Welcome to Varanasi - contd.

Places to see...

The Ghats

The Ghat

Pilgrims flock the Ghats to have a ritual bath and perform puja to the rising sun, following centuries old tradition. The Dasashvamedh Ghat offers a splendid view of the river front. This is the ghat of the 10 (Das) horses (shiva) sacrificed (medh). Legend has it that it was performed by Brahma to pave way for Shiva’s return to Varanasi after a spell of banishment. A sight that has remained unchanged and unspoilt-by time, wars or even man himself. Other special ghats are the Asi, Barnasangam, Panchganga and Manikarnika, Ghats.

The Sarnath Temple


The great Buddha enhanced the sanctity of Varanasi by choosing the environs of the city to preach his first sermon at Sarnath, (only 10 kms away) after attaining enlightenment.Later, Ashoka, the great Mauryan Emperor erected magnificent stupas and other buildings alongwith his mighty stone pillar, Dharmarajika Stupa. The 110 ft. tall Damekh Stupa marks the place where Buddha preached first sermon.Sarnath has been a premier centre for Buddhism.It is a rich collection of ancient Buddhist relics and antiques comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisatva images on display at the Archaeological Museum (1000 hrs to 1700 hrs. Open all days except Friday)

Viswanath Temple

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is 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. The Gold plating of the dome was done during the 19th century by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab. Foreigners entry restricted.

Banaras Hindu University

Founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya it is considered to be the largest residential university in Asia. Within the university campus, Vishwanath Temple and Bharat Kala Kendra (Museum) are well worth a visit. Tel : 311833.

Chunar Fort

From their vantage point at the northern extremity of the Kaimur Hills, the impressive sandstone battlements of Chunar command a meander in the Ganga before the river curves north to Varanasi 22 km. away. Evidence of the earliest occupation of the site dates it to Vikramaditya of Ujjain in 56 BC. Chunar sandstone has been used for centuries, most famously in Ashokan pillars - and is still quarried, leaving the surrounding hills looking ravaged in places.

Ramnagar Fort

The residential place of Kashi Naresh (Former Maharaja of Varanasi) across the Ganges at Ramnagar houses a museum with the exhibits of palanquins, costumes, swords, sabres, etc. Dussehra celebration of Ramnagar is an interesting event to witness.

Archaeological Museum

The main attraction at this excellent Archaeological Museum is the superb capital from the Ashokan pillar. It has the Ashokan symbol of four back-to-back lions which has been adopted as the state symbol of modern India. Other finds from the site include many figures and sculptures from the various periods of Saranath - Mauryan, Kushana, Gupta and later. Among them is the earliest Buddha image found at Sarnath, Buddha figures in various positions dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries, and many images of Hindu gods such as Saraswati, Ganesh and Vishnu from the 9th to 12th centuries. The museum is open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily, closed on Fridays. Tel : 385002.

A.B.C. Art Gallery, Prabhu Astha

(Opp. Tulsi Manas Temple), Durgakund. Holds exhibition of Contemporary art-mainly paintings, open only during the winter season i.e. October to March. Timings 3.00-7.00 p.m. Tel : 310434, 310967. Entry Free.

Other temples & Deer Park

You can visit the modern temples in the Thai, Chinese, Tibetan, Burmese and Japanese monasteries. North of the Mulgandha Kuti Vihar is the deer park.

Shopper's Delight

Varanasi is a shopper’s delight, with its exquisite silk saris, handicrafts, carpets, rugs and dhurries. Look around and you might be able to pick up nice ethnic jewellery and crafted pieces at competitive rates. You can even carry home some musical instrument for which Varanasi is quite famous. Besides ivory ware, brassware, copper ware and much more is readily available. You only have to explore a bit to discover it. The Chowk, Vishwanath Gali, Gyanvapi, Thatheri Bazar, Lahurabir, Godoulia, Dasashvamedh and Goldhar. Plus shop at the Government Emporia or souvenir shops approved by UP Tourism.

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