Tourist Places in Varanasi
Varanasi is a historical city in the state of Uttar Pradesh and historically known as Kashi. Situated on the banks of the holy River Ganges, it is commonly known as Benares or Banaras. The city has many titles like “The City of Temples”, “The City of Learning”, “The Holy City of India”, “The Religious Capital of India” and “The City of Lights”.
Jantar Mantar is an observatory and one of the popular tourist attractions in Varanasi. It was constructed by Jai Singh, the Maharaja of Jaipur in 1737. He was a follower of science and technology and his passion towards astronomy led to the establishment of this huge building.
For constructing the best observatory in the region, he sent his scholars abroad to study designs and construction of numerous foreign observatories. Various manuals on astronomy brought by the scholars led to the construction of Jantar Mantar at Varanasi in sync with Delhi, Mathura, Ujjain and Jaipur observatories.
The building was constructed with the aim of measuring the local time and altitude of the place, the declination of Sun, stars and planets and to determine eclipses. Housing several masonry instruments to record the motion, speed and properties of stars and planets, and study astronomy, the building shows accurate results until now. The site is renowned for its multiple structures in various shapes that have their specialised function for astronomical measurements.
Since its establishment, many Yantras are associated within the structure for offering accurate measurements on astronomy. Disha Yantra, Dhruva Yantra, Digansha Yantra, Krantivritta Yantra, Prakash Yantra, Ram Yantra and Samrat Yantra, being the prominent Yantras are still used for various calculations.
An example of complex architectural styles, the structure attracts many astronomers, scholars, engineers, architects and scientists along with travellers for its perfect combination of geometric forms. With the availability of taxis, cycle rickshaws and auto-rickshaws, travellers can easily reach Jantar Mantar from any part of the destination.
Bharat Mata Temple
Bharat Mata Temple is among the beautiful temples constructed in 1936 by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt, a Gandhian follower. It is situated within the campus of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth. The shrine is dedicated to Mother India and possesses a beautiful marble structure, which was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi.
The temple also has a beautiful structure of undivided India with a three-dimensional view, displaying the exact proportions of lands, oceans and hills. The architecture of the temple is in the shape of pentagonal cone, which is supported by the five pillars. The temple also offers beautiful view of river Ganges and the ghats located in close vicinity.
A land primarily of Ghats and temples, Varanasi has a lot to live up to as the pilgrim hotspot of the nation and never quite failing at that, Varanasi grows bigger and bigger as the favoured tourist destination for those who preach religiosity and spirituality as a way of life.
Of the several Ghats crowding the city of Varanasi, one highly recommended as a must-see is the fascinating and alluring Manikarnika Ghat. Only those fortunate to have died in Varanasi have the privilege to be cremated here. To die here is to be freed from the cycle of life and death. In step with the city’s usual penchant for myth-making, this Ghat was named Manikarnika, after the Goddess Parvati’s earring which fell down while bathing. On top of the steps is a large tank, the Manikarnika Kund that Lord Vishnu is supposed to have dug with his perspiration. The Charanapaduka, a slab of stone between the well and the Ghat, bears footprints made by Lord Vishnu.
Apart from the usual charm that lures tourists to the Marikarnika Ghat, the foremost reason for the Marikarnika Ghat’s popularity is the Charanapaduka. All year long, be it the summer heat or the winter chill, devotees and keen tourists flock here in multitudes. Photographers revel in the beauty and diversity of Varanasi, especially because of quaint occurrences like the Charanapaduka, sights which aren?t that common elsewhere in the world. Not only Indians or Hindus, even those from other far countries come visiting, hoping to be a part of the experience that is Varanasi!
Ramnagar Fort attracts tourists from all over, which is situated on the opposite bank of river Ganges. Constructed in 18th century by Maharaja Balwant Singh, it is the ancestral home of the Maharaja of Banaras. The fort is built with red sandstone and houses a temple and a museum within the premises
The temple is dedicated to Ved Vyasa, the author of the Indian epic the Mahabharata. As per the legends, it is believed that Ved Vyasa resided within the fort for a short period.
The royal family of Banaras is also known as Maharaja of Kashi. At present, this fort continues to be the residential palace of the royal family of Varanasi. Durbar Hall also known as the hall of public audience is the most prominent attraction of the fort.
Constructed with marble stones and glossy stones, the fort features Indian as well as Islamic styles of architecture. The carved balconies, open courtyards and beautiful pavilions are the highlights of the fort. Owing to its rich cultural heritage, the fort has emerged as a prominent shooting destination for numerous Indian film makers.
Ramnagar Fort also houses the Durga Temple, temple of Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman and Chhinnamastika Temple. Apart from this, the main attraction of the fort is a big clock, which not only displays time, day, week, month and year but also provides accurate astronomical facts.
The annual month-long Ram Lila drama festival is organised in the narrow streets behind the fort. Situated at a distance of 14 km from Varanasi city centre, the fort can be reached with the availability of auto-rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and taxis.
Alamgir Mosque, also known as, Beni Madhav Ka Darera, was constructed by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangazeb. It is believed that there was once a temple of Lord Krishna at the site where Alamgir Mosque is situated. Being the largest structure located on the banks of river Ganges, the mosque was constructed during the invasions of Mughals in India.
Possessing an imposing construction, the architecture of this structure features a blend of Hindu and Persian styles. Standing on the carved pillars, turrets and beautiful domes, the mosque is frequented by devotees and tourists while visiting the Panchganga Ghat. The lower part of the mosque has a Hindu temple and the design of the whole structure presents rich artworks of ancient India.
