The most important and busiest of all ghats, the Dasaswamedh Ghat is also the oldest of all. The Kashi Viswanathar Temple is on the banks of this ghat and thus is the most popular with locals as well tourists. The main attraction is the evning aarti here and also the sight of people busy in their daily activities and religious rituals such as worships, cremations and others.
This is a beautiful ghat on the southernmost region of Varanasi and is often the most popular among forest tourists, especially students. People make it a must point to take a dip here before they seek the blessings from the Shivalinga under the ancient peepal tree just on the banks of the river ghat. There is also the Asisangameshvar Temple dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva again. The name of this temple is such because it is situated on the confluence point of the Assi. A little distance from the temples there are twin tanks out of which the more popular has always been the Lorkar Tank which is unfortunately almost abandoned now. People however come and bath here during the Lorkar Fair when they seek blessings from the lord mainly for a male child. Another significance of this place is that this is said to be once of the places from where the Hindu religion originated.
Sarnath is an ancient city which is situated near the meeting point of holy river Ganges and the Gomti River. When Lord Buddha had attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, he is said to have come down over here and preached his first sermon which was about the middle path of Nirvana. When the followers of Buddha increased even after his death, there were many monasteries and stupas built here. In the th Century when the Chinese traveller Xuang Dan came, there was a 100 ft stupa of Lord Buddha and was the most important seat of Buddhism. Later the Muslims attacked this place and ransacked all the stupas and Sarnath disappeared magically to be found again by British archeologists in the 19th Century. The city was again revived and the ruined structures of the Buddhists are still found here and the Sarnath Deer Park which is the place where the First Sermon was preached is remarkable. It is still one of the four most important seats of Buddhism worship. People come here more during the Buddha Purnima or when his death anniversary is marked.
According to legendary tales, the Manikarnika Kund is even older than the River Ganges and it was created by Lord Vishnu as a symbol of the creation of the Universe. The Manikarnika Ghat was however made by Lord Shiva and is said to be a samsham or cremation ground for the Hindus completely. As it is people say that death in Kashi leads to Moksha and thus people come here to cremate their loved ones and pray for their souuls to attain moksha. This is second in importance to the Dashashwamedha Ghat and is also one of the Pancha Sthans for holy Hindu worship.
Our next stop was Ramnagar Fort. This fort's architecture is simple and aesthetic. Its artifacts showcases the entire timeline of 'Benarasi' culture. The Vintage cars and carts, the apparels, the arms and ammunition - everything was archaic! I loved a clock here, which showed the position of the sun, moon and details of a zodiac sign. Truly awesome! Ask someone for the famous lassi shop around. Do not miss it! :)
Banaras Hindu University Campus
Final day of the trip, we went to BHU - one of the most prestigious institute of our country. The campus is beautiful and youngsters add more life to this place. It has a Vishwanath temple inside, with a peaceful garden. I spotted students studying in its premises. The outlets right at the entrance of this temple serve delicious cold coffee and mango shake! We also visited other famous local temples close to the campus - 'Sankat Mochan' Hanuman mandir, Durga Mata mandir and Manas mandir. I was amazed to see the entire 'Ramayana' engraved on the walls of Manas temple! Do not miss to have 'Banarasi Meetha paan'. Also, do have the famous sweet 'Launglata' and lassi at the store - 'Pehelvaan launglata and lassi wale' in Lanka. The smell and taste of mud oozed out of a 'kulhad' tantalizes ones taste buds. Foodgasm at its peak! ;) My Varanasi diary comes to an end here. Enjoy mystical Banaras!
New Vishwanath Temple
Better known as the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, this is one of the most famous Hindu temples in the world. Moreover, this is the holiest existing place for Hindus in the country. The Shivalingam worshipped here is said to be the oldest and holiest of all other Jyotiralingams. The temple is also known as the Golden Temple as the gopuram or upper facade is wrapped in gold sheets. This place of worship is also mentioned in the Mahabharata which has always made Varanasi the holiest place of worship for the Hindus in the world. The temple was built much later by a Maratha queen named Ahilyabai Holkar. This is also one of the most visited places on Earth.
