Varnasi
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Varnasi


INTRODUCTION

Varanasi's prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrivalled. The revered and ancient city Varanasi is the religious centre of the world of Hindus. This is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Many still use the anglicized forms of Banaras or Benares, while pilgrims to it Kashi.

The city of Varnasi is situated on the west bank of the holiest of all Indian rivers, the Ganga or Ganges. The relationship between the sacred river is the essence of Varanasi - the and of sacred light. The Gnaga is believed to have flown from heaven to wash away the worldly sins of the human race of mortals. The life and activities in the city revolves around the holy river.

ORIENTATION

Varanasi is located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and extends latitude 2520' N and longitude 8300' E. Sandwiched between the rivers Varuna and Ashi as they join the Ganges.

HISTORY

The ancient most cities like Nineveh, Babylon and Thebes are now part of the history only but Varanasi is still exsisting, full of verve and life. It was here in Sarnath that Lord Buddha first enlightened the people with its divine teachings more than 25,000 years back. After this Varanasi became a great Hindu center, but was looted a number of times by Muslim invaders from the 11th century on. Although the foreign invaders looted this city repeatedly and read monuments and shrines to the ground, many old monuments still attract the tourists.Varanasi probably derives its name from the two rivers that flank the city, the Varanasi to the North and the Asi to the South.

FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

Budddh Purnima

This day commemorates the Lord Buddha's birth enlightenment and attainment of Nirvana, all on one day.

Mahashivratri

Devotees of Lord Shiva celebrate this on the amavasya.Orthodox devotees remain awake on the preceding night listening to hymns and sacred texts. In Varanasi a marriage procession of Lord Shiva is taken out starting from Mahamritunjaya temple, Daranagar to Kashi Vishwanathan temple via chowk.It is celebrated all over the country, especially in Northern India. Devotees throng the Shiva temples and the temples become venue of fun filled air.

Dhrupad Mela

This is a music festival which s celebrated for nearly five days and it falls in the month of March. It is performed by renowned artistes at Tulsi Ghat.

Hanuman Jayanti Janmotsav

Shilpgram Mela is held annually in the west of the city of Udaipur. Shilpgram Crafts Fair is organized to promote art and craft of Rajasthan. Since, Rajasthan has always been famous for its handicrafts and artwork; this fair is a perfect destination to try out the hand woven clothes, embroideries, mirror works and handicrafts.

Bharat Milap

Bharat Milap is a significant festival of Kashi and is held in October/November. Bharat Milap is celebrated in honor of Lord Ram's return to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and his reunion with Bharat his younger brother. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil.

PLACES OF WORSHIP

The Kasi Vishwanath Temple

Known as the golden temple, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city.Varanasi is said to be the point at which the first jyothirlinga,the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested his supremacy over other Gods, broke through the earth's crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varanasi

Tulsi Manas Temple

The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Rama and it was built in 1964 by a philanthropist family. This is the spot where Goswami Tulsidas composed the epic 'Ramacharitramanas' which provides us with the whole history of Lord Rama.

St. Mary's Church

Situated in the cantonment area of Benaras (Varanasi) the St. Mary's Church has a low tower, spire and projecting poitico which have a very notable architecture.

Nepali Temple

This temple is also referred by the name 'Kathwala temple' and was built by a Nepali king on Lalita ghat.This is the only temple of its style in India of beautiful woodwork which is believed to be not eaten by termites.

PLACES OF INTEREST

Benaras Hindu University

This is one among the largest and oldest university of North India. This is a great educational campus which is distributed over an area of 2,000 acres and was established by Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya.The campus also houses a huge Vishwanath temple which was built and maintained by the Birla family.

River Front (Ghats)

The great river banks at Varanasi built high with 18th and 19th centuries pavillions and palaces, temples and terraces, are lined with an endless chain of stone steps-the ghats-progressing along the whole of waterfront, altering in appearance with the dramatic seasonal fluctuations of the river level. Each of the hundred ghats big and small is marked by a lingam and occupies its own special place in the religious geography of the city.

Asi Ghat to Ghedra ghat

At the clay banked ASi ghat, the southernmost in the sacred city, at the confluence of the Asi and the Ganges pilgrims bathe prior to worshipping at a huge lingam under a peepal tree. Another lingam visited to that of an Asisangameshvara, the Lord of the confluence of the Asi, in a small marble temple just off the ghat.During the Lolarka Mela fair thousands come to propitiate the goods and pray for the son.

