Varanasi (Banaras) in the early Morning
Banaras Hindu University (BHU)
Pillars of Ashoka
Sarnath Buddhist Temples
Welcome to Varanasi (Banaras),
Varanasi, also commonly known as Benares or Banaras and Kashi, is a district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is situated on the banks of the River Ganges. It is regarded as a holy city by Buddhists and Jains, and is the holiest place in the world in Hinduism (and center of earth in Hindu Cosmology). It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and probably the oldest of India.
The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river's religious importance. The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years. The Benares Gharana form of Indian classical music developed in Varanasi. American writer Mark Twain wrote: "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together."
Alamgir Mosque, built by the Mughal Emperor Aurangaseb, has the unique distinction of being the largest structure located on the banks of the river Ganges in Varanasi. It is believed that the Mosque is placed at a place where a majestic Krishna temple was located. This temple was destroyed and the Mosque was constructed at that place during Mughal invasion in India.
The Mosque is at a picturesque location overlooking Panchganga Ghat and is bordered by the majestic Ganges. The architectural style of the mosque is a blend of Hindu and Persian styles of construction and is very imposing. The edifice is magnificent with carved pillars, turrets and marvelous domes.
Annapurna or Annapoorna is the Hindu Goddess of nourishment. Anna means food and grains. Purna means full, complete and perfect. She is form of Parvati, the consort of Shiva. The most well-known temple dedicated to Goddess Annapurna is in Varanasi, U.P., India. Adjacent to the Sanctum of the Goddess is the Kasi Viswanath temple. The two are separated by only a few yards. Annapurna is regarded as the queen of Varanasi alongside her husband Vishweshwar (Shiva), the King of Varanasi. In the temple, at noon time, food offerings to the Goddess are distributed to the elderly and disabled daily. During the Autumn Navaratri food is distributed on a larger scale.
Asi Ghat, the Ghat located at the confluence of Assi River and the holy Ganges, is the southernmost Ghat in Kashi. The Ghat is renowned for a spectacular and large Shiva Lingam placed under a Peepal Tree. This is a favorite spot for Hindu devotees to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva after taking holy dip in the river.
This religiously important place got its reference in many puranas, including Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Agni Purana and Padma Purana. Legendary stories describe this Ghat as the place where Goodess Durga thrown out her sword after killing the Asura demons Shumbha- Nishumbha.
The place breasts one more ancient Shiva temple enshrining a Shiva lingam famously known as Asisangameshwar lingam. It was at this place the renowned saint poet Tulasi Das completed the famous literary work Ramcharitmanas. Hindu devotees throng to this Ghat to take holy dip in the confluence and it is a very busy place with performance of Hindu religious rituals all through the year.
Baba Keenaram Sthal is one of the oldest Shakti Peethas and spiritual centers in the world. The full name of this place is Baba Keenaram Sthal-Kreem Kund, situated at Ravindrapuri in Varanasi District of Uttar Pradesh, India. Here the body of Baba Keenaram jee is buried in a tomb which is known as the Samadhi. Though this place is known as the work place of great saint Baba Keenaram jee and introduced by his name, it is believed to be thousands year old.
This place is regarded as the headquarters and pilgrim of followers of Aghora. It is one of the most visited places of Varanasi, by foreign tourists, writers, researchers and documentary makers. The present head (Abbot), since 1978, of this place is Baba Siddharth Gautam Ram.
Banaras Hindu University (BHU), is a Central university, located in Varanasi, India, which is also the largest residential university in Asia, with over 12,000 students living on its campus. BHU was founded in 1916 by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. The campus spread over 1350 acre (5.5 km?) campus was built on land donated by then Kashi Naresh.
It has 140 teaching departments and more than 55 hostels for boys and girls. The total enrollment in the University stands at just over 15000, including students from all over India and abroad. Several of its colleges, including engineering (IT-BHU), science, linguistics, journalism and mass communication, law and medicine (IMS-BHU), Faculty of Management Studies, are ranked amongst the best in India.
Varanasi and its neighboring areas are well known for carpet making. The Varanasi-Bhadohi-Mirzapur belt in Uttar Pradesh produces maximum number of carpets in the country. The carpets produced in Varanasi region are famous for the excellence in quality and design. Every carpet that is woven here has a distinctive grace and unmatched style that speak volumes about the carpet weaving tradition of Varanasi and its surrounding areas. The stylish and quality of the carpets also proves the genius of the traditional carpet weavers of Varanasi region.
