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Varanasi Travel Guide

The land of the ancient The land of the mysticism, The land of Spirituality The land of Shiva – that’s the holy city of Varanasi. Also called Baranasi, the name comes from Pali language. Located along the banks of the Ganges River, in Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is not just a place, it is an experience.

It’s a famous Hindu pilgrim site where the devotees flock from all across the country to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva and atonement of their sins by taking a dip in the Holy River Ganges. It’s a must to visit Varanasi at least once in a lifetime to experience the calm, the culture and traditions. The whole city has a laid back yet chaotic charm which is been best described by poets, authors and foreigners in their journals who are besotted by the vibes of place. The Benares Gharana form of Hindustani classical music was developed in Varanasi, and many of the Indian writers, musicians, and philosophers have lived here, giving the city a rich cultural fabric. Even the renowned Hindu saint and poet Tulsidas wrote the epic Ramcharitmanas in this land.

As per the age old legend Varanasi is the place at which the first jyotirlinga, erupted from the Earth's crust in the form of a fiery pillar of light. Shiva’s manifested through this establishing his supremacy over others gods, and flared towards the heavens. The convolution of endless passages, the crowds at the ghats, the prayer aartis in the evening, the delicious food on the streets, the mythological tales attached to the place –all of this makes the spirit of Varanasi. Let us show you Varanasi through the lens of Travolook.

Religious Significance

Varanasi’s religious significance is unparalleled as according to the popular Hindu belief that if the deceased is cremated and their ashes are laid in the Ganges at Varanasi, their soul attains ‘Moksha‘ i.e. the freedom from the cycle of birth and death and rests in the abode of God Himself. It is also an important pilgrim site for Buddhists as Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon here that laid the path to spread Buddhism. Millions of Buddhists visit this city to pay their respect to the land.

The Soulful Ganges and Intriguing Ghats

The tranquil Ganga is a sight to behold as several travelers make a beeline to take a dip in the holy waters with the hope of washing away all evil and sins and attaining Nirvana. Ghats are the riverfront steps leading to the banks of the River Ganges. The city has 88 ghats out of which most are used for bathing and prayer ceremonies dedicated to Lord Shiva. Only two ghats namely Manikarnika and Harishchandra, are used for cremation.

Dashashwamedh Ghat

Dashashwamedh Ghat, the main ghat, is one of the oldest in the city and is tourists, hawkers, touts, pilgrims and a bunch of other people. The boat ride during the sunrise or sunset is not something that you can miss because you will find a more spectacular view of the city as you soak in the calmness of the place while sailing on the boat. The environment comes alive as you will feel the pulse of the city the more you move around the ghats ...children playing, sadhus praying, men sitting around leisurely chatting or playing cards. The entire scene will enthral you as the life is slow paced and relaxing.

Sumptuous Street Food

Varanasi is famous for being a food friendly place. So while you explore the city don’t forget to savour the delightful, finger licking satiating snacks like samosas, kachoris sabzi, Dahi Vada and litti chokha. The roadside chaats are irresistible. You can even try the delicious breakfast and lunch meal packages that are sold on the market leading down to the main ghats. The biggest attraction for every taste bud is a variety of sweet lassis to choose from – whether it is mango, banana or chocolate –the flavours are innumerable. Even the plain sweet lassi is delectable. You can check out the famous sweet mithais and carry some home. Whether it’s the morning tea or the evening tea, make sure to sip on one from one of the balconies high above the view of Ganges.

Evenings Aartis

Come evening and the whole of Dasaswamedh Ghat and adjoining area comes alive with colourful prayer ceremonies attended by city locals, devotees and tourists in large numbers. The sight of the ghats during that time evokes awe with the waters of Ganga sparkling in the golden hue of infinite diyas and lamps, the constant ringing bells, chanting of hymns and bhajans playing in the background, the incense smoke blowing and the saffron robed me moving rhythmically to the beats. The ethereal beauty is such that you will feel transported to another world for some time forgetting everything else. The time stands still in reverence of the Gods. This spectacular ceremony takes place daily and you can also view it from a distance in a boat.

Kashi Vishwanath (Golden Temple)

Visiting Varanasi remains unfulfilled till you visit the oldest and the most sanctified temples - Sri Kashi Vishwanath, The temple is one of the 12 famous Jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva also known as Vishwanatha meaning 'the ruler of the universe'. The temple offers a magnificent view of river Bhagirathi along with the enveloping mountains. The temple’s tower is gold plated with 800 kg of gold plating and adorned with beautiful ravelled carvings. There is also a well present within the temple complex called Jnana Vapi or wisdom well. Kashi Vishwanath Temple’s name also features in several holy scriptures of the Hindus. Additionally the temple also houses several other small temples such as Kaalbhairav, Vishnu, Virupaksh Gauri, Vinayaka and Avimukteshwara. Due to its popularity visiting this temple is also the part of Char Dham Yatras of Hindus.

Silk Shopping

While you are here don’t forget to carry back some Banarasi silk beauties for yourself and your loved ones because the silk produced here is the finest in the country, known for its gold and silver brocade, lavish and intricate designs of zari, and luxurious embroidery. Banarasi Silk spells class and is a perfect fabric traditional functions and weddings.

In one line Varanasi is simply unforgettable.

How to Reach

Varanasi airport is well connected to some of the major cities in India like Delhi and Mumbai. Foreign tourists can board connecting flights.

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