The city of Varanasi is situated on the bank of the holy Indian river, the Ganga or Ganges. It is one of the oldest living cities in the world. It probably derives from the two rivers that flank the city, the Varana to the north and the Asi to the south. Varanasi’s eminence in Hindu mythology is practically unparalleled.
Varanasi has been a centre of knowledge and the custom is reserved energetic today by the Banaras Hindu University founded in 1916 A.D. Silk weaving in Varanasi is a cottage trade. Complete families are involved; children often pick up the art from the elders at an early age. In Banaras and throughout India this fine silk fabrics is sold.
Facts about Varanasi
Area: 73.89 sq. km.
Altitude : 80.71 meters above sea level.
Season: October – March
Clothing: Summer – Cottons; Winters – Woolens
Language: Hindi and English.
How to get there
Air : Well connected to Delhi, Khauraho, Lucknow, Mumbai by air.
Rail : Ahmedabad, Cochin, Delhi, Gwalior, Kolkata, Madras, Mumbai, Tirupati, Puri are well linked by railways to Varanasi.
Road : Varanasi, on NH 2 from Kolkata to Delhi, and NH 29 to Gorakhpur is well connected to the rest of the country by good motorable roads. Some of the major road distances are : Agra – 565 km, Allahabad – 128 km, Bhopal – 791 km, Bodhgaya – 240 km, Kanpur – 330 km, Khajuraho – 405 km, Lucknow – 286, Patna – 246 km, Sarnath – 10 Km.
Places to see
The Ghats : There are about hundred ghats, the major magnetism of Varanasi and each of them preserves its own special place in the religious characteristics of the city. The Dasashvamedh Ghat offers an impressive view of the river facade. This is the ghat of the 10 (Das) horses (shiva) sacrificed (medh). Other unique ghats are the Asi, Barnasangam, Panchganga and Manikarnika, Ghats.
Alamgir Mosque : It is a combination of the Hindu and Mughal styles of the architecture, popularly known as Beni Madhav Ka Darera, built by Aurangzeb on the site of the Vishnu Temple, see across the Panchganga Ghat.
Durga Temple : This 18th century Durga Temple is also known as the Monkey Temple, due to many violent monkeys residing here, located 2 kms south of the old city. The temple was built in a common north Indian style with an ornated shikhara.
Bharat Mata Temple : This temple was founded by Mahatma Gandhi, lies about 3 kms west of Godaulia, exterior to the old city. Instead of gods and goddesses, a huge relief map in marble of the whole of Indian subcontinent and Tibetan plateau is found here. It is perfectly to scale both vertically and horizontally with mountains, rivers and the holy tirthas all clearly visible.
Tulsi Manas : This temple is located about 150 m south of Durga Temple built in 1964, dedicated to Lord Rama. It is situated at the place where Tulsidas, the great medieval oracle is supposed to have lived and written the great epic “Shri Ramcharitmanas”. Banaras Hindu University
Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya was the founder of the university. It is judged to be the largest residential university in Asia.
The main attraction at the museum is the excellent assets from the Ashoka pillar. It contains the Ashoka symbol of four back-to-back lions which has been accepted as the national symbol of modern India. The museum is open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily, closed on Fridays.
Other attractions are Emperor Aurangzeb’s Mosque, the sacred bull, the well of facts Vishwanath Temple.
It is devoted to Lord Shiva, the most sacred shrine in Varanasi. The original temple was destroyed by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb which was later restored by Rani Ahilyabai of Indore in the 18th century. It is about 10 km from the holy city of Varanasi, where Buddha decided to convey his first oration. The illustrious Mantra, ‘Buddham Sharanam Gachhami’, owes its foundation to Sarnath. Besides Buddhism, it is also linked with Jainism. There is also a vast expanse of prehistoric ruins at Sarnath. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD. The Ashoka pillar of Sarnath is the National emblem of India. Foreigners entry restricted.
The Ramnagar fort is 14 kms away from Varanasi and sited on the contradictory bank of river Ganga, built by Maharaja Balwant Singh in the 18th century with red sandstone. The Ramnagar fort has a temple dedicated to Ved Vyasa, who wrote Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, and a museum within the grounds, displaying the Royal collection which includes vintage Cars, Royal palkies, an armory of swords and old guns, ivory work and antique clocks. Some other temples located at Ramnagar are The Durga Temple and Chhinnamastika Temple and Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman Temple. Inside the giant walls of the Ramnagar fort-palace, there is a big clock displaying not only year, month, week and day but also astronomical facts about the sun, moon and constellation of stars.