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VISITING PLACES NEAR

VARANASI

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ABOUT  VARANASI

Varanasi, one of world's oldest living cities, is rightly called the religious capital of India. Also known as Banaras or Benaras, this holy city is located in the southeastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. It rests on the left bank of the holy river Ganga (Ganges), and is one of the seven sacred spots for Hindus. For every visitor, Varanasi has a different experience to offer.

The gentle waters of the Ganges, the boat ride at sunrise, the high banks of the ancient "Ghats", the array of shrines, the meandering narrow serpentine alleys of the city, the myriad temple spires, the palaces at water's edge, the ashrams (hermitages) , the pavilions, the chanting of mantras, the fragrance of incense, the palm and cane parasols, the devotional hymns - all offer a kind of mystifying experience that is unique to the living city of Lord Shiva.Varanasi, or Benaras, also known as Kashi is one of the oldest living cities in the world.

Varanasi`s Prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrevealed. Mark Twain, the English author and literature, who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Benaras, once wrote: "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together" Varanasi is a city on the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, North India, regarded as the spiritual capital of India, is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism and played an important role in the development of Buddhism.

1. GANGA GHAT

Varanasi is symbolized by its Ghats. Ghats in Varanasi are river front steps leading to the banks of the River Ganges. The spectacular 4 kilometer sweep of Ghats is a unique sight, best viewed at dawn, in that "soft first light" when the river and Ghats have a timeless appeal.

Life is almost panoramic detail unfolds here from dawn to dusk as a steady stream of devotees-swelling to thousands on auspicious days –perform rituals by the Ganga. It is the Ganga Ghats of Varanasi that complement the concept of divinity.

Ghats of Ganga are perhaps the holiest spots of Varanasi. The Ganga Ghats at Varanasi are full of pilgrims who flock to the place to take a dip in the holy Ganges, which is believed to absolve one from all sins.

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Also known as the Golden Temple, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city. Varanasi is Said to be the point at which the first jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested has supremacy over others gods, broke through the Earth’s crust and flared towards the heavens.

The Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varanasi. The Kashi Vishwanath temple is located in the heart of the cultural capital of India, Varanasi. It stands on the western bank of India's holiest river Ganges.The Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishweshwara or Vishwanatha, is enshrined in the Kashi Vishwanath temple, considered as one of the holiest temples of India.

In Hindu religion it is believed that a simple glimpse of the Jyotirlinga is a soul-cleansing experience that transforms life and puts it on the path of knowledge and Bhakti (devotion).

AARTI SCHEDULE

Mangala Aarti

3:00 AM to 4:00 AM

Sandhya Aarti

7:00 PM to 8:15 PM

Bhog Aarti

Shringar Aarti

11:15 AM to 12:20 PM

9:00 PM to 10:15 PM

Shayan Aarti

10:30 PM to 11:00

The lively atmosphere of the Dasaswamedh Ghat makes it one of the best places to visit in Varanasi. This tourist attraction is a swirling hodgepodge of flower sellers touting bright blossoms, boat operators hawking rides along the Ganges River, and sadhus (holy men) with face paint. You can spend hours people watching in this area during the day.

indu priests put on the Ganga Aarti every night at the Dasaswamedh Ghat, starting at around 7pm. Donning saffron-hued robes, the priests spread out plates of flower petals and other offerings and blow a conch shell to signal the start of the spiritual ceremony.

Thousands of tourists gather to watch the priests chant and wave tiered plates of sandalwood-scented incense in intricate patterns for about 45 minutes. It's an extravagant sight and one of the top things to do here. Hot tip: Get to the ghat at least a couple of hours early if you want to beat the crowds and score a great spot for the show.


 

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It is known as the most ancient temple of Varanasi located near the VishesharGanj. Kalbhairav temple is located at K-32/22 Bharonath, Vishweshwarganj, Varanasi. God KalBhairav is believed to be the “Kotwal of Sati pind”. Without his permission no one can even touch to the Sati pind. Opening time of the temple is: 5:00 am to 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm History of the Kalbhairav Temple: Long ago many great saints went to the Sumeru Mountain in order to know from Lord Brahma that who is eternal and supreme power.

Lord Brahma stated that he was the superior person. Lord Vishnu (also known as the Yagyeshwar or Narayan) was not agreed with the quick and impudent decision of the Lord Brahma. Both, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu went to the four Vedas for the answer of same question. Rig Veda answered that the Rudra is supreme as He has the power to control all living beings. Yajur Veda answered that Lord Shiva is supreme as He could be worshiped by various Yagnas (Yagam). 

When it comes to famous places to visit in Varanasi, the city's southernmost main ghat regularly tops the list. Assi Ghat's star attraction is a Shiva lingam (phallic representation of the Hindu deity) beneath a sacred fig tree. It draws hundreds of pilgrims every day, who come to worship Lord Shiva after rinsing in the Ganges River.

