The most interesting factor about Varanasi is, it is among the oldest cities of India and the world too. From quite an old time, this city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in North India. The origin of this city can be traced back in 1200 BC. It has got destroyed, re-built a number of times over and over after attacks from a number of conquerors lured by the immense wealth of this city. Pulsating life of the Hindu religion can be felt throbbing at the heart of this city. The unquestioned religious epicentre of Hindu religion, Varanasi is also called the city of temples, lights, ancient wisdom. Varanasi is among the seven holiest cities of the Hindu religion. This city is almost a microcosm of a large part of India, resided by Hindu people.
Varanasi undoubtedly is of particular importance to all devout Hindus. The city is located on the banks of the river Ganga. Devotees come to this place of pilgrimage to pray and also bathe in the holy waters of Ganges. According to devout Hindus, bathing in the Ganga is a great method of cleansing to wash away a lifetime of sins. Another belief is, dying in this city breaks the cycle of reincarnation to avoid death and rebirth by ascending the soul to “Moksha” or eternal peace. The bank of river Ganges at Varanasi is one of the largest cremation grounds in India.
You can enjoy a boat ride near the Ghats to see a flurry of different activities starting from women taking their bath fully clothed, yet quite discreetly.
Visitors can take boat rides along the many Ghats of Varanasi and see a flurry of activities ranging from women discreetly taking baths while still wrapped in their saris. You can find men immersing themselves in the river while a number of babies are christened on the river bank. Funeral pyres can be spotted at some of the Ghats. Bereaved kin can be found scattering ashes of their dead relatives in the holy waters of the Ganga.
Two major ceremonies performed at the Ghats are quite popular among the tourists in Varanasi at sunrise and sunset. The ceremony taking place at the sunrise is called “Puja” while the ceremony at sunset is called “Ganga Aarthi”. Both of them comprise of interesting rituals and a number of must see events for all visitors at the Ghats.
There are more than 80 Ghats in the city among which, some are exclusively for private ceremonies and are also reserved as familial spaces. All others are open to people. Each Ghat offers you an interesting site. The major public Ghats in Varanasi are, Dasaswamdeh, Bachraj, Shivala, Assi, Tulsi, Dandi, Hanuman Ghat, etc. Some Ghats like Harischandra and Marnikarnika Ghats became popular as cremation grounds.
Some of the Ghats have associated temples or magical stories about them. Balraj Ghat has three Jain temples. The Royal family of Nepal built the Meer Ghat and has a temple in the periphery. The other prominent attractions include Charanpaduka Ghat with a footprint that belongs to the Hindu deity Vishnu. The Panchganga Ghat is dominated by the remnants of the historic Alamgiri Mosque, one of the most important of the largest mosques in Varanasi.
Apart from these Ghats, Varanasi has a number of other tourist attractions too. The list includes the Ramnagar Fort and Museum. The Marnikara Well located here is considered to be created by Lord Shiva when he started digging earth in this particular location to recover the lost ear-rings of Goddess Parvati. Legend has this that the holy sweat of Lord Shiva filled the well.
Among the prominent attractions in the city, the historic Vishvanath Temple is open only to Hindus. This place is dedicated for the worship of Lord Shiva and 800 kilograms of solid gold has been used to create this place. The Gyan Kupor Well is also open only to Devout Hindus who attribute great quality to the water of this well making it an important point of religious observances in the city.
When to visit this place?
Varanasi is known to have very hot days and very cold nights during the summer. The sultry monsoons are also not the right time for visiting this city. So, winter is the best time for foreign visitors to enjoy a tour of this city. The high tourist season in almost all parts of India is between November and April.
Varanasi is famous for all the colorful festivals celebrated with much fervor and gusto across the city. The prominent festivals celebrated there are Diwali, Holi, Raksha Bandhan, Dussehra, and Janasthami. Another festival of interest to the foreign visitors is the Purnima Festival celebrating the birth of Buddha.
Indulgence in the form of food:
Visitors who enjoy food and drink in myriads of tastes can enjoy their tour of Varanasi mainly because of an array of different kinds of platters offering people enjoyment through a wonderful range of North Indian cuisines starting from Mughlai, Punjabi and all other traditional vegetarian dishes enjoyed by the Hindus.
The cuisines often available at the eateries in Varanasi are known for liberal liberal use of spice and condiments in them. It is almost the Lassi capital of India Varanasi is among the best places to enjoy some of the world-famous varieties of mangos during summer.
Much to the delights of the shopaholics, Varanasi is the house to world famous silk textiles and brocades. The Banarasi Saree originated in this part of India is famous all over the world. Silk scarves, wooden musical instruments like Sitar, pashmina shawls, brass ornaments, Bhadohi carpets make great souvenirs.
Appropriate Attire :
As almost all of the tourist attractions of the city are religious, visitors should wear clothes appropriate to the weather and the complete atmosphere during their stay and make sure that legs, arms, and shoulders must be covered. Tightly fitted clothes should ideally be avoided.
Some of the shrines and temples in Varanasi have sections open only to the people of Hindu faith and do not allow visitors from another religious community, beyond a certain point. Photography is also prohibited at some of the locations of this city. At certain places, guests are also required to remove their shoes. Visitors should follow the instructions to maintain decorum of all the tourist spots of Varanasi.
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