A majority of carpets exported from India come from Varanasi and its neighboring areas. This carpet belt specializes in traditional Indian woolen carpets and Durries. The Bhadohi carpets match the gracefulness of carpet weaving in any part of the world and are distinguished for their beauty and elegance and are worth buying. For carpet lovers the Varanasi-Bhadohi-Mirzapur belt offers great shopping opportunities as the carpets are not only cheaper yet stylish and fashion oriented. The Varanasi-Bhadohi-Mirzapur belt also produces hand tufted, Indo-Tibetan and low, medium and high Knotted Carpets.
Varanasi has, since times immemorial, been hailed as a premier centre for some of the finest handicrafts. The most renowned craft of the city is Silk weaving. 'Banarasi Sarees' produced by local craftsman are among the most preferred, not only in India but across the world. Brassware, copperware, ivory work , glass bangles, wood, stone and clay toys and exquisite gold jewellery are some of the other crafts the city is famous for. Bhadohi Carpets and musical instruments are among the other shopping attractions.
Banaras is one of the rich weaving craft centre of India, famous for Brocade saris and allover dress material. Exclusive varieties of the saris are Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tishu, and Butidar which are made of silk warp and silk weft, on plain/satian ground base, brocaded with extra weft patterns in different layouts introducing Buties, Bells, creepers, Buttas in ground, border and Anchal for getting glamours appearance.
Brocade refer to those textiles where in patterns are created in weaving by transfixing or thrusting the pattern-thread between the warp. In regular weaving the weft thread passes over and under the warp thread regularly. But when brocade designs in gold, silver silk or cotton threads are to be woven, special threads are transfixed in between by skipping the passage of the regular weft over a certain number of warp threads (depending upon the pattern) and by regularising the skipping by means of pre-arranged heddles for each type of patterning.
Famous Banarsi Sarees : Banarasi Silk Jamdani, Jangla Saree, Jamawar Tanchoi Saree, Tissu Saree, Cutwork Saree, Butidar Saree etc.
The Kashi Hindu University has a museum that has an excellent collection of precious and extraordinary historical objects, statues, pictures, paintings and documents. Museum is small but very well maintained and gives an over view of the very old city of Varanasi.
Bharat Mata Temple, a fairly new temple built in 1936 and located at Kashi Vidyapeeth Campus, is a shrine dedicated to Mother India. This temple was built by a Gandhian follower Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt and was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. It enshrines a marble structure of Mother India, a fine three dimensional structure of undivided India. The marble structure, rather a map of India, is constructed at the right proportions of oceans, lands and hills. This is a unique temple and a symbol of patriotism. This temple is placed itself in the settings of natural beauty overlooking the Ganges and holy Ghats. The temple is in the shape of pentagonal cone with five pillars supporting the structure.
70 km. from Varanasi, it's a breathtakingly beautiful picnic spot in the Chandraprabha forests, within which are the Rajdari and Devdari waterfalls. The park established in 1957, sprawls over 9,60 hectares. It serves as an ideal habitat for a host of animal species including Leopard, Beer, Cheetal, Chausingha and others.
Chaukhandi Stupa is an important Buddhist stupa in Sarnath, located 13 kilometres from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. Stupas are descendents of burial mounds and serve as a shrine for a relic of the Buddha. The Chaukhandi Stupa is thought originally to have been built as a terraced temple during the Gupta period between the 4th to 6th Century to mark the site where Lord Buddha and his first disciples met traveling from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath. Later Govardhan, the son of a Raja, modified the stupa to its present shape by building the octagonal tower to commemorate the visit of Humayun, the powerful Mughal ruler.
Today the stupa is a high earthen mound covered with a brickwork edifice topped by an octagonal tower. It is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Tucked away 40 kms. from Varanasi, Chunar is the place where religion, history and nature intermingle. Situated in the Vindhya ranges on the banks of holy river Ganga, its scenic and calm atmosphere enchants visitors. Chunar is also an important health resort due to its ideal climate. The massive Chunar fort, standing at a height of 80' to 175' from the ground level and spread over a massive area of 34,000sq.ft., is the prime attraction of the place. Inside the fort is an interesting Sun dial, a dep well and an open pavilion called the Sonwa Mandap. Chunar is accessible by road from Varanasi and an overnight stay is possible at the ASI rest house within the fort premises.
