"Varanasi - the Land of Ghats and temples" Top 5 Page for this destination Varanasi by Rupanworld

Varanasi Travel Guide: 655 reviews and 1,534 photos

About the City

Famous author Mark Twain, in his account of the adventures around the world has written:

"The Ganga (Ganges) front is the supreme showplace of Benares.
Its tall bluffs are solidly caked from water to summit, along a stretch of three miles, with a splendid jumble of massive and picturesque masonry, a bewildering and beautiful confusion of stone platforms, temples, stair flights, rich and stately palaces....soaring stairways, sculptured temples, majestic palaces, softening away into the distances;
and there is movement, motion, human life everywhere, and brilliantly costumed
- streaming in rainbows up and down the lofty stairways, and massed in metaphorical gardens on the mile of great platforms at the river's edge."

He further mentioned:

“Varanasi" or Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” (source: Banaras: City of Light - By Diana L Eck p.14).

Count Keyserling, who left Europe shortly before World War I to journey around the world also was deeply impressed by the city and in his accounts of the city he wrote:

"Benares is holy. Europe, grown superficial, hardly understands such truths anymore.....I feel nearer here than I have ever done to the heart of the world; here I feel everyday as if soon, perhaps even today, I would receive the grace of supreme revelation...The atmosphere of devotion which hangs above the river is improbable in strength; stronger than in any church that I have ever visited. Every would be Christian priest would do well to sacrifice a year of his theological studies in order to spend his time on the Ganga; here he would discover what piety means." (source: Banaras: City of Light - By Diana L Eck p. 17).

Varanasi is a holy Hindu city located on the bank of river Ganges (a holy river of the Hindus) in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in India. It is a city of temples, ghats (bathing places on bank of river), lots of old buildings, narrow dark zig zag lanes, hindu saints, old age homes, boats and overall is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage centre. It is as old as 3000 years and is one of the oldest cities in the world. Some of the existing buildings are as old as 500 years and are still upright with people dwelling happily in there. It is an embodiment of Hindu traditions, rituals and customs. The city has also been mentioned in the Hindu epics like The Mahabharata and The Ramayana which are itself said to be written thousands of years back. Sarnath, where Gautam Buddha came to visit around 500 BC, is at a distance of about 10 kms from the city and at the time, Varanasi was said to be already flourishing with trade.

Varanasi is also popularly called Kashi, the city of lights, in India. Being in Varanasi is an experience in a lifetime and is said to be an experience of self –discovery. The city is flocked with tourist all round the year and the roads are crowded all the time.

Some more attractions

Varanasi also has a rich tradition of education, music, arts and crafts. It has produced many world famous exponents in these fields.

Silk Sarees weaved in Varanasi and embroidered in golden/silver thread is one of the best produces of Varanasi. These are prized possession of Indian women and each one of them has atleast one that she wore in her wedding. Sculptures in both stones and wood are also other good pieces for memoirs that the city offers. Sweets of the city are delicious.

At left, there is a photograph of the palace of Maharani of Bihar (Queen of Bihar). This palace presents a unique thing. One can see a very old hand drawn lift still inside the palace. Can be seen very much from the boat on the Ganges as well. This photograph was taken from a boat.

The bathing ghats are the most important tourist attraction in the city. There are 100 ghats. There are burning ghats (Used for burning dead bodies) also. The holy Hindu rituals for remembering the dead ancestors are performed on the ghats in various ways by various people. While some take bath in the holy water, some take a dip in the water, some others drink the water or make offering of water to the sun. Some even take the water in their pots to their homes.

And in the end, one cannot forget the 'Paans' (Betel leaves) and 'Paan Masala' (spicy, flavoured, fragrant and coated betelnuts) shops that exist in plenty in every lane.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros: Very holy, peaceful and colourful place
  • Cons: Dirty, narrow and dark lanes
  • In a nutshell: Come to Varanasi and discover YOURSELF
  • Last visit to Varanasi: Jan 2006
  • Intro Updated Aug 9, 2007
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