Varanasi City Tour

A Word About the Founder of Varanasi

The Mythical Origins and Historical Evolution Varanasi’s origins are steeped in myth and legend, with roots that extend deep into ancient history. According to Hindu mythology, the city was founded by Lord Shiva himself. It is believed that Varanasi was his abode and that he established the city on the banks of the Ganges River, making it a sacred site for Hindus. Historically, Varanasi's documented history dates back over 3,000 years. The city is mentioned in ancient texts such as the Rigveda, where it is described as an important cultural and religious center. By the time of the Buddha (6th century BCE), Varanasi had already established itself as a significant urban and spiritual hub. Varanasi has been a center of learning, religion, and trade for millennia. It has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, from the ancient kingdom of Kashi to the Maurya and Gupta empires, and later the Mughals and the British Raj. Despite the passage of time, Varanasi has retained its sacred character and continues to be a focal point for spiritual seekers and scholars.

Sightseeing in Varanasi : Varanasi is a city that offers a profound journey through spirituality, history, and culture. Here’s a guide to some of the must-visit sites that capture the essence of this timeless city.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple :

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the most revered temples in India. Originally built by the Maratha ruler Ahilyabai Holkar in 1780, this temple is situated on the western bank of the Ganges. The temple's gold-plated spire and its sacred Jyotirlinga make it a vital pilgrimage site for millions of devotees.

Dasaswamedh Ghat :

Dasaswamedh Ghat is the most famous and significant ghat in Varanasi. According to legend, it is the site where Lord Brahma performed the Dasa Ashwamedha Yajna (ten horse sacrifices). The ghat is renowned for its evening Ganga Aarti, a captivating ceremony involving chanting, lamps, and the reverence of the river Ganges.

Sarnath :

Located 10 kilometers from Varanasi, Sarnath is where Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. Key attractions include the Dhamek Stupa, the Ashoka Pillar, and the Sarnath Museum, which houses the famous Lion Capital of Ashoka, India’s national emblem.

Assi Ghat :

Assi Ghat is a prominent ghat situated at the confluence of the Ganges and Assi rivers. It is a popular site for devotees to take a holy dip, particularly during festivals. The ghat is also known for its vibrant morning rituals and aarti, making it a lively and spiritually uplifting place to visit.

Banaras Hindu University (BHU) :

Founded in 1916 by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is one of Asia’s largest residential universities. The sprawling campus houses the Bharat Kala Bhavan museum, known for its collection of Indian art, sculptures, and textiles. The Vishwanath Temple within the campus is also a notable landmark.

Tulsi Manas Temple :

Built in 1964, the Tulsi Manas Temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. This modern temple marks the site where the epic Ramcharitmanas, a Hindi version of the Ramayana, was composed by the poet Tulsidas. The temple’s walls are adorned with verses and scenes from the Ramayana.

Ramnagar Fort :

Located on the eastern bank of the Ganges, the Ramnagar Fort was built in the 18th century by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh. The fort, still the residence of the Kashi royal family, features a museum with a collection of vintage cars, medieval costumes, and historical artifacts. The fort’s architecture reflects the Mughal style with ornate balconies, courtyards, and pavilions.

Bharat Mata Temple :

Unique among Indian temples, the Bharat Mata Temple is dedicated not to a deity but to Mother India. Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936, the temple houses a relief map of India carved out of marble, symbolizing unity and national pride.

Manikarnika Ghat :

Manikarnika Ghat is one of the oldest and most significant ghats in Varanasi, known for its cremation rituals. According to legend, it is the site where a jewel from Lord Shiva's ear fell, hence the name "Manikarnika" (ear ornament). The ghat holds profound religious importance as it is believed that those cremated here attain moksha (liberation).

Ganga Mahal Ghat :

Ganga Mahal Ghat, also known as Ganga Mahal Palace, features a palace built by the Maharaja of Narayan in the 19th century. It is now part of the Maharaja Banaras Vidya Mandir Trust, housing a museum with exhibits on Varanasi’s history and culture. The ghat is less crowded and offers picturesque views of the Ganges.

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