Darbhanga Ghat, a renowned holy spot among the Hindu devotes, is an ideal location to have the religious rites associated with the death of the relatives or friends. This is situated in the bank of the holy Ganges between two other Ghats famously known as Dashaswamedh Ghat and Rana Mahal Ghat.
The ghat is ideally placed above an impressive building. The building serves as a place for the people to overlook the religious ceremonies in the Ghat. A temple enshrining the Shiva Lingam is an attraction to this place. The premises of the Ghat offer all kinds of facilities for performing religious rituals.
Dashaswamedh Ghat, a much acclaimed religious spot, is a very favorite among the Hindu devotees and is considered as the main Ghat. It is believed that Lord Brahma performed his victorious Dasa_Ashwamedha (ten-horses) sacrifice in this spot. Legends claim that a similar kind of ten horse sacrifice was done here in the second century by Bhara Shiva Naga rulers.
The Ghat was renovated by Bajirao Pesava I in 1740 AD and later by the Queen of Indore, the princess Ahilyabai Holkar in 1774. This place attracts huge inflow of tourist everyday. Dashaswamedh Ghat has credited with many religious temples and destinations nearby. This is one of the safe ghats with well laid steps and perfect platforms for the devotees to perform the rituals.
Dhamek Stupa (also spelled Dhamekh and Dhamekha) is a massive stupa located at Sarnath, 13 km away from Varanasi. The Dhamek Stupa was built ca. 500 CE to replace an earlier structure commissioned by the great Mauryan king Ashoka in 249 BCE, along with several other monuments, to commemorate his pilgrimage there. Stupas originated as circular mounds encircled by large stones. King Ashoka built stupas to enshrine small pieces of calcinated bone and other relics of Buddha and his disciples. An Ashoka pillar with an edict engraved on it stands near the site.
In its current shape, the stupa is a solid cylinder of bricks and stone reaching a height of 43.6 meters and having a diameter of 28 meters. It is the most massive structure in Sarnath. The basement seems to have survived from Ashoka's structure: the stone facing is chiseled and displays delicate floral carvings of Gupta origin. The wall is covered with exquisitely carved figures of humans and birds, as well as inscriptions in the Brahmi script.
The Durga Mandir (Temple) is situated in Ramnagar of Banaras (or Varanasi). It is believed that it was built 500 years ago which is under control of royal family of Banaras State currently. This temple is devoted to Hindu deity Durga. The temple has a large stone built pond with it. The Durga Mandir boasts of its fine stone works, which is a fabulous example of north Indian stone work arts.
The temple is based on square shape. It has a square campus. The main building of temple is built of a square shaped stage. The shape of building is also square. The stage of the temple contains rooms in it, which are used for temple's staff purposes and sometimes, for Yagya. The campus is a green campus with trees and plants. Visitor can walk around the main temple building in the campus. It's useful since, some worshippers walk around the building of temples for religious reasons in Hinduism.
The temple has a huge square pond in front of it. The pond is with stone stairs in all sides and four watch pillars on each corner. There is a shade made of stone also at one side of the pond. The stone work on the walls of temple building also emphasizes the square shape. The temple wall has designs built in square shaped blocks and ornamental scrawls.
Gyan Kup or Gyan Vapi Well is an acclaimed religious spot in Varanasi. The name literally means well of wisdom. Gyan Vapi well, an imposing pavilion, is located at the entrance to the renowned holy Kashi Vishwanath temple. This Well was built by Gwalior Rani Baiza Bai in 1828 AD. Some parts of the temple structure including the central dome and two peaks are placed in this pavilion. It is believed that the waters in the well provide the spiritual enlightenment and the pavilion is considered to be highly revered. Attaining the perfect wisdom of spirituality is offered in this well.
Hanuman Ghat, earlier known as Ramesvaram Ghat, is situated at a holy spot famed as Juna Akhara in Varanasi. Legends say that this Ghat was built by Lord Ram himself and hence this Ghat is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the most favored disciple of Lord Ram. This Ghat is an impressive attraction among the wrestlers and body builders as Lord Hanuman is a synonym of strength.
A renowned Vaishnava Saint, Vallabhacharya, taught his disciples magnificent stories and the glories of Lord Krishna at this place. A temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman and another temple founded by saint poet Tulsi Das are main attractions in this Ghat.
