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Khajuraho Tourism

Varanasi Tourism



INTRODUCTION

Varanasi, also known as Kashi and Banaras, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth. Situated in Uttar Pradesh on the banks of river Ganga, Varanasi is among the most revered religious destinations in India. The city gets its name from two rivers i.e. Varuna and Assi, which meet here. The word Kashi is derived from the word 'Kas' which means to shine. Varanasi is famous for the bathing ghats along the banks of river Ganga. Pilgrims throng these ghats to take a holy dip to wash themselves of their sins. Varanasi has been synonymous with the majestic river Ganga and its numerous rivulets. The Ganga Aarti held every evening at Dasashwamedha Ghat is a sight to behold. It is also known as the city of temples. This city is called city of Shiva due to the legend that it is founded by Shiva. This city is also mention in Ramayana and Mahabharata. City is also famous for his saree weaving. Banarasi sarees are famous in all over world. It is part of Hindu weddings. Banarsi Paan are also very famous. The holy city is also home to spectacular festivals such as Dev Deepali (the biggest festival), Bharat Milap, Mahashivratri, Buddha Purnima and Hanuman Jayanti. Plan a trip to Varanasi (Banaras) during Dev Deepali and you will fall in love with the place for sure.

VARANASI HISTORY

Varanasi history is a collection of historical eras because it is counted among oldest living cities of the world. We have no hesitation to declare it as the oldest living city of the India. Here we have tried to explain the history of Varanasi, under different eras.

Vedic Era

According to legends Varanasi was founded by Lord Shiva. Banaras is still called 'The City of Shiva'; and devotion to Shiva can be seen in the city abundantly. Banaras has seen the Vedic religion flourishing from its own eyes. Reference to Kashi is frequently found in ancient Hindi scriptures such as Vedas, Upnishadas, and Puranas. Banaras holds a divine and important status since the beginning of the history of Hinduism. In Upanishadas, it was referred as the holiest city of all.
The Pandavas, the mythic protagonists of the Hindu epic Mahabahrata, are said to have visited the city in search of Shiva to compensate for their sin of fratricide and Brahmhatya that they had committed during the Kurukshetra War. Varanasi is regarded as one of seven holy cities (Sapt Puri) which can provide Moksha; Ayodhya, Mathura, Gaya, Kasi, Kanchi, Avantika and Dvaravati are the seven cities known as the givers of liberation. According to Kenneth Flecher Varanasi is one of the World oldest continually inhabited cities. Varanasi area is populated by Vedic people it is suggested by Archeological. Recent excavations at Aktha and Ramnagar, two sites very near to Varanasi, show them to be from 1800 BCE, also supporting the view that the Varanasi area was inhabited by this time.

Buddhist Era

Varanasi was famous as an industrial area for its Silk Fabric, Muslin, perfumes, ivory works and sculpture. At the Buddha time, Varanasi was the capital of Kashi Kingdom. The Buddha is believed to have founded Buddhism here around 528 BC when he gave his first sermon, "The setting in motion of the wheel of Dharma" at nearby Sarnath. The Chinese Traveler Hiuen Tsiang who visited the city around 635 AD attested that the city was the centre of religious and artistic activities, and it was extended about the 5 km along the western Bank of Ganga. He wrote that the city had some 30 temples with about 30 monks. The city's religious importance continued to grow in the 8th century, when Adi Shankra established the worship of Shiva as an official sect of Varanasi.

Mauryan Era

Chandradeva, founder of the Gahdavala dynasty made Banaras a second capital in 1090. At the Mauryan Era Varanasi was connected by a road starting from Taxshila ending at Patliputra. Kabir Era - During the middle age Varanasi was the centre of intellectuals and theologians. Several major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi, Kabir who was born here in 1389, and Ravidas, a 15th-century socio-religious reformer, mystic, poet, traveler, and spiritual figure, which was born and lived in the city and employed in the tannery industry.

Mughal Era

Guru Nanak Dev visited Varanasi for Shivratri in 1507 and it played a large role in the founding of Sikhism. Varanasi experienced a Hindu cultural revival in the 16th century under the Muslim Mughal Emperor Akbar who invested in the city and built two large temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. Annapurna Mandir was established by Raja of Pune at the same time Akbari Bridge was completed. In 1665 French traveler Jean Baptist Tavernier mentioned the architecture beauty of Vindu Madhava Temple on the side of the Ganga. Road infrastructure was also improved during this period. It was extended from Kolkata to Peshavar by Sher Shah Suri, now it is known as Grand Trunk Road from the British time. In 1656 Emperor Aurangajeb ordered to demolish many temples and buildings to built mosques. Much of modern Varanasi was built in 18th century.

British Era

After the death of Aurangzeb, Mughal dynasty weakened considerably. Keeping hold on the regions began to become more difficult since many Hindu landlords began standing against the Muslim rule. To address this problem, establishment of a Hindu king who would pay loyalty to the emperor, was decided. It resulted the dynasty of rulers of 'the Benares State' that lasted till the independence from the British rule. Mansa Ram was the first king of the dynasty. His successor, Balwant Singh became the king of the Benares State. There was a swish between Balwant Singh and Delhi. Raja Balwant Singh with the aid of British disconnects state of Banaras from the Delhi rule. Raja Balwant Singh also managed to keep authority of the state while keeping peace with the British. However, British grasp on the State of Benares continued to get stronger. After Balwant Singh, Chait Singh continued the struggle on. Afterwards, Benares State remained a princely state and paid allegiance to the British Raj.

