Varanasi is the oldest city of the world. Varanasi is more than 3000 years old and is famous as the city of temples. In Varanasi, there are temples at every few paces. Looking at the number of temples in Varanasi, it is hard to believe that a large number of them were demolished during the medieval times. Jyotirlinga Visvanatha Temple or Golden Temple, rebuilt in 1776, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Jnana Vapi well (meaning 'Well of Wisdom) is believed to have been dug by Lord Shiva himself. It is believed that the majestic Alamgir mosque has replaced one of the most ancient shrines known as the temple of Bindu Madhava. The thirty-three hundred million shrines fill one with awe and wonder with sheer numbers.Banaras has always been associated with philosophy and wisdom. A placeof learning for many years, the Banaras Hindu University carries on this tradition. The University campus, to the south of the city, was built at the beginning of this century. Pundit Madan Mohan Malviya was instrumental in founding it. On campus is the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, which originated from the private collection of Rai Krishnadasa.
The Banaras region was administered by Hindu rulers for several hundred years until the 17th century, when it fell into the hands of the Mughals. As was the practice many buildings of the previous rulers and the religious structures of the Hindu and Buddhists were demolished during the wars of the conquest.
- New Vishwanath Temple:
Situated in the premises of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), New Vishwanath Temple is definitely a must visit in Varanasi. The temple was constructed by the famed Birla family and hence is also known as Birla Temple. In fact, it is a temple complex which consists of 7 temples. The Shiva temple is situated on the ground floor, whereas Durga temple and Lakshmi Narayan temple are located on the first floor. The architecture of the temple is inspired by the old Vishwanath Temple and the structure is made of white marbles. The walls of the temple are adorned with the text of Gita, which certainly catches the eyes of the visitors here.
- Manikarnika Ghat
North of Lalita lies Varanasi’s pre-eminent cremation ground, Manikarnika Ghat. Such grounds are usually held to be inauspicious, and located on the fringes of cities, but the entire city of Shiva is regarded as Mahashmashana, the Great Cremation Ground for the corpse of the entire universe. The ghat is perpetually crowded with funeral parties, as well as the Doms, its Untouchable guardians, busy and pre-occupied with facilitating final release for those lucky enough to pass away here. Seeing bodies being cremated so publicly has always exerted a great fascination for visitors to the city, but photography is strictly taboo; even having a camera visible may be constructed as intent, and provoke hostility.
- Banaras Hindu University
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.
The Durga temple is considered one of the most important temples in Varanasi. Built in 18th century the Durga temple is stained in Red with ochre. Though the temple might have Bangla influence spiritually, it is built exclusively on the North Indian pattern called Nagara. Multi-tired spires that decrease in diameter in horizontal pattern mark this style. Actually separate spires are clubbed together one over another to give this feel. Though this style looks less attractive than the South-Indian Gopuram pattern, it has a feel of its own. Lately, people have started calling it Monkey Temple due to the menace created by the monkeys that inhabit the campus of this Temple.
- Annapoorna Devi Temple
|Annapoorna Devi Temple|
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.
- Kashi Vishwanath/GoldenTemple
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most important place to see in Varanasi. The history of this sacred shrine can be traced back to 3500 years. The temple is one of the 12th Jyotirlingas, which are considered the holiest Shiva temples. The Linga is the presiding deity here and the temple is quadrangle, surrounded by temples of other gods. The temple once had a golden spire and domes; hence it was also called the Golden Temple.
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shopping attractions of Varanasi include the hand-knotted carpets of Mirzapur, musical instruments, the 'khatta-meetha' (sweet 'n' sour) 'Langda Aam', a popular variety of mangoes available during summer season and the famous betel leaf that is considered a specialty of the place. Benarasi people can be seen chewing betel leaves as a part of their cultural upbringing and they even welcome their guests by offering them the famous betel leaves. Varanasi is also known for an array of brass, clay and copperware products, mostly used for temple ceremonies. The 'kamandalam' or brass water pot used by saints is often a popular pick, amongst other bric-a-bracs. The influx of pilgrims in the city ensures that the streets close to the temples are lined with these products.
- By Air:
Varanasi is well connected and accessible to major Indian cities and tourist spots. There are daily domestic flights to and from Varanasi to several cities in India. Apart from the state owned Indian Airlines, there are many private air taxi operators that offer their services from Varanasi to other Indian cities. In fact, the daily flights on Delhi-Agra-Khajuraho-Varanasi route are quite popular among the tourists.
- By Rail:
Since Varanasi lies in the heartland of the North Indian plains, it is well connected to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and other parts of India. There are two railway stations in Varanasi, the Kashi Junction and the Varanasi Junction (also known as Varanasi Cantonment). Rajdhani Express from Delhi or from Calcutta passes through Varanasi too. One can also catch trains from Mughalsarai, just 10 km south of Varanasi.
- By Road:
Situated in the flat Ganga plains, Varanasi has a good network of roads. frequent public and private buses and road transport to all the major towns of Uttar Pradesh and nearby areas.