Harischandra Ghat is one among two cremation grounds with burning facilities in Varanasi. This is named after the King Harishchandra, who spent his part of the life as a keeper of a crematorium to preserve his truth and virtues. This Ghat existed here many centuries and it was in 1740, a Hindu saint named Narayana Dikshit renovated it. Many people bring the mortal remains of their relatives and friends to this place to pyre. It is believed that one can attain 'Moksha' (Salvation), if cremated in this place. An imposing temple is adorning this place. The temple encloses beautiful structures of Harisdchandra, Vriddha Kedara and Adi Manikanteshwra.
Jantar Mantar, a renowned observatory established in 1737 by the famous Maharaja of Jaipur Jai Singh. This Jantar Mandir at Varanasi is a replica of Jantar Mandir in New Delhi and other places. This observatory was built to find out local time, planetary and star movements. This was used to predict the eclipses and also the declination of sun. This observatory is credited with many instruments to record the position, speed and motion of the stars. Indian Astronomical theories and calculations are practiced here.
The structure of the Jantar Mantar is captivating with complex architectural styles. It is a real attractive spot to astronomers, scholars, engineers, architects and scientists. Some of the valuable instruments (Yanthra) available here are Digansha Yantra, Krantivritta Yantra, Dhruva Yantra and Prakash Yantra.
Barely 3 km. from Robertsganj, Kaimur is a 500 sq.km. spread of forests with a variety of wildlife. Beautyof Sone and Echo valley are best witnessed her. It was established in 1982 and abounds in leopard, black buck, Chittal, Chinkara, Ratel, Peafowl and Blue-bull.
It is the ancient temple of Varanasi near the Head Post Office, VishesharGanj. God KalBhairav is believed as "Kotwal Of Varanasi" , without his permission no one can stay in Kashi.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in Benaras, the Holiest Place of Hindus (and center of earth in Hindu Cosmology) where at least once in life a Hindu is expected to do pilgrimage and if possible pour the remains (ashes) of cremated ancestors here on the River Ganges.
The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganges, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanatha or Vishweshwara meaning the Ruler of the universe. The temple town that claims to be the oldest living city in the world, with 3500 years of documented history is also called Kashi and hence the temple is popularly called as Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Due to this 15.5m high golden spire, the temple is sometimes called as the Golden Temple, similar to the Golden temple, a Sikh Gurudwara at Amritsar.
The temple complex consists of a series of smaller shrines, located in a small lane called the Vishwanatha Galli, near the river. The linga the main deity at the shrine is 60 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference housed in a silver altar. There are small temples for Kaalbhairav, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri in the complex. There is a small well in the temple called the Jnana Vapi (the wisdom well) and it is believed that the Jytorlinga was hidden in the well to protect it at the time of invasion. It is said that the main priest of the temple had jumped in the well with the Shiv Ling in order to protect the (Jyoti-r)Ling from the invaders.
It is the most important Shiva temple of the city. The stone linga here is said to have emerged spontaneously. The myth narrate that a pure hearted devotee of Shiva prayed for a chance to visit the famous Kedareshvara Shiva temple in the Himalayas. Shiva, who is the god of destruction is always kind to his bhaktas (devotees). Shiva was touched by his bhakta's piety and instead of bringing him to the mountain, Shiva brought his image to the bhakta. This image (linga) emerged out of a plate of rice and lentils. It can be still seen by the believers on the rough surface of the natural stone linga.
Maharaja Banaras Vidya Mandir Museum is located at Fort Ramnagar in Varanasi.The museum was established in the year 1964.Previouly the building of the museum was the palace of Maharaja of Benaras.The museum contains various types of objects including weapons, manuscripts, palanquins, astronomical clock, paintings etc. The pictorial depiction of Dussehra celebrations and Ram Leela and a textile woven with ivory are worth mentioning.
Man Mandir Ghat, dating back to 1600 and renovated in 19th century, was built by Raja Savai Man Singh and the Ghat is named after him. Man Mandit Ghat, originally known as Somesvara Ghat, has a fine balcony at the north end of the Ghat. A small observatory founded by Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur is also seen in this Ghat.
This Ghat houses many famous temples such as Sthuladanta Vinayaka, Rameshwara and Someshwara temples. Someshwara lingam is the replica of Someshwara lingam in Somanath (Gujrat), one of the nine Jyotirlingas. Many Hindu devotees visit this Ghat to offer prayers to Someshwar.