One of the oldest educational institutions of Uttar Pradesh, this was earlier known as the Uttara Kasi University or the Hindu College. This is the public Central University of Benaras and the land for this place was donated by the formal ruler of kashi who is known as the Kashi Naresh. This is also one of the most prominent universities of the country and still partly follows the system of Vedic Education like in the early days. They have a very large campus which is spread over many acres of land. Within this there are not only the university units but also a number of big trees under which classes are helf till now. This is one of the very universities where you can opt for a specialization in Vedic scriptures and studies and the very learned Pandits here will train you with a lot of discipline. Apart from this they have all sorts of subjects from Science, Arts, Commerce, Economics, Astrology, Astronomy, Literature, Philosophy and much more. Modern developments and technologies along with very modernized studying techniques have found very distinctive positions in this university in spite of the traditional methods of teaching in existence.
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
This temple dedicated to Hanuman ji is small but peaceful. You will not experience the rush that one invariably witnesses at Kashi Vishwanath temple. Avoid going on a saturday as it will be jam packed. It's great because you can take your time and do darshan for as long or less a time as you wish. A must visit for devotees and even otherwise.
Golden Temple (Kashi Vishwanath)
Also known as just the Vishwanath Temple, this is the one temple around which the whole city partly revolves around. This is not only the most important place for Hindu pilgrimage but also one of the most important temples all round the world. The mention of kashi was even there during the Mahabharata but the temple was built during the 18th Century by the the Maratha queen named Rani Ahilyabai Holkar. This temple is also known as the Golden Temple because of the gold wrapped main spire of the temple. There are smaller shrines too inside the temple complex and the evening aarti here on the Dashashwamedh Ghat is a sight to behold.
Brown Bread Bakery Varanasi
The Bakery was started in the year 2006 as the first organic bakery in Varanasi. This was started keeping in mind the campaign of Learn for Life- Another World is Possible. In the year 2011, the Organic Bakery Restaurant and the German Bakery were started jointly for public service. The team here tries to use almost 100% farm fresh ingredients in all their bread and food products. The vegetables, fruits and grains are supplied by local farmers who have been certified by the authority. The jams and muesli are made by the women empowerment team on their own. The cheeses are all brought down from Himachal Pradesh, South India, Nepal and Sikkim. They also have an awesome bakery shop where all the ace quality products are offered to the customers.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
After taking rest of around 2 hours I got ready to visit famous Kashi Vishwanath temple.Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most important place to see in Varanasi. The history of this sacred shrine can be traced back to 3500 years. The temple is one of the 12th Jyotirlingas, which are considered the holiest Shiva temples. The Linga is the presiding deity here and the temple is quadrangle, surrounded by temples of other gods. The temple once had a golden spire and domes; hence it was also called the Golden Temple.I reach temple at around 7 am and it was less crowded. After having darshan of Lord Shiva in Kashi Vishwanath Temple I headed towards the Ganges ghat.
A ten-minute auto ride to Godowlia gives her a fair idea of what the rest of Varanasi would look like - a hazy (dust-filled air), maze of lanes and bylanes crammed with shops, bicycles and an occasional buffalo. The start to the day couldn't have been better because the kachori-subji and jalebi for breakfast at one of the many shops there hits just the right chord and she walks further into the bylanes humming 'Rang mai bhang ya, bhang mai rang, bana-rasiya'. Crossing the shops selling huge varieties of aachar and papad, she comes across this rather shabby looking lassi shop called Blue Lassi. Exorbitant rates for a glass of lassi, she thinks. But the varities are tempting, as is the urge to wash down the spicy after-taste of the breakfast. She settles for banana lassi.
Banaras Hindu University
BHU is one of the oldest Universities in India. Once you enter the Uni premises, it will be completely different from the Varanasi you're used to. It's beautifully maintained and very quaint in its look. there's a museum there in the Archaeology department which is good. Also, a Shri Vishwanathan Temple inside the university premises which is good, if you are religious.
Chet Singh Ghat
The first wedding function was at the Chet Singh Kila located above a ghat with the same name. It was constructed in the mid 18th century by Raja Chet Singh. He lost the fort to the British Governor General Hastings a few years later. The small fort has retained most of its beautiful structure even though it is sadly unkempt. I can imagine minor restoration turning this into a popular tourist destination- not only due to its obscure history but also its imposing view over the river. Apparently used only a couple of times a year for functions, we were lucky to have spent an evening looking over its turrets while eating Banarasi chaat with some smuggled black label. Alcohol and meat is banned within 200m of the holy river. We got to and back from Chet Singh ghat using the hotel boat. Boats aren't allowed to ply post 9pm so be sure to account for that if it's your main means of transportation.
