Varanasi – The oldest city in India

Varanasi is the city of life dedicated to Lord Shiva. This city is more than 28000 years old as well as one of the ancient cities of the country with a great history. This holy land has so much to experience and explore. Varanasi is the holiest city in Uttar Pradesh, also named Kashi as well as Banaras. The city belongs to Baba Vishwanath and attracts thousands of visitors a year.

Tourists visit the city to experience peace of mind and the colors of spirituality. Additionally, most people visit the city when they are near their deathbeds. Because they say that the person who dies in Kashi will receive Moksha soon. The city is famous for its culture as well as mythological values across the world. Varanasi is a beautiful land with the vibes of Hindu cultures and traditions.

Why the city is known as Varanasi?

The city is known by various names as each name has its own value and behind the story. People call it the land of Baba Vishwanath, Banaras, Kashi, and Varanasi. But the authoritative name of the city is Varanasi. The rivers Varuna and Assi flow on its northern and southern ends and then merge into river Ganga. The second name of the city is Kashi means the city of lights. Kashi is taken from the Sanskrit word Kas, literally means to shine. This city is the famous land of Buddha days known for illuminating one’s knowledge.

Undescribed history of Kashi

Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is said that Lord Shiva originated this city on his Trishool. However, many Hindu mythologies have described the city with different stories. The city is the most worshipped land in the whole world. This glorious land has been ruled by so many kings from Mauryas to Marathas. But it still retains its spiritual values and culture.

Ashok the Great has ruled the city for numerous years and formed Buddhism as the main religion of the area. During this period, he established so many stupas, temples, and religious centers. The city was on its way to development and prosperity when Adi Shankaracharya came to the city. He visited the city in the 8th century and re-established Hinduism in the city. Therefore, till this time the city has become the center of education as well as culture.

In 1194, Qutub–Din–Abak was the ruler of the area, who destroyed thousands of religious centers as well as temples here. The city was destroyed and recreated by changing rulers during the times. In the 15th century when Akbar was the ruler, he appointed his two architects for complete reformation of the city. But it was again destroyed by his grandson Aurangzeb. After so many destructions in the city, this holy land is still the most beautiful spiritual center.

Kashi holds its glory even today because of the Maratha king Shivaji, who ruled the region in the 18th century. He did so many efforts to reconstruct the city and developed various temples and ghats. Moreover, most of the monuments in the city were created during this time. After that tourism in the city started to increase and it became one of the most-visited locations in the country.

Famous temples of Varanasi

  • Kashi Vishwanath Temple :- It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of lord Shiva. This temple is to be visited place here. The city is known by the name of this temple. Lord Shiva is the real king of this land and the temple is situated on the bank of the river Ganga.
  • Vishalakshi Temple :- The temple is the first Shakti Peth in the list of 108 temples. This temple is the most worshiped place in the country. It is believed that the head of goddess Sati has fallen here.
  • Tilbhandeshwar Mahadev Temple :- This is the temple of lord Shiva situated near Bengali Tota. The temple has a behind story which says that earlier there were fields of sesame. And one day this linga appeared between the fields and people started to worship it.  
  • Maa Annapurna Temple :- This temple is near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The temple is dedicated to goddess Annapurna one of the forms of goddess Parvati. The temple is the symbol of prosperity and wealth in the town.
  • Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple :- This temple is the Leaning temple of Varanasi. The temple is tilted backward. Most of the time it is sunk under water except for the summers. This temple is constructed by a servant of Raja Man Singh for his mother. It is located on Manikarnika Ghat. 

Must visit Ghats of Banaras

  • Dashashwamedh Ghat :- It is the main ghat here near Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It is believed that Lord Brahma performed Ashwmedha sacrifices here on this ghat. This place is famous for its evening Ganga Aarti. 
  • Manikarnika Ghat :- This ghat is the oldest place here, and the place where goddess Sati sacrificed her life in the Yagya when Prajapati Daksh insulted Lord Shiva. The place is known for the cremating as it is said the people who die here get the gateway for Moksha.
  • Assi Ghat :- This is one of the most famous places of Kashi. This ghat is the southernmost ghat of the city. This is the place where the holy rivers Ganga and Assi meet. It is considered as the place where foreigners, students, and researchers live as it is near the Hindu Banaras University.
  • Panch Ganga Ghat :- This ghat is a major spot for tourists to dip in the river Ganga. This is one of the five must-visit pilgrimages of Banaras. As the name suggests this ghat is the confluence of five rivers, Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Dhutpapa, and Kirna.

