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.
Lucknow or the City of Nawabs sitting on the banks of the Gomti river, is regarded as North India’s cultural capital. Uttar Pradesh’s capital, Lucknow is replete with historical elements dating back to the colonial era that are known over the world for their Awadhi-style architecture. But Lucknow’s ethos lies in its delectable cuisine and its unique Chikankaari (shadow-work embroidery) garments that are must-buys if you are in the city. Lucknow is also known for its sweeping gardens and pure Kathak dance-forms that are showcased in numerous events held across the city. The city is also thriving with a lovely Urdu poetry scene. The ginormous tomb complex of Bara Imambara is home to a stunning labyrinth and neighboured by the equally popular mausoleum of Chhota Imambara, the Husainabad clock tower and a fantastic art gallery. And while in Lucknow, feast on its delightful assortment of Awadhi and Mughlai food that comprises of everything from kebabs to the makhan malai (a saffron-flavoured local ice-cream).
Allahabad enjoys the prestige of being one of the four holiest spots of India and thus host Maha Kumbh in every 12 years, Ardh Kumbh in every 6 years and Magh Mela once a year. The fact that it encompasses the confluence of the most sacred rivers of India- Ganga and Yamuna makes it all the more special. It has its own culture of religious and literary overtones. You not only find a number of famous temples around the city of Allahabad but also places of historical significance like Anand Bhawan having produced 5 consecutive generations of able politicians of the nation, Akbar’s fort built following the common Mughal tradition of fort construction by riverside, Khusro Bagh housing some other Mughal remains. One can't miss the famous Allahabad museum! You could take with you, religious paraphernalia, books on local literature and vintage handicrafts as mementos of the lovely city. From taking a dip in its holy waters , to enjoying a boat ride in Prayag, from throwing away coins to pay visit to Patalpuri temple, to roaming in Mughal era monuments, there are certain things unique to the city!
Home to the world famous World Heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora, Aurangabad is on every traveller's list. The city is located on the banks of the Kham River and is known as one of the most historically significant cities in Maharashtra. The Ajanta caves represent stories of Buddhism spanning from the period of 200 B.C. to 650 A.D. The Ellora caves were carved during 350 A.D. to 700 A.D. and represent the three different faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Aurangabad sees a lot of tourists from across the world and it is a great place for like-minded tourists to meet. A history lover's delight, the museums here will keep you super busy. Some of the more popular ones are Sunehri Mahal Museum, University Museum and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum. You must also visit Lonar – it is said to be the site where a meteor crashed on earth some 50,000 years ago and formed a large crater in the ground. The cafes and restaurants here are warm, welcoming and offer world class cuisines. Colourful, intriguing and vibrant, Aurangabad is a traveller's delight so if it's not on your list yet, add it.
As the name suggests, the history and significance of this place revolves around the Bodhi tree which is actually a peepal tree. The original name of the place is Gaya and the Bodhgaya is the combination of the two words Bodhi and Gaya. This is the tree under which Gautama Buddha had attained enlightenment and became Buddha- The Enlightened one. The main attraction of this place apart from the history of the Mauryan Empire is the Mahabodhi Temple. This is the oldest seat of Buddhist worship and dates back to the 2nd or 3rd Century. The initial temple structure was built by Emperor Ashika when he visited this place after he had left violence and adopted the path of peace and love. What we see at present is not at all the temple the Chinese Ambassador Fa Hien had mentioned in his account. This is a beautiful ornate temple and monastery with a beautiful spire and a large complex. What Fa Hien had mentioned was just the Bodhi Tree surrounded by brick walls. No doubt this was the forst brick Buddhist temple in the country, but presently it is much more beautiful and the magical sense of inner peace you recieve on visiting this place cannot be explained in words.