Post Independence

India achieved the Independence on 15 August, 1947. Hopes were shooting up after the independence, when the nation began a new journey on its own. But corruption culture raised its head, and continued to grow stronger. Post independence era was not good to the ancient city which has a significant past. Due to the negligence from the governments and various other reasons, the development of the city was slow than the other major Indian cities. Due to un development the citizen of the city migrated to other cities, while also attracting immigrants in large count from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states.
Currently, Varanasi is a major city. It serves as a major commercial centre in the eastern Uttar Pradesh state and western Bihar state. Holding 4 universities (including Banaras Hindu University – BHU, one of the most prominent universities in India), Banaras is a notable centre of education. Religious and cultural importance is maintained, and Banaras is respected by Hindus and Buddhists in particular from entire world. In the 2014 parliamentary elections of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected as the 'Member of Parliament' from Varanasi. Prime Minister has vowed to return the city its glory.

DIFFERENT NAMES

Vaaranasi is the oldest city of India known as the cultural, religious, spiritual, intellectual and holy city by the Hindus, Jains and Buddhists pilgrims. It is also called as the "city of temples", "spiritual city of India", "Holy city of India", "oldest inhabited city of India", "city of God", "city of ghats", Kasika, Avimukta, Anandavana and Rudravasa, Kashi, Banaras etc.

VARANASI LOCATION

Varanasi is a holy and spiritual city of North India located on the banks of the Ganges River (at 80.71 m elevation from river) in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The city has covered around 112.26 km² of the area. Varanasi city is located at the Latitude 25.317644 and Longitude 82.973915. The urban agglomeration area of the city is stretched between 82° 56'E to 83° 03'E and 25° 14'N to 25° 23.5'N. The normal temperature of the city is between 32°C to 46°C (90°F to 115°F) in the summer season and 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F) in the winter season. The normal rate of the annual rainfall is around 1110 mm. Varanasi has a population of 1,164,404 making it the 6th biggest city in Uttar Pradesh. It operates on the BURT time zone.

HOW TO REACH VARANASI

By Bus

Within India one can very easily reach Varanasi. From Kolkata it's just an 8 hours drive, 10 - 12 hours drive from New Delhi and around 30 hours from Mumbai Central. Buses begin from cities like Gorakhpur, Gaya, Delhi, Khajuraho, and Allahabad. There are buses from Nepal too!

By Train

The Varanasi railway junction and Kashi railway station are the two main railheads in Varanasi. Travellers can make their travel bookings till either of these two stations. Both these railway stations are well linked with prime Indian cities via extensive rail network. There are both direct and indirect trains to reach Banaras. From New Delhi it's an 18 hours route.

By Air

All leading airlines from all over the country take you to Banaras. There are flights from all major cities of India like Mumbai, Lucknow, Kolkata, Khajuraho, Mumbai and Agra.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best time to visit Varanasi is during the winter season between October -March, as this time the temperature ranges from 50C - 150C and most of the Hindu festivals are falling around this time which raises the fun to visit the city. The time between April - June is too hot and humid temperature ranges from 320C - 460C, and from July to September, there is a rainy season and showcases the real beauty of the city and nature.

PLACES TO VISIT IN VARANASI

A place of religious importance for Hindus, Varanasi is visited by pilgrims all year round. A visit to Varanasi is your ticket to an understanding of Hindu culture and rituals. The Kashi Vishwanath temple is the most famous tourist attraction in Varanasi. There are close to 2000 temples here making Varanasi the spiritual capital of India. Varanasi is the house of Sightseeing places. Varanasi Monument of Ramnagar fort and Chunar fort is also must to see place in Varanasi. Places to visit in Banaras are Ghats of River Ganga. Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Bharat Kala Bhavan, Banaras Hindu University, Ramnagar Fort, Dashashawmegh Ghat, Assi Ghat, Man Mandir Ghat are place to must visit in Banaras city tour. If one want to Whole Banaras Tourism so he should spend 3-4 days here.

FESTIVALS

Festivals in Varanasi are celebrated in full mood with great harmony.

Mahashivratri

Varanasi is the city of Lord Shiva so the Mahashivratri hold an important place here. It is called that it is the day of Shiva's marriage. Thandai a drink is also special on this day. Shiva temples are gracefully decorated on this festival.

Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Buddha. It is celebrated with traditional religious fervor in the city. The festival falls on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Vaisakh (April/May). On this auspicious occasion, a large fair is held at Sarnath and the relics of Lord Buddha are taken out for public display.

Makara Sankranti

Celebrated in the month of January, it is also one of the major festivals in Varanasi. It is festival of Donation. People donate things to Brahmins and celebrated it with sweets of Til and Gud.

Ramleela

It is a 20 days long stage drama performance in which life of lord Rama is enacted and shown to people. It is a very meaningful show in which artists try to show the life-cycle of lord Rama which includes episodes from birth till killing of Ravana. It shows the struggle period of lord Rama, his sacrifices so that society will take lesson from their life and try to live better life.

Dussehra

Dussehra in Varanasi is also very popular among visitors. During this day, whole city seems to be in mood of celebration, carnivals are visible on all major roads. In this day, King of Varanasi takes round of old city area on elephant. This was age old tradition when Raja ji take riding tour from palace to lanes of city.

ACCOMMODATION

There are many hotels with roof terraces - either with a restaurant, or a private balcony adjoining the room. We suggest having lunch at one of these places to see Varanasi from above. There are many hotels in the Varanasi so you can book hotels according to your choice. You can find medium to luxury as about your need and choice.

NEXT TO VARANASI

Varanasi is a pilgrimage site. After Varanasi we can add in Varanasi tourism other places also as Sarnath, Bheemshanker, Chitrakoot, Kushi Nagar, Gorakhpur, Buxer, Bodhgaya, Sasaram, Ayodhya, and Mirzapur are the same weekend places. There is a long list of weekend places from Varanasi.

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