Varanasi or Benaras is said to be the oldest city in India. Considered holiest by the Hindus it is considered ideal place to be cremated in order to achieve salvation. The step embankments on the Ganges River are populated with pilgrims, sadhus and tourists alike.
Varanasi is famous for its Ghats of which there are many. The city finds veneration among the Jains and Buddhists as well. It was at Sarnath near by that Buddha delivered his first sermon under the Bodhi tree. The city was known as Kashi during the olden times and the Maharaja is the chief cultural patron.
|Maha Aarti at Varanasi|
The city is home to greats like Bismillah Khan shehnai player and is associated with Pandit Ravi Shanker the famous sitarist. Being the cultural seat of Uttar Pradesh in North India the city finds many patrons of fine and performing arts.
In modern era Benaras Hindu University is a notable institution of India. There are many reputed technical institutes in this destination. The city is well industrialized as well. The Ganges which I visited at Allahabad is the chief focus here and it is auspicious to perform the holy rites on its banks.
A large number of foreign tourists visit Varanasi on spiritual quest and sightseeing. They partake in some religious ceremonies as well. Discourse with sadhus is a common practice for pilgrims and tourists alive. Maha Aarti is a grand spectacle performed here. This is an assemblage of priests who conduct prayer sessions on the banks of Ganges.
Festivals being one of the seven holy cities of India a number of Hindu festivals are organized here. Besides Diwali, Hanuman Jayanti, Shivratri and Ramilla are major festivals celebrated in this town.
Places of interest:
- Ahilya Ghat
- Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple
- Jantar Mantar
- Aswamegh Ghat
- Kala-Bhairava Temple
- Birla Mandir
- Durga Temple
There are a number of shopping centers many dealing in artifacts of interest to foreign tourists. Modern Malls, Eateries and Cinema Houses abound.
|Boating on Ganges|
In order to facilitate tourism a number of hotels ranging from budget to four star are established here. The holy city of Varanasi teems with tourists during the winter times. Most of the tourists are inbound but a large number of pilgrims also arrive here from all over India.