North India Holidays - Holiest Cities of Varanasi

 

One of the india’s oldest and holiest cities. The river front, seen at dawn, is a spiritually uplifting sight. It is also a famous centre for silk and cotton weaving.  A boat ride on river Ganges enables one to observe the rituals being performed by the devotees on the banks. Places of interest are the Ghats – Sacred steps running down into Ganges river Bharat Mata Temple is unique and is dedicated to the nation. Instead of deities’s statues, it houses one of the most perfect relief maps of India carved out of marble.


Vishweshwara Temple – Dedicated to Lord Shiva. Benares Hindu University – A centre of education in Indian art, Culture and music. Sarnath – It was in the deer part at Sarnath, 10 kms from Varanasi, that Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon. It was at Sarnath he set forth, for the first time, the wheel of law. Accordingly the centre is an important pilgrimage point for all Buddhists.

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Varanasi Attractions / Activities / Sightseeing Places

RIVER FRONT
- Varanasi lies along the sacred Ganges River and has a 4 km long river front with hordes of devotees performing rituals at all times of the day. The Ghats look the best at dawn and boats can also be hired at reasonable rates from the ‘Dashashwamedha’ ghat.



ALAMGIR MOSQUE - Popularly known as Beni Madhav Ka Darera, this mosque is a blend of Hindu and Mughal styles of architecture. It was built by Aurangzeb on the site of the Vishnu Temple and overlooks the Panchganga Ghat.



DURGA TEMPLE - About 2 km south of Varanasi, this 18th century Durga Temple is also called the Monkey Temple due to aggressive monkeys that reside here. It has been built in a common north Indian style with an ornate shikhara, with five segments symbolizing the elements, supported by finely carved columns. Durga represented as shakti or female power is clad in red, riding a tiger and fully armed with a sword, Shiva’s trident and Vishnu’s discus. A forked stake in the courtyard was used in the past during festivals to sacrifel goats. Non-Hindus are allowed to the courtyard but not into the inner sanctum.



VISHWANATH TEMPLE - Located within the premises of the Banaras Hindu University this temple built by the Birlas was planned by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. This temple is open to all people irrespective of caste or creed.



TULSI MANAS TEMPLE - Erected in 1964, this temple lies about 150 m south of this Durga Temple. It is dedicated to Lord Rama and is situated where Tulsidas, the great medieval saint, is believed to have written the great epic, Shri Ramcharitmanas. The two-tier walls are engraved with verses and scenes from this epic.



Mata Annapoorna Temple
The temple dedicated to the Mother of the Three Worlds is illustrated by a mural showing the deity feeding Lord Shiva.

 

Kashi Vishalakshi Temple
This shrine is revered as one of the 51 sacred Shaktipeeths. Legend has it that this is where Shiva's wife Sati's aksha (eyes) fell during his enraged tandava (divine dance) following her death.

 

Sankatmochan Temple
Dedicated to Hanuman, and founded by Tulsidas, it is one of the most frequented temples after the Kashi Vishvanath and Annapoorna temples.

 

Jagganath Temple
Located near Assi Ghat this 17th century shrine is the focal point of the annual Rath Yatra (June/July) replicating the gargantuan ritual procession held in Puri, in Orissa, of Lord Jagannath.

 

Ram Nagar Fort and Museum
Formerly the residence of Maharaja of Benaras, this 17th century stronghold is best seen from the river. Reached via a dilapidated bridge or by ferry during the monsoon season, the fort also contains an interesting museum that contains some elaborate relics. Expect to see everything from gruesome elephant traps to astrological clocks and razor-sharp swords.



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