Manikarnika Ghat, also known popularly as Mahasmasana, is one of two burning Ghats in Varanasi. The other Ghat where burning is allowed is Harishchandra Ghat. Manikarnika Ghat is the prominent among the two and is dating back to many centuries. The mythology points the relation of this Ghat to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The popular belief is the burning the dead bodies in this cremation ground is a religious way to attain Moksha, the salvation.
A Shiva Durga temple, built in 1850 by Maharaja of Awadh, is a sacred shrine at this Ghat. A sacred pond known as Cakra-Pushkarini Kund is also adorning this holy place. It is believed that this pond was dug by Lord Vishnu and was existed before the origin of holy Ganges.
On the route of Daranagar to Kalbhairav temple this temple of Lord Shiva is situated. Just besides this temple there is a Well of much religious importance, whose water is said to be mixture of several underground streams and good for eliminating several diseases.
New Vishwanath Temple, also popularly known as the Golden Temple, is situated in the campus of Banares Hindu University (BHU). The temple is built by the Birla family and hence it is also known as Birla temple.
This new Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is having the similar structure of Kashi Vishwanath temple. The temple a marvel in marbles is designed by the founder of BHU Madan Mohan Malavya. The walls of the temple are adorned with the spectacular sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The temple is open to all people irrespective of religion, caste and creed.
Panchganga Ghat, a sacred located at the confluence of five holy rivers (Panchganga) meet. The rivers are The Ganga, The Saraswati, The Dhupapapa, The Yamuna and The Kirna. This Ghat is a major Hindu religious attraction in Varanasi. This is the place where Alamgir Mosque built by Mughal Aurangseb is located. It is believed that the mosque is constructed on a place where there was an ancient Vishnu temple.
The great scholarly teacher Vaidant Ramanand, the Guru of great saint Kabir, preached his disciples at this place. The saint poet Tulsi Das composed the famous literary work Vinay-Patrikahere by staying at this holy place. This Ghat is credited with eight water front locations for doing religious rituals.
The pillars of Ashoka are a series of columns dispersed throughout the northern Indian subcontinent, erected or at least inscribed by the Mauryan king Ashoka during his reign in the 3rd century BCE. Originally, there must have been many pillars but only nineteen survive with inscriptions. Many are preserved in a fragmentary state. Averaging between forty and fifty feet in height, and weighing up to fifty tons each, all the pillars were quarried at Chunar, just south of Varanasi and dragged, sometimes hundreds of miles, to where they were erected.
The Vindhya and the Kaimur ranges have at least 250 rock art sites spread across them. The cave paintings range from the mesolithic to the meolithic and chalcolothic ages. Among important cave painting sites found in the region are - the Panchmukhi caves (8 km from Robertsganj), Kauva Khoh rock shelters (near Churk) Lakhania caves (22 km, from Robertsganj) Lakhma caves (near Mau Kalan village).
Ramnagar Fort, constructed by Maharaja Balwant Singh in 17th century, is a medieval period fort located in the banks of the river Ganges. This was the royal residence of Raja of Banares, also known as Maharaja of Kashi. Still this fort continues as the residential palace of the royal family members.
The hall of public audience, popularly known as 'Durbar Hall', is a main attraction in the Ramnagar Fort. A blend of Indian and Islamic architecture can be seen in the construction of the Fort. The fort is made up of precious marble stones and the glossy marbles give the fort an eye catching appearance.
Ramnagar Museum, a scholarly museum renowned as the Banaras Vidya Mandir Museum, is located interior to Ramnagar Fort. This praise worthy museum is a home of many medieval period artifacts, collection of many items belonged to the Royal family of Banaras and also many handicraft items.
The museum also displays arms and armors used in the royal period, elephant saddles, decorated art pieces, ornate palanquins, textiles of various kinds, ancient manuscripts, gold-plated howdahs, furniture and many other artifacts. This museum attracts thousands of tourists every year.
Rana Mahala Ghat, built in 1670 AD, was built by the Udaipur ruler during that period and is located at the western side of Varanasi. The Ghat is perfectly placed on the banks of Ganges so that one can perform all religious rituals without much difficulty and can have a holy dip in the Ganges waters. This place is often visited by the Hindu devotees to perform purification of the mind and body.
The Ghat is located at unspoiled and unpolluted surroundings. An ancient temple known as Vakratunda Vinayaka Temple, dedicated to Lord Ganapati, is placed at this Ghat. This temple attracts many tourists visiting Varanasi.
