Sightseeing - Varanasi

The Ghats Varanasi's principal attraction is the long string of ghats, located 38 km from the airport, line the west bank of the Ganges. Ghats are the steps which lead down to the river. There are around 100 ghats in Varanasi, each with its own significance. Most Indians believe that anyone dying on the banks of the river, in Varanasi, attains instant 'moksha' or enlightenment.

The Dasaswamedh Ghat: is the most significant ghat here, and conveniently placed at the centre. The Manikarnika ghat is associated with Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva's wife. The five ghats where pilgrims are supposed to bathe in order, and on the same day are Asi ghat, followed by Dasaswamedh, Barna Sangam, Panchganga, and finally, Manikarnika, in that order. Manikarnika and Harishchandra ghats, are the ghats used primarily for the cremation of the dead. Other main ghats include Kedar ghat, a shrine popular with Bengalis; Mansarovar ghat built by Man Singh of Amber; and PanchGanga Ghat where the five rivers are supposed to meet.

Vishwanath temple

Vishwanath temple The Kashi-Vishwanath Temple: Situated 3.8 km from the railway station, near the ghats, is the most sacred of the shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, the patron deity of Varanasi. (Originally constructed by Rani Ahillya Bai Holkar in 1776, it was reconstructed in the 18th century and its gold plating on the 'shikharas' was a gift of the one-eyed Sikh King, Maharaja Ranjit Singh). It is also popularly known as the Golden Temple.

New Vishwanath Temple: Situated in the premises of the university, is a modern structure founded by the late Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, which has the whole Geeta engraved on its marble wall.

Durga Temple: 7 km from the railway station, this is one of the important temples dedicated to Goddess Durga. Constructed in the 18th century in the Nagara style of architecture, it has five shikharas or spires, which start from the bottom and converge on the top. It is locally known as the 'Monkey Temple' because of the large number of monkeys who inhabit the place.

Tulsi Manas Mandir: 7 km from the railway station, constructed in 1964, this temple is devoted to Lord Rama. It is believed to be situated where the great Indian saint and poet, Tulsi Das, lived and wrote the epic "Ram Charit Manas". An exquisite structure of white marble, it has the text of Ram Charit Manas engraved on its walls.

Annapurna Temple: Annapura Temple is a temple devoted to the Goddess Annapurna - the Goddess of food. Situated near the Vishwanath temple, it houses a golden statue of the deity.

Kaal Bhairav: Situated in Visheswarganj, Bhairaon Nath, is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are nine other Bhairav temples in the city. Some important ones include Chandi Bhairav, near Durga Temple; Batuk Bhairav, Kamachha and Rucha Bhairav, near Hanuman Ghat.

Nepali Temple: Situated on Lalita Ghat, was constructed by the late King of Nepal. Made of wood brought from Nepal, the walls have exquisite and lively carvings. Also known locally as 'mini Khajuraho'.

Ganga

The  Ganga Bharat Mata Mandir: Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi, is a unique temple dedicated to Mother India. It houses a relief map of India carved out of marble.

Banaras Hindu University: 10 Km from the railway station, this is probably the largest residential university in Asia, covering an area of approximately 2,000 acres, gifted by the former Maharaja of Varanasi who was a scholar of Sanskrit and Hindu philosophy. Being a center of Sanskrit, Indian art, culture and music, it attracts students, both from India and abroad. It also has an art gallery.

Ramnagar Fort: 16 km from the railway station and situated across the Ganges, is the palace of the former Maharaja of Banaras. Of special interest here are the Durbar Hall (public audience room) and the Royal museum, which houses an antique collection of palanquins, elephant saddles, arms, costumes, etc. The festival of Dussehra is celebrated here and is an interesting spectacle.

Alamgir Mosque: Popularly known as Beni Madhav Ka Darera, was originally a Vishnu temple, and is now a mix of Hindu and Mughal styles of architecture.

Gyanvapi Mosque: 4.8 km from the railway station, this Mosque was constructed by Emperor Aurangzeb on the ruins of an ancient temple. Rare specimens of ancient temple art are still evident in the foundation and at the rear of the mosque.

Museums & Art Galleries

Fort Museum: Ramnagar Fort. Tel: 332322. Timings: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Fridays.

Bharat Kala Bhawan, BHU, Lanka. Tel: 310045. Timings: 10.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Closed on Sundays.

A.B.C. Art Gallery: Prabhu Astha, opposite Tulsi Manas Mandir. Tel: 310434. Exhibition of contemporary paintings. Timings: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Varanasi
Uttar Pradesh