paintings and other materials of archaeological relevance.
This Bhavan was founded in 1920 A.D. In its main hall, there is a figure of a man standing on one leg, holding one hand on his hip and lifting a mass of stone above his head with the other hand.
It is believed that this figure is of Lord Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana. Most of the images in this Bhavan ascertain the presence of Krishna cult in Kashi during the 15th and 16th century.
Shri Kashi Vishwanath Mandir
The history of Vishwanath Temple that is also called Golden Temple at times is full of ups and downs. The temple and city has always been on the receiving end of the invaders be it Afghans, Turks, Rohila or Marathas. The temple has been built and razed to the ground several times in the history. It was first destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji in the 13th century and was later rebuild. Emperor Akbar donated several acres of villages to the trust that was later cut down substantially by Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb was a fundamentalist who hated every possible religion and sects in India including Sufi and Shiite order among the Muslims. Rani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore built the present temple that stands in Varanasi, in the year 1776. Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore donated the 800-kilogram Gold-plating of the towers that gives the temple its colloquial name.
Durga-temple The Durga temple is considered one of the most important temples in Varanasi. Built in 18th century the Durga temple is stained in Red with ochre. Though the temple might have Bangla influence spiritually, it is built exclusively on the North Indian pattern called Nagara. Multi-tired spires that decrease in diameter in horizontal pattern mark this style. Actually separate spires are clubbed together one over another to give this feel. Though this style looks less attractive than the South-Indian Gopuram pattern, it has a feel of its own. Lately, people have started calling it Monkey Temple due to the menace created by the monkeys that inhabit the campus of this Temple.
Sankat Mochan Temple
Sankat Mochan Mandir do not have much historical significance but is a good place to visit at least once. No body knows who established this temple. It was actually very small in its early phase. In the due course various ‘Mahants’ collected funds to upgrade the structure and today it boasts off a fairly large complex. The temple has every possible facility for the devotees. There is an inn too where devotees can stay overnight. The must attend religious function of this temple is the famous “Pratah Aarti” or dawn offering that takes place at 5 AM in the morning. The “Sandhya Aarti” or the evening offering is performed to Lord Sankat Mochan at around 8:30 in the night. “The Rathri Aarti” is performed at around 10 PM after which the gates are closed.
Tulsi Manas Temple
manas Tulsi Manas Temple has a very historical as well as cultural importance for not only Varanasi but also for the whole of India. This is precisely because the place is connected to an event that still rules the Indian Psyche. The famous Hindu Epic of Ramayana was composed at this very place. Goswami Tulsi Das was the man who composed Ramayana in Hindi in the form of “Ram Charit Manas”. Prior to that, Ramayana was only available in Sanskrit and that is why it was out of the reach of general masses.
The Goddess Annapurna is looked upon as the provider of food and the sustainer of prosperity. Legend has it
that Shiva made an agreement with Goddess Annapurna that she look after life before death, ensuring that no one went hungry in the sacred city, while he would ensure they received moksha (freedom from the cycle of birth & death).
Sakshi Vinayaka Temple
About 56 temples dedicated to Lord Ganesha, spread all over the city; some of them are Sakshi Vinay
aka Temple, Sidda Vinayaka, Manikarnika Ghat, Kark Vinayaka, Lalak Kund, Bhadeni, Durga Vinayaka, Abhayapad Vinayaka, Sakchhi Vinayaka. Ganesha – the elephant-deity riding a mouse – has become one of the commonest mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. This not only suggests the importance of Ganesha, but also shows how popular and pervasive this deity is in t
he minds of the masses.
Bharat Mata Temple
The Bharat Mata temple at Varanasi is the only temple dedicated to Mother India. It is located in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth campus. The Bharat Mata temple was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936. The statute of Bharat Mata is built in marble and is a model of undivided India, depicting the mountain
s, plains and oceans. The most peculiar thing about the Bharat Mata Temple is that instead of the customary gods and goddesses, it houses a relief map of India, carved out of marble.