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple is one of the sacred temples of Hindu god Hanuman in the city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The word Sankat Mochan means deliverer from troubles. In the mandir, special offerings are sold like the special "besan ke ladoo" (sweets). Also Hanuman ji is offered with marigold flower garland. Outside the temple, there are many vendors who sell pendants, rings, incense and holy flowers to the devotees. The temple is unique in a way that both Rama and Hanuman statues face each other.
Near the Sindhia Ghat, there is an important temple of "Goddess of Remedy" Devi Sankatha. Inside its premises there is a huge statue of a Lion. Also there is nine temples of nine planets nearby to this temple.
Sarnath is the main place to visit while on tour around Varanasi. A much sacred pilgrimage and tourist spot in country. Sarnath is only 10 km away from Varanasi. It is one of the four most significant Buddhist pilgrimage places in India; Sarnath is the place where Lord Buddha first covey his lecture after attaining "nirvana". Tourist spots in Sarnath include lots of Stupas, historical monuments, the deer park and many more.
Places in Sarnath : Dhamek Stupa, Dharmarajika Stupa, Chaukhandi Stupa, Ashoka Pillar, Sarnath Archeological Museum
There are a number of twentieth century Buddhist temples in Sarnath. Many of these Buddhist temples at Sarnath are built and maintained by monks from Tibet, China and Japan but the main Buddhist temple is the Mulagandhakuti Vihar. The main shrine (vihara), called the Mulagandakuti, is said to be located at the place where Buddha used to stay during his visits to Sarnath. There is a carved sandstone railing inside the temple. In the Mulagandhakuti Vihara there also is a Buddha walk.
The recent 'Mulagandhakuti Vihara' or the modern Buddhist temple is 110 feet high with an image of Buddha inside it. Buddhist relics discovered at Taxila are enshrined in this 'Mulagandhkuti Vihara'. There are also fine paintings on the walls of this temple by Japanese artist Kosetsu Nosu. Buddhist services are conducted there. Besides the Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple there are Chinese, Burmese and Jain temples nearby.
Sarnath has yielded a rich collection of sculptures, artifacts and edifices comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images and other ancient remains. To house all the findings and excavations at Sarnath, the Archaeological Survey of India established a site Museum at Sarnath. Finest specimens of Buddhist art and other important remains have been housed at the museum.
While the single most famous exhibit of this museum is the Lion Capital of Asoka, the Sarnath museum has a small but awe-inspiring collection of Buddhist artifacts. Among the things to see is a beautiful sculpture of the Buddha from the fifth century. The Buddha sits cross-legged, with eyes downcast in deep meditation, and a halo around his head. Also worth exploring are several beautiful figures of the bodhisattvas.
The main attraction of the Sarnath Archaeological Museum is the superb Ashokan Pillar. It has four back-to-back lions, which has been adopted as the National symbol of India. Below this are representations of a lion, an elephant, horse and the bull.
Shivala Ghat, a ghat built by King Balwant Singh, owed most significant role during the medieval period and is believed to be a sacred place to have a holy dip. The Shivala Ghat, as the name suggests, is a religiously important Ghat with a presiding deity of Lord Shiva.
A spectacular royal mansion built during the 19th century by Nepal King Sanjay Vikram Shah is a marvelous attraction located at this Ghat location. An attractive Shiva temple and Brahmendra Math, a spiritual centre, are two other attractions located at this Ghat. The Math is set up by a highly revered person known as Kashiraj.
Tulsi Ghat, a prominent Ghat in Varanasi in honor of famous saint poet Tulsi Das, is a significant place is Varanasi. The poet Tulsi Das had written the famous scholarly religious work Ram Charit Manas spending many years in this holy ghat. The mythology says that when the manuscript of his work fell in to the holy water of Ganga, it float aloft without sinking.
Tulsi Das got motivated from the pristine Lord Ram temple located at the bank of the river Ganges. It is believed that the story of Rama (Ramlila) was performed at this place for the first time. Many reminiscences of Tulsi Das are still available in this Ghat. The house where he attained Moksha, pillow, wooden clogs, Samadhi place and a cute idol of Lord Hanuman are preserved here.
Located seven kilometers from the Varanasi station, the Tulsi Manas Temple has a traditional and cultural history. It is established in that very place where the great Indian epic `Ramayana` was written. It was Goswami Tulsi Das who composed Ramayana in Hindi and named it `Ram Charit Manas`. Lord Rama is the deity worshipped at this temple. Tulsi Das actually created a god out of Rama. Beforehand, Rama was considered as a king who was unparallel. The temple is simply constructed. Verses from Ram Charit Manas spatter the walls of the temple. The complex philosophies of the Ramayana are described in sheer simplicity of words.