Feeling a little stiff from traveling? Swing by Assi Ghat at sunrise, when you can get your downward-facing dog on with dozens of others during morning yoga accompanied by live music every day.
Tourists can also see another Ganga Aarti performance here in the evening, which is slightly smaller and more intimate than the one at Dasaswamedh Ghat

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Sarnath has been a world famous Buddhist site in Varanasi. Lord Buddha preached his first sermon at a deer park in Sarnath. Sarnath is one of the four most important Buddhist pilgrimage centers of India. Buddha, the great sage , after attaining enlightenment (Buddha-hood) at Bodh Gaya came to Sarnath and delivered his first sermon to five disciples for redeeming humanity.

It is this place where foundation of a new order of monks (Sangha) and a new order of religious doctrine (Dhamma) was laid. The inscriptions of early medieval period found from Sarnath referred to this place as Dharamchakra or Sadhamacharka pravartana vihar.

Sarnath in Varanasi is one of the holiest site that attract people from all over the world. People visit Sarnath to pay homage to the great preacher Buddha and attain salvation. Some of the major monuments in Sarnath are Dhamek Stupa, Chaukhandi Stupa, Mulgandha Kuti Vihar, Ashoka Pillar, Bodhi Tree and Sarnath Museum. Archeological Survey of India is taking care of the ancient remains of rich collection of sculptures, artifacts and edifices comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images and other ancient remains excavated at Sarnath.

7.  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.14 km. from Varanasi.

The fort at Ramnagar houses a museum displaying the Royal collection which includes vintage cars, Royal palkies, an armoury of swords and old guns, ivory work and antique clock. The Durga Temple and Chhinnamastika Temple are also located at Ramnagar.

Ramnagar Fort which was built in 1750A.D by the Maharaja of Banaras, is on the right bank of River Ganga. Built of red stones, it provides strength and stability to the city.

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The Banaras Hindu University or BHU is an internationally reputed and largest residential University in India and is situated in Varanasi. The great nationalist leader, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, founded the Banaras Hindu University in the year 1916. Dr Annie Besant also played an important role in the formation of the BHU.

The Banaras Hindu University played an important role in the Indian independence movement. Over a period of time, it has developed into one of the greatest centers of learning in India.

The BHU has produced many great freedom fighters and Nation builders. It has immensely contributed to the progress of the nation through a large number of renowned scholars, artists and scientists. BHU houses New Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Art And Archeological Museum - Bharat Kala Bhavan .

The Bharat Mata temple at Varanasi is the only temple dedicated to Mother India. It is located in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth campus. The Bharat Mata temple was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936.

The statute of Bharat Mata is built in marble and is a model of undivided India, depicting the mountains, plains and oceans.

The most peculiar thing about the Bharat Mata Temple is that instead of the customary gods and goddesses, it houses a relief map of India, carved out of marble. It is inside the premises of Kashi Vidyapeeth.

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A perfect epitome of science and astronomy, Jantar Mantar is an observatory which was used in earlier times to measure local time, altitude, declination of sun, planets and stars, and eclipses.

This historical attraction in Varanasi was established by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur in the year 1737. He built five such observatories; the rest are in the cities of Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain and Mathura. The Jantar Mantar in Varanasi is located on the rooftop of Man Mahal. While on a sightseeing tour of this renowned tourist site in Varanasi, you can expect to see various instruments that were used for different calculations.

Disha Yantra, Digansha Yantra, Dhruva Yantra, Prakash Yantra, Ram Yantra, Krantivritta Yantra, and Samrat Yantra are popular instruments in this observatory.

The unique and fascinating architecture makes Jantar Mantar one of the top places of tourist interest in Varanasi for people of all ages, especially kids.

Sankat Mochan temple is one of the sacred temples of Varanasi. It is located in the southern part of Varanasi, near the Banaras Hindu University. It is dedicated to the Hindu God, Hanuman.

The word "Sankat Mochan" means one who helps in removing sufferings i. e. Lord Hanuman. Tulsidas, the author of the famous Hindu epic Ramacharitamanasa, founded the Sankat Mochan temple.

According to Hindu mythology, one who visits the Sankat Mochan temple regularly, his wishes get fulfilled. The current temple structure was built in early 1900s by the educationist and freedom fighter, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of Banaras Hindu University.

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Spiritual and Cultural Significance: Beyond its natural allure, Namo Ghat also holds immense spiritual and cultural significance. In many cultures, riverbanks are considered sacred spaces, and Namo Ghat is no exception. It serves as a place for spiritual reflection, meditation, and prayer.

"Namo Ghat" could refer to different places depending on context. However, one notable location by this name is in Varanasi, India. Varanasi, also known as Banaras or Kashi, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and holds immense spiritual significance in Hinduism.

Namo Ghat is a part of the extensive network of ghats (steps leading down to the river) along the banks of the sacred river Ganges in Varanasi. Each ghat has its own history, mythology, and purpose. These ghats serve various functions, including bathing, cremation, religious rituals, and daily activities of the local community.