Tulasi Mana Temple
Tulasi Mana Temple is a beautiful shrine located in the vicinity of Durga Temple. Dedicated to Lord Rama, the temple was constructed in 1964 and received its name from Tulsi Das, the great saint poet of 16th century. Aesthetically carved with marble rocks, the temple has Shikhara style of architecture, which was found by a philanthropist family of the city.
The walls of the temple are decorated with inscriptions and stone carvings depicting the stories of the Ramcharitmanas, a famous literary work by Tulasi Das. The upstairs of the temple is adorned with structures of warriors as portrayed in the Ramayana.
Timings: 5:30 am – 12 pm and 3:30 pm – 9 pm (Daily)
Gyan Kup Well
Gyan Kup, also known as Gyan Vapi Well, is one of the prominent religious places in Varanasi. The name by which the well Gyan Kup is known literary means well of wisdom and knowledge. Situated on the entrance of the popular holy Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the well is presently covered by a canopy, fabric and a stone screen.
Offering support to the central dome and two peaks of the temple, the well was constructed by Rani Baiza Bai of Gwalior in 1828. Natives believe that the water of the well provides spiritual enlightenment after drinking the water.
Kedar Ghat, situated in the southern part of the destination, was built by the Maharaja of Vijayanagar. The ghat is named after Lord Shiva, who is also known as ‘Kedarnath’. Popular among Bengali and South Indians, the ghat has a beautiful temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city. This temple is constructed in ancient Hindu architectural style.
Located on the banks of river Ganges, Kedar Ghat is one of the famous pilgrimage places in the city of Varanasi visited by numerous saints and pilgrims. Near the Kedar Ghat, there is a Parvati Kund, which is a beautiful pond and is believed to have water with high medicinal properties.
New Vishwanath Temple
New Vishwanath Temple or Golden Temple is located in the campus area of Benares Hindu University (BHU). Popularly known as the Birla Temple, the temple is constructed by Birla family, one of the famous industrialists of India. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is based upon the same structure of the previously built Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
Planned and designed by Madan Mohan Malaviya, the founder of Banaras Hindu University, the temple is built with white and multi-coloured marbles. The temple also possesses beautiful sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. It is open throughout the year for addressing prayers from different religions, castes and creeds.
Ramnagar Museum, also known as Banaras Vidya Mandir Museum, is a scholarly museum located inside the Ramnagar Fort. The museum houses a vast collection of items belonging to the Royal family of Varanasi. These include artefacts belonging to medieval period along with various handicraft items.
The museum also showcases elephant saddles, arms and armours used in the royal period, beautiful palanquins, decorated art pieces, textiles of various kinds and ancient manuscripts. Gold-plated howdahs, furniture, jewel-encrusted sedan chairs and other artefacts are some of the assemblages displayed in the museum.
The Ramnagar Fort Museum also displays the Royal collection, which includes royal palkies, vintage cars and ivory work, armoury of swords and old guns and antique clocks. Tourists can visit this place by hiring cycle rickshaws, auto-rickshaws and taxis, which are available in plenty in the destination.
Timing: 10 am – 5 pm (Daily except holidays).
Assi Ghat is the southernmost Ghat in Varanasi, situated at the assemblage of Ganges and Assi rivers. The ghat is a sacred place as pilgrims offer prayers to a huge shivalingam placed under a peepal tree after bathing in the river.
Constituting the southern end of conventional city, Assi Ghat has numerous references in the early literature of the Hindus. Assi Ghat is mentioned in Agni purana, Matsya Purana, Padma Purana, Kurma Purana and Kashi Khanda. Legend also states that the famous Indian poet saint, Tulsi Das had written the popular epic the Ramcharitmanas on the banks of Assi Ghat.
Another famous linga worshipped at this ghat is Asisangameshwar linga, which represents the ‘lord of confluence of the Asi’. The idol of the lord is enshrined in a small marble temple situated near the Assi Ghat.
It is believed that Goddess Durga, after killing the asuras, Shumbha-Nishumbha, had thrown her sword at a place, which resulted in the origin of a huge stream, known as Assi River.
Assi Ghat is called as Assi Saimbeda Tirtha in Kashi Khand and is one of the five special ghats visited by pilgrims during the ritual route called Panchtirthi Yatra. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit this place during the months of Chaitya (March and April) and Magh (January and February). During solar or lunar eclipse, Probodhoni Ekadashi, Ganga Dussehra and Makar Shankranti, the place is visited by a large number of devotees and travellers.
Dasaswamedh Ghat is one of the prominent ghats, situated on the banks of river Ganges. The ghat is visited by Hindu devotees in large number due to the religious significance of ten sacrificed horses. It is believed that ten horses were sacrificed by Lord Brahma to allow Lord Shiva return from the period of banishment.
Apart from being the oldest ghat of Varanasi, it is untouched and retains its beauty. The ghat had also experienced many ruling powers since its establishment. It was first renovated by Bajirao Pesava I in 1740 and later in 1774 by Ahilyabai Holkar, the Queen of Indore.
It is believed that the sacrifice of ten horses was repeated at the ghat during second century by Bhara Shiva Naga rulers. Dotted with numerous temples and religious sites, the ghat possesses well laid steps and platforms for performing various rituals and religious activities. The evening Aarti at the ghat attracts many devotees, who immerse earthen lamps in the water of holy Ganges, providing a beautiful view of the dusk.
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