Dashaswmedh Ghat Banaras
The road surrounding the Dashaswamedha Ghat is known as the Dashaswmedh Ghat Road. This is the place of the Kashi Viswanath Temple which is the holiest pilgrimage site for the Hindus. This road is lined with hotels, restaurantsm, sweet shops and pan shops. There are also a number of narrow alleys surrounding this place which is a mark of Benaras.
We arrived at VNS airport on a fairly convenient Indigo flight from CCU Kolkata in the early morning. We'd chosen a hotel called Brij Rama palace which was very close to the wedding venue on the ghats and came highly recommended by a local friend. The hotel car got us till the Rajghat from where we transferred to a boat. This is where our adventure began. The boat took us past several of the 80+ ghats. We could see people swimming, washing clothes, fishing, praying, and riding boats in the water. The one thing that strikes you is how dense the construction on the ghats is. It's temple over temple over house over fort over the steps - repeated 80 times over. The eastern bank of the river is empty by comparison because vaastu shastra recommends that ghats face East and therefore the West bank is where the city is located. We passed by a Nmami Ganga trawler which is a Modi government initiative to clean up the Ganges.The three sights that caught my fancy during the first boat ride were: 1) The imposing Alamgir mosque which sticks out on top of the Panchganga ghat due to its incongruous Mughal architecture against the largely Hindu motif2) The cremation fires burning at the Jalasen/Manikarnika ghat; the fact that children were bathing in the river on ghats either side of the funeral pyres made me realize that people have a more stoic acceptance of death here than in any other city 3) Prayer party boats (for lack of a better phrase). There are these dinghys that go back and forth along the ghats with loud speakers playing bhajans to the tune of mostly raunchy Bollywood songs. Some men dance on the front - high on either ganja or religion!We arrived at the hotel in 20mins. It is one of the most beautiful buildings by the river. The Brij Rama palace was made in 1812 overlooking the Munshi/Darbangha ghat. Ownership changed many hands and it finally opened for business as a hotel last year after nearly 2 decades of renovation. The elevator which brings you up to the hotel from the ghat is a refurbished version of the first ever elevator installed in India. If it fits your budget - I highly recommend staying at this hotel. Not only is it one of the oldest palaces here (apart from Ramnagar fort) but it's also located plum next to the Dasahwamedh ghat famous for its evening Aarti.
Deena Chat House
Also known as the Deena Chat Bhandar, this is one of the best and most popular chat shops in Benaras. The shop is near the Gadowlia Road and is quite big for guests to sit and enjoy the lip smacking chats. Their specialties are the aloo chat, tamatar chat, samosa, palak chat, patties and gulab jamun. The taste is good for everything and cleanliness is also maintained well here.
Most of the ghats are used for bathing and for doing puja rituals.As you walk along the ghats, you can see the kids diving into river for taking coins which are thrown into Ganga by devotees, flower sellers and priests.Noisy yet inherent stillness Varanasi is.How to reach?Fly to varanasi. Indi go may cost anywhere from 2.3k INR to 4k INr for one wayTo roam around varanasi,you can take normal autos/rickshaws as ola cabs are of little help.They charge anywhere from 10/- to 20/- per 1 km.Share autos are also available.I used Ola to go Sarnath from VaranasiMiscillaneousBefore entering Kashi viswanath temple, keep your mobile phones and luggages at your stay.Else you can keep in lockers available near temple.SouvenirsApart from religious take away things you can consider buying below items as well1.Banaras sarees2.Minakari toys/jewels3.Relish the taste of paan/chaats4.Paan mixtures, a lot of different flavours available
Yoga House, a lovely home stay. Right at the banks of River Ganges, the view from the rooms is amazing. The blue walls of this place has a soothing effect. Rohit, the owner of the place is very helpful. His contact number: +91 7080354441 The room rent is around 1800 INR per night and and extra 300 bucks for a yoga class.
This is one of the most accessible and also one of the most important ghats of Benaras or Varanasi. This is the ghat which is mostly chosen by boat operators to start from on a boating tour along the Ganges River. You have to reach this temple after crossing like a labyrinth of very narrow lanes and alleys filled with eateries, shops and chaos. As you reach this ghat, you will find that this is cleaner than many other and is mainly famous for the beautiful Kedareshwar Temple.