16 May 2013

Varanasi Vibgyors

I was 5, when i visited Varanasi. During our visit was curfew at night, I still remember we cousins peeping out of our hotel windows to check out what was going on. There was dead silence, with gunned men roaming here and there. My memories with this place was cherished by this guest post Varanasi Vibgyors by Glad2baWoman
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India is a country known for its diversity in any possible field, be that religion, economic stature, culture, social progress, education, business, profession and what not. It has been a major attraction to tourists from all over the world who visit the country to experience every other stratum of society and civilization. It’s a major landmark in the tourist circuit, known for its ethnicity, heritage and culture. However, when it comes to experiencing India, its background, its cultural heritage, all packed up in a region as small as a city, one could never deny that the city of Varanasi is unrivalled.
Known as the one of the oldest continually inhabited cities of the world, Varanasi promises its visitors the most sumptuous treat of cultural heritage and diversity that India has got to offer. Located in the most populated region of India and having the topography of a typical river basin, Varanasi is very well accessible by all sorts of transport, be it air, railways or roads. Housing every developmental stage of social as well as religious progress, it is sure to offer a timeline of the civilization of the east starting from what it was to what it is. Being an important stop on the Hindu religious circuit, it’s attractive to tourists and pilgrims alike. It also lodges the Benaras Hindu University, one of the largest and oldest universities of Asia.
Photo Courtesy Wikipedia: Varanasi
The city of Varanasi, which lies on the right bank of the holy Ganges, can be reached easily from any part of the country. It has trains continuously plying from each of the four metro cities of India and has the Lal Bahadur Shastri airport for transport by flight. It also lies on the Kolkata-Delhi national highway 2, one of the four-laned expressways which form the Golden Quadrilateral. The best time of visiting the city would be from November to March, since temperatures might soar up past 40 degree Centigrade during the summer. Also, this period sees most of the traditional fairs and festivals hosted by the city.
Varanasi has two distinct parts. One is the old city, popularly known as Kashi, the oldest known centre of civilization in the Hindu mythology dotted with temples, narrow lanes and bounded by the famous ghats along the river on the east, which are of immense religious as well as historical importance. This part of the city is home to many a saint who have renounced worldliness to live a life driven by faith, austerity and in service to Hinduism. This part of the city has chosen not to indulge in the pursuit of modernization and has preserved its ethnicity. While the other part of the city has expanded to keep up with the pace of development, full of luxurious hotels, restaurants, flyovers and business centres.
For any tourist on a visit to the city, it is advisable to book an accommodation in advance to save the trouble of searching for one followed by a tiring journey. However, with hotels in plenty, one should never worry about being able to get a vacant one on the spot. One might choose from among a range of the less priced hotels along the congested ghats in Kashi to a plush 5 star hotel in the posh areas of Varanasi a few kilometers away from the ghats. A stay of around  4 days is adequate for covering the entire city and sight-seeing.
The first dawn in the city may be spent on one of the 84 ghats that line the eastern end of the city. The Dasaswamedha Ghat is the most visited one followed by the Raj Ghat and the Assi Ghat. A stroll on the Dasaswamedha Ghat in the early dawn would promise a spectacular view of the sun rising over the Ganges. The ghat is used by pilgrims, saints and worshippers to offer their morning prayers and you should not be surprised to spot swarms of photographers clicking away to capture the moments. You can also hire a canoe or a boat to have a wider view of the ghats which appear quite colorful with the diversity of activities they witness. After the sunrise, you can head for the famous Kashi Vishwanatha temple, which is an exalted place of pilgrimage and an idealize centre of faith. Legends from the Hindu mythology attach immense importance to the temple of Kashi. The approach to the temple through the narrowest of lanes lined with busy shops is quite intriguing. Offering prayers at the temple might take some time due to a large number of pilgrims and it’s advisable to have lunch once you are done with it. The afternoon can be spent in leisure or exploring the lanes of the old city of Kashi which have numerous shrines and lingams tucked into every corner buzzing with the activity of pilgrims, pandas and stalls selling offerings to the faithful. Every evening the Dasaswamedha ghat lights up in lamps in the aarti, a grand ritual which should never be missed.
Photo courtesy Wikipedia: Dashashwamedha Ghat on the Ganga, Varanasi
One may enjoy the ritual either from the ghat or from any of the numerous boats which remain stationary, touching and facing the ghats and serving as a gallery for the tourists. The following day might be spent in sight seeing in and around the city. One may book a cab for the day and start with Chunar fort dating back to 1540AD which has been the scene of many a battle. After Chunar, head for the Vindhyachal temples around 45 kms from Chunar. One can also pay a visit to the rock paintings at Mirzapur. The day’s trip should end at Varanasi by the evening. Varanasi is also a favourable shopping destination famous for its Benarasi Silk sarees. An evening in Varanasi may be spent shopping in any of the brightly lit shopping arcades or by tasting the famous sweetmeats of the city with rabdi being the most exquisite of all. The next day, take a cab to Sarnath, 15kms away lying in the Buddhist circuit. The major attractions are Ashoka’s Pillars, the Dharma stupa and the ruins of Mulagandhakuti. From here, move on to the Chandraprabha wildlife sanctuary. This is a   quiet and pious picnic spot lodged in a hilly terrain and adding the famous Rajdari and Deodari falls to one’s pleasure. This lies at a distance of 65kms from Sarnath, and should conclude the day’s trip. The evening in the city may be spent in leisure, at any of the ghats which become quiet and peaceful after the hosting the daily cycle of business. Hopping from one ghat to another each of which house its typical mystique environment would be quite worthwhile. Other attractions include the fort of Ramnagar on the ghats of the river Ganges, the Benaras Hindu University and the Jantar Mantar or the sun clock.
A visit to this ancient city which has been a witness to the birth and development of human civilization is sure to intrigue any visitor. It’s perhaps the only part of the country if not the world where the past and the present, eternity and continuity co-exist without interfering with one another. It’s sure to take you on a ride through the historical timeline and is equally worthwhile for pilgrims and tourists.


  1. This article is very interesting, the writing is very vivid, very pleasant surprise pole; At this point, I do not know what I want to describe. At least the next year or so for his college fund contribution, I get a university degree. Bollywood saree

  2. Beautiful write. Varnasi is place where you can dig its past while being with is present.Being a cultural symbol, it still resides in its past.

  3. I want to visit Varanasi. Beautiful narration of the one of the best cities in India. BTW, why was curfew in the city when you visited?

    1. Saru Singhal, it was in 1990, suppose it was because of Ayodhya violence, not sure...

  4. yes i remember 1990 violence, we were in mumbai.....I always wondered how it must ' ve been in Varanasi that time. SUCH a place to visit, rich with history and colour... thank you fr this share

  5. Varanasi Tour popularly known as Banaras is as important pilgrim city for Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religion. Varanasi tour is one of the top tourist destinations in India. Varanasi is situated on the banks of river Ganga and the culture of this city is associated by Ganges due to its religious importance. Varanasi is the main center for religion and culture of North India from many thousand years.

  6. Nice trip. Thanks for sharing. There are ample of Varanasi hotels that cater to economy, budget and luxury options, so you are sure to get one of the best bets for yourself. Check out all amenities, tariff and reviews of hotel HHI Varanasi, a 3 star hotel in Varanasi.

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