The term "Namo Ghat" could be a variation of the names of various ghats in Varanasi, such as Assi Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, or Dashashwamedh Ghat. Each ghat has its own significance and stories associated with it.
For example, Dashashwamedh Ghat is one of the oldest and most prominent ghats in Varanasi, known for its daily Ganga Aarti ceremony, a mesmerizing ritual of light and sound dedicated to the river goddess Ganga. Manikarnika Ghat is renowned as one of the main cremation ghats where Hindus believe that cremation at this spot leads to liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

The Swarveda Mandir is a spiritual and cultural complex located in the holy city of Varanasi, India. It is dedicated to the teachings of Saint Sadguru Sadafaldeo Ji Maharaj, a revered spiritual leader. The complex encompasses a temple, meditation halls, libraries, and other facilities for spiritual and educational purposes.

Here are some key details about the Swarveda Mandir:
Founding and Purpose: The Swarveda Mandir was established to promote the spiritual teachings of Saint Sadguru Sadafaldeo Ji Maharaj, who emphasized the importance of self-realization, inner peace, and service to humanity. The mandir serves as a center for spiritual practice, meditation, and the study of ancient scriptures.

Architecture: The temple complex is built in a modern architectural style while incorporating elements of traditional Indian design. It features intricate carvings, domes, and spires, creating a serene and sacred atmosphere conducive to spiritual contemplation.

Teachings and Philosophy: The teachings of Sadguru Sadafaldeo Ji Maharaj, encapsulated in the Swarveda, emphasize the unity of all religions and the universal principles of love, compassion, and selflessness. The Swarveda is a collection of spiritual verses that guide seekers on the path of self-realization and enlightenment.


 

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Vindhyachal Temple, also known as Maa Vindhyavasini Temple and Vindhyachal Dham, is a Hindu temple dedicated to the mother goddess Vindhyavasini, situated on the bank of river Ganga at Vindhyachal in Mirzapur district, Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the Shakti Pitha temples in India.

According to scriptures, Vindhyachal city is also believed to be the abode of Goddess Durga. Near this place, many temples dedicated to other deities can be found. Some of them are Ashtabhuji Devi Temple and Kali Khoh Temple. It is said that the goddess chose Vidhyanchal to stay after killing the demon Mahishasura. Thousands of devotees can be seen in the temples of Vidhyanchal and this number increases even more during the days of Navaratri. The whole city is decorated with lamps and flowers during this festival.[3]


Inside the Vindhyachal Temple entrance
The main deity Vindhyavasini gets her name from the Vindhya Range, literally meaning, "one who resides in Vindhya".

Prayagraj, commonly known as Allahabad, stands as a significant metropolis within the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The distance between Varanasi and Prayagraj is approximately 121 kilometers. It serves as the administrative hub of the Prayagraj district, which is not only the most populous district in Uttar Pradesh but also ranks as the thirteenth most populous in all of India. Additionally, it holds the administrative seat of the Prayagraj division.

 

The city assumes further importance as the judicial capital of Uttar Pradesh, hosting the prestigious Allahabad High Court, the apex judicial body in the state.

Prayagraj ranks as the seventh most populous city in Uttar Pradesh, the thirteenth in Northern India, and the thirty-sixth across India, boasting an estimated population of 1.53 million inhabitants within the city limits. Notably, it earned the distinction of being the world's fastest-growing city. Moreover, a ranking positioned Prayagraj as the third most livable urban agglomeration in the state (following Noida and Lucknow) and the sixteenth across the nation.

Hindi prevails as the predominant language spoken in the city, reflecting its cultural and linguistic heritage.

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16. Ayodhya

Ayodhya, located on the banks of river Sarayu in Uttar Pradesh, is one of the seven sacred cities for Hindus. The distance between Ayodhya and Varanasi (also known as Benares or Kashi) in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is approximately 220 kilometers (about 137 miles) by road.

Ayodhya plays a critical role in the Hindu epic of Ramayana as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. This religious town is also the birthplace of four of Jainism's 24 Tirthankaras (religious teachers), beckoning tourists with its serene ghats.

With monkeys galore, the buzz of the visiting tourists, and a general spiritual aura, Ayodhya has been surrounded by controversy since about a decade now. It is the site of the 1992 Indian riots related to the Babri Masjid fiasco. The mosque, which was allegedly built on Ram Janmabhoomi Temple, became the bone of contention between Hindus and Muslims. In 2005, Ayodhya witnessed a terrorist attack at the site of Ramlalla Temple.

17. Gaya 

A city of ancient historical and mythological significance, Gaya is one of the main tourist attractions in Bihar and the second largest city in the state. It is 100 km from Patna, the capital of Bihar and one of the major pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Buddhists. The distance from Gaya to Varanasi is approximately 270 kilometers (about 168 miles) when traveling by road. However, actual distances may vary depending on the specific route taken.

Its natural surroundings, narrow by lanes and its age old buildings make it special.

Gaya derives its name from Gayasur, a mythological demon. Legends say that Gaya served rigid penance and secured blessings from Lord Vishnu, after which his body transformed into the rocky hills, which now form the landscape of Gaya. 

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