70 km. (one and a half hour drive) from Varanasi, Vindhyachal is a renowned religious city dedicated to Goddess Vindhyavasini. Mythologically goddess Vindhyavasini is believed to be the instant bestower of bendiction. Ther are several temples of other deities in the vicinity, the most famous ones being Ashtabhuja Devi Temple and kalikhoh Temple, which constitute the Trikona Parikrama (circumambulation). The Vindhyavasini Devi Temple, the Ashtabhuja temple, dedicated to Goddess Mahasaraswati (on a hollock, 3 km from Vindhyavasini temple) and the Kali khoh temple, dedicated to Goddess Kali (2 km from Vindhyavasini temple) form the Trikon Parikrama.
The Vishalakshi Temple of Divine Mother Sati, wife of Lord Shiva stands at Meer Ghat just behind Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, India. Devout Hindus consider this as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas mentioned in the Puranas.
According to a popular Puranic story, when Vyasa failed to get alms in Varanasi he put a curse on the city. Soon after, at a house where Parvati and Shiva had taken human form as householders, Vyasa was so pleased with the alms he received that he forgot his curse. However, because of his bad temper Shiva banished Vyasa from Varanasi. Resolved to be near at hand, Vyasa took his residence on the other side of the Ganges where his temple may still be seen at Ramnagar.
Tanda fall, Wyndham fall, upper and lower khajuri reservoirs(all 14 kms. from Mirzapur), Sirsi fall (46 km from Mirzapur), Jargo reservoir (15 km from Chunar), Siddhanath Ki Dari (18 km from Chunar) and Mukkha fall (40 km from Robertsganj), are some of the water falls that are a favoured picnic spot by nature-lovers.
- Some Religious Places in Varanasi : St. Mary's Church, Gyanvapi Mosque, Shitala Temple, Chausath Yogini Temple, Jain Temple etc.
- Fair and Festivals in Varanasi : Buddh Purnima - Sarnath, Ramleela - Ramnagar, Dhrupad Mela, Hanuman Jayanti, Bharat Milap, Nakkataya, Nag Nathaiya, Mahashivratri, Panch Koshi Parikrama, Ganga Mahotsav etc.
- Muth in Varanasi : Kinaram Math, Sanatan Gaudiya Math, ShriMath, Tailang Swami Math, Gopal Math, Kabir Math, Karpatri Ji Math, Dandi Swami Math, Shankaracharya Math, Jangambari Math etc.
- Ashrams in Varanasi : Mumuksh Bhavan, Dharm Sangh, Nirajani Akhanra, Satua Baba Ashram, Sadhu Bela Ashram, Mata Anandmai Ashram, RamKrishna Mishan Sevashram, Sarveshwari Samuh Ashram, Gadwa Ghat Ashram, Bhinagaraj Dandi Sevashram, Radha Swami Bag etc.
- 80 Ghats of Varanasi : Assi, Ganga Mahal(I), Rewan, Tulsi, Bhadaini, Janaki, Mata Anandami, Vaccharaja, Jain, Nishad, Prabhu, Panchkota, Cheta Singh, Niranjani, Mahanirvani, Shivala, Gularia, Dandi, Hanuman, Prachina (old) Hanumanana, Karnataka, Harush Chandra, Lali, Vijayanagaram, Kedar, Caowki, Ksemesvara / Somesvara, Manasarovara, Narada, Raja, Khori, Pandey, Sarvesvara, Digpatia, Causatthi, Rana mahala, DaraBhanga, Munsi, Ahilyabai, Sitala, Mehta, Rama, Jatara, Raja Gwalior, Mangala Gauri, Venimadhava, Pancaganga, Durga, Brahma, Bundi Parakota (Adi)Sitala, Lala, Hanumanagardhi, Gaya/Gai, Badri Nayarana, Trilocana, Gola, Nandesavara /Nandu, Sakka, Telianala, Dasasvamedha, Prayaga, Rajendra Prasasa, Mana Mandira, Tripura Bhairavi, Mira, Phuta/Naya, Nepali, Lalita, Bauli/ Umaraogiri/ Amroha, Jalasayi, Khirki, Manikarnika, Bajirio, Scindhia, Sankatha, Ganga Mahal(II), Bhonsala, Naya and Genesa etc.