One would not disagree to agree that the grind we have got ourselves into, we need to reanimate to allow life to run its due course. Such was the excitement for VARANASI, that I was ready to zoom out and get close to understanding my religion, Hinduism. After reading a lot on how comfortable Varanasi is for traveller’s world over, I felt confident.
For minds brimming with ideas on what this place could offer, here are a few 'must visit' places:
- Kashi Vishwanath temple located in the heart of the city is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva in India.
- Annapurna Devi Mandir built by Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao. One needs to look for Sri Sri Annapurna Yantra inside the temple and spend a few moments meditating in its presence.
- Kali temple located at the Dasaswamedh Ghat. Tripur Bhairavi Sadhana, which is chanting done worshiping the Tripur Bhairavi Yantra and the Goddess is prayed to for one’s wellbeing.
- A very famous naga sadhu named Swami Trailinga, was known for his spiritual powers back then. Trailinga Swami’s ashram is a small Temple located in Varanasi on the Panchganga ghat worshipping him, which should not be missed.
- Next on the list is Sarnath. Here in the Deer Park, it is being said that Lord Buddha visited Sarnath from Bodh Gaya after his enlightment under the Bodhi tree. He taught his disciples and enlightened them as well. Dhamekh Stupa where Buddha preached his first sermon has a peaceful aura around it. There were some excavated site in the park which was the hub for cities/temples in the Maurayan Period. Here in the Deer Park, King Ashoka had erected magnificent stupas and monasteries. The next sight was the Ashoka Pillar with 4 lions seated back to back also called the Ashoka Coloumn. The material used for making this pillar is chunar standstone. From this the National emblem of India is derived.
- Dasaswamedh Ghat, attend the soulful Evening Ganges Aarti. Opt for a boat ride and view the Aarti while seated at the boat. Based on the season the timings of the Aarti may differ, but the same can be confirmed from the localites. It’s a long coast line and series of Ghats. The lighted up ghat looked spectacular. Serenading smoothly on the Ganges, we took a boat ride before the evening Aarti commenced. We passed by the Harishchandra Ghat. Also called as The Burning Ghat of Varanasi named after the Hindu mythological King Harishchandra. The Manikarnika and the Harishchandra Ghats are dedicated to the cremation rituals in India.
- Every morning prayers are offered to the River Ganges at Assi Ghat. River Ganges, is a goddess and devotees worship with floating diya and flowers. It takes place at 4:30 am every morning. The concurrent ringing of the hand bells would be your alarm bell.
- A boat ride to Ramnagar Fort. The Fort of King Kashi Naresh Vibhuti Narayan Singh, with extravagant things of royalty are rusting profusely currently. Hoards of Bats are glued on to the ceilings now. Exciting part is the boat ride to the fort and the larger than life view of the River Ganges.
Things, not to be missed:
- Kachouri/Phirni/Samosa – local eateries at Lanka market.
- A morning Yoga session, like the one which took place at my home stay, Yoga House.
- Desi Bhangh or Thandai
- Benarsi Paan
- Marwari Thali for dinner at Jaipuria Bhawan, every evening at 8:00 pm it is served. Try to be early and try not missing it.
- Hajmola tea served in the night, at Assi Ghat
- Boat ride during the sunrise and sunset, is a must