Heritage sites of Banaras

  • Ramnagar Fort :- This fort was constructed in the 17th century. It is a beautiful place made of red stone along with astonishing architecture. This fort has a big watch on its premises showing year, months, days, and time as well as astrological significance. It has a museum having swords, shields, ornaments, and various models of art as well as of culture.
  • Sarnath :- This is the place where Gautam Buddha for the first time addressed people on Dharma in Kashi. This place is 10km away from the city center. Here are so many Bodh temples, monasteries, and stupas. The main attraction of the place is the Deer Park complex.
  • Chunar Fort :- This fort was constructed in 56 BC and ruled by several kings of Afghans and Mughals. After that, in 1781 British General Warren Hasting took shelter here and his house can still be located here. 
  • Hindu Banaras University :- It is one of the oldest universities in the country. This university is famous for its great knowledge and it was an important part of the independence moment. The university is world-renowned as well as attracts thousands of students from around the world. This university was founded by the Annie Besant in 1898. 

Flavours of Banaras 

Varanasi is a holy land known for its spiritual values, heritage sites, traditions, and culture. This city has the vibrant colors of India as well as lots of mythologies have been created here. However, Kashi is not only known for its culture but the city is also famous for its lip-smacking cuisines. It is said that the food of Banaras has the taste of true India. Moreover, not only one or two dishes here are tasty but each and every dish is. Tourists visiting the city can definitely fall in love with the cuisines here.

Some most famous dishes of Varanasi are Batti Chokha, Sabji Kachori, Khoye ki Jalebi, Blue Lassi, Tamatar Chat, Banarasi Paan and the list goes on. All the dishes here have unique taste and appearance. Even if you have tasted the same dish somewhere else but then you taste it in Kashi, the dish has a totally different taste. This city is blessed with everything and most importantly the taste.

Specialties of Varanasi

If you are visiting Varanasi and thinking about what to purchase then Bnarasi Silk and Muslin fabric is the most fine thing here. The city is also famous for its perfumes, ivory works, sculptures, brassware, etc. Here you can find various centers of Ayurveda and Yoga as Maharishi Patanjali the great teacher of Ayurveda was also affiliated with Varanasi. Tourists from across the world came here to research on Ayurveda and medicines. The city is a very special place to gain knowledge of spirituality and Hindu as well as Bodh culture. 

Not to miss things in Kashi

The city is full of tourist locations and every location has its own value and a short story. Henceforth, it is very important to witness each and every location. But it is not possible to visit everywhere in a single trip. Therefore, the three not to miss things here are listed below.

  • Ganga Aarti :- This is a must to see and visit things of the city. The aarti of the holy river Ganga in the evening is the most beautiful time of the day. This is the time when Pandits of the ghats worship goddess Ganga and perform an elaborate ritual of 45 minutes. During this time tourists, locals, photographers, and everyone in the city visit the Ganga ghats to visualize this mesmerizing moment.
  • Boating on Ghats :- The city has approximately 80 ghats and every ghat has something special about it. It is not possible to visit each ghat while walking so the best is to visit them via boat. You can easily witness each ghat by sitting in a boat and also see the beautiful sunset as well as the sunrise of the town. Many photographers take the best shots of the sun from the boats and even do photoshoots here.
  • Holy bath in Ganga :- The river Ganga is the holiest river in the country. It is believed that if you take a dip in the holy water of the river Ganga then all your sins be justified. The old locals of Kashi believe that if you take a bath in the river Ganga here then you will be free from the process of rebirth and attain moksha. It is very important to first dive into the river and then start to explore the city.

However, traveling to Varanasi is like being at the home of god. This city has vibrant and enjoyable vibes. You can experience and learn millions of things here. The city has everything whether it is about culture or traditions, knowledge or research, yoga, history, fashion as well as food. It is a place full of uncountable locations to visit along with memories to create. Hence, you cannot miss anything in Varanasi, everything and every place is worth visiting.

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