Harishchandra Ghat

Named for the legendry king said to have almost lost everything in a fit of self-abnegation, Harishchandra ghat one of the Varanasi’s two cremation or burning ghats, is easily recognizable from the smoke of its funeral pyres.

Kendra Ghat

Further north, the busy Kendra ghat is ignored by pilgrims on the Panchatirthi Yatra.Above its steps, a red and white striped temple houses the Kedareshvara lingam.

Chauki Ghat to Chaumsathi Ghat

This is distinguished by an enormous tree that shelters small stones shrines to the nagas, water snake deities.

Sarnath

About ten kms from Varanasi, is the place where Lord Buddha after enlightenment gave his first sermon or as the Buddhist say set the wheel of dharma or law rolling. Today Sarnath is considered as one of the richest place to have antiques since the Ashoka period to the 12th century. Suggested reading on the Buddhist places in Uttar Pradesh.

Dashashwamedha Ghat

Dashashwamedha Ghat the second and business of the five tirthas on the Panchatirthi yatra,lies past the plain flat roofed building that house the shrine of Shitala.This is varanasi's most popular and accessible bathing ghat,with rows of pandas sitting on wooden platforms under bamboo umbrellas.

SHOPPING

Silk weaving in Varanasi is a cottage industry and in many areas of the city, especially the Muslim quarters one can see looms at work all day and is also very famous for handicrafts.The'Benarsi Sarees'here in Varanasi is one of the most liked variety not only in India but also across the world.

The other handicrafts items in the shopping list includes Brassware, copperware, ivoryware,glass bangles, wood and clay toys and exquisite gold jewellery.The other shopping interests include Bhadohi carpets and musical instruments. The main shopping area in Varanasi are the Chowk, Vishwanath gali, Gyanvapi, Thatheri Bazar, Lahurabir, godulia, Dashaswamedh and Golghar. Varanasi is also famous for its Mango fruit-'Langda Aam' and delicious sweets.

EAT OUTS

1.Hotel Hindusthan International
Varanasi

2.Phulwari Restaurant & Sami Cafe
D 37/33, Near Bright Studio
Godowlia
Varanasi

3.Limbdi Corner
Varanasi

4.Kovil Restaurant
Varanasi

5.Basant Bar Hotel and Sangeet Restaurant
near Golden temple old city

6.Padmini Hotel
Mahmoorganj

7.Haifa Hotel
Assi Ghat

8.Garden restaurant
Near Court

9.Aman Restaurant
near Vijay Cinema

10.Ashiyana Restaurant
Varuna Bridge
Clark Road

ACCOMMODATION

1.Alka Hotel
Varanasi, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
0542 328445

2.Hotel Taj Ganges
Nadesar Palace Grounds, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
0542 2503001

3.Hotel Pradeep
Jagatganj, Varanasi
UP, India
0542-2204963, 2204994

4.RAMADA PLAZA JHV
The Mall, Cantonment,
Varanasi - 221001
INDIA
0542 2510000

5.Hotel Clarks
Varanasi, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
0542 66181940

6.Hotel Divya
Hotel Divya,B.1/101,A-B Assi,
Varanasi
0542 2311305

7.Hotel Hindusthan International www.hhihotels.com
Chaitganj
Varanasi, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
0542 2411484

8.Varanasi Ashok
The Mall, Varanasi Cantt.
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221002
0542 2501022

9.Best Western Ideal Hotel
The Mall Cantt
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221002
0542 348250

10.Radisson Hotel Varanasi
The Mall Cantonment, Varanasi
05422501515

HOW TO REACH

By Air

Indian Airlines flies to Babatpur airport which is 22 km. from Varanasi and 30 km. from Sarnath There is a. direct, daily flight connection between Varanasi and New Delhi. It also connects Varanasi to Delhi, Agra,. Khajuraho, Calcutta, Mumbai, Lucknow and Bhuvaneshwar. For travel reservations contact Indian Airlines.

By Rail

Since Varanasi lies in the heartland of the North Indian plains, it is well connected to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and other parts of India. There are two railway stations in Varanasi, the Kashi Junction and the Varanasi Junction (also known as Varanasi Cantonment). Rajdhani Express from Delhi or from Calcutta passes through Varanasi too. One can also catch trains from Mughalsarai, just 10 km south of Varanasi.

By Road

Varanasi is connected to many key cities in India. Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai are well linked to the city by Road.