1. Oldest City of India
The holy city of Varanasi (Banaras once) that draws millions to its famous ghats every year to take a dip in the Ganges is as old as the Indus Valley civilization. According to a new study conducted by IIT-Kharagpur using GPS technology, they’ve found that Varanasi could be as old as 6,000 years. The city which is India’s spiritual capital is believed to have had human settlements dating back to the Indus Valley civilization if not older. The origin of the name of Varansai is behind the names of two rivers, the Varun and the Assi.
The God Shiva says, in the ancient, Varanasi city was found by the Hindu deity the Lord himself which makes it one of the most important and old pilgrimage destinations in the India. There was a general belief that the Varanasi stands on the “The Trishool” (also known as Trident), the weapon of the Lord Shiva. The name of the city is mentioned in many Hindu scriptures such as the Rigveda, Skanda Purana, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata.
2. Festivals – Holi, Diwali, Mahashivratri
The festival of colors paints the city in different hues giving its ghats and alleyways a renewed look. No wonder many foreigners throng the city during Holi capture its beauty and get drenched in a sea of colors. During Diwali each and every ghats of Ganga river are packed with the huge crowd of pilgrims and diyas. They flow thousands of Diyas (also known as earthen lamps) in the holy water of Gange for their Gods according to the ritual beliefs and culture.Shiva is one of the most revered gods in India and Varanasi is one of the city that celebrates Mahashivratri on an grand scale. The Bhang in Thandiaa being is the special attraction on this day .
3. Uniquely Enticing Ghats
The place derived its name from the Ghats , Varun ghat to Assi ghat. The ghats have a charm of their own, with interesting stories about them. This can be metling pot of all religions. These ghats being confluence of rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Brahmaputra makes them even more auspicious.
4. The Ganga Aarti
Ganga aarti is performed in the evening. This is the place where science and religion come to an end, where human emotion and beliefs are supreme. When you see this magnificent river, you realise that the river truly has a soul of its own. The sight of thousands of people coming here to offer their prayers, bow their heads and offer respects, perform pujas and float candles in small cups is mesmerising. The emotions on their faces and their firm belief that this is the purest river on earth that washes all sins despite being one of the most polluted river body would leave you speechless.
5. The Crazy Rikshaw-Wallah
Yes, you heard it right. In this world of motorised transport a nostalgic experience of the past, Not to miss the riders vivaciousness .
6. The Marijuna Friendly Place
Ganja on the Ganges is most popular and culturally viable activity. Consumption of bhaang (marijuana mixed with milk, sugar, poppy seeds, dried fruits and nuts) is ceremonial in the holy town of Varanasi. You will see people smoking up or drinking liquid marijuana quite liberally, for religious reasons of course ;)
7. The stay- Gentle On Pocket
With no hole blown through your pocket, this place provides you with a variety of hotels, starting from 450/- Yes , you read it right . And not to forget the amazing ghat view from your hotel window.
8. The Banarasi Sari
Silk Weavers from Gujarat migrated to Banaras in 17th Century after a famine in 1603. Zari and Brocade textiles are a speciality of the city. The names of the saris are kept as per the motifs or patterns woven in them. Banaras saris have kept abreast with changing tastes bad embolden women with their ever elegant finesse. Don’t forget to pick one for your lady.
9. The Handicrafts
Varanasi has, times immemorial, been hailed as a premier centre for some of the finest handicrafts. The most renowned craft of the city is Silk weaving. ‘Banarasi Sarees’ produced by local craftsman are among the most preferred, not only in India but across the world. Brassware, copperware, ivory work , glass bangles, wood, stone and clay toys and exquisite gold jewellery are some of the other crafts the city is famous for. Bhadohi Carpets and musical instruments are among the other shopping attractions.
10. The Music
Varanasi has joined the global bandwagon of UNESCO After religion, it is music that courses through the streets of Varanasi. The city has been home to number of maestros, including Ustad Bismillah Khan and Pandit Ravi Shankar. One of the most immersive experiences in the city is listening to a classical music concert at the Music Paradise Hall. Find yourself swept away by the trains of the sarod or flute or the rhythm of the tabla.
There are also many music schools in the city should you wish to learn an instrument and there are lots of shops to buy them too.
11. The Sumptuous Street Food
When it comes to chaat you will get all the usual variations ranging from Tikkis (potato patty served with chick-pea gravy), paani-puris and dahi-vadas.
Litti-Chokha. A popular dish from the Eastern U.P. / Bihar region, Litti Chokha represents how simple and delightful Indian food can be.
12.The Bhang Thandai
Your body might attain salvation through a dip in Ganga, but your stomach won’t attain the same unless you try the Bhanng infused Thandai.
13. The Boat Rides
Varanasi is all about Boat Rides. The most popular place to hire a boat is at Dashashvamedh Ghat—essentially in the middle of Varanasi. Experience the sunrise or sunset and the rates are negotiable, but it should cost about Rs. 125 per person for an hour, or Rs. 500 for a private boat. If you are traveling to Varanasi between July and September, check with the Ministry of Tourism Office first, as boat rides are sometimes prohibited during monsoons for safety reasons.
14. The Chaotic Galli’s
Away from the extreme civilisation, the narrow nukkads of this place are worth exploring on foot. It is the most famous city for its muslin, silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and various sculptures. Hence one can explore the gallis to meet new people, shop, eat and click.
15. The Night Owl
This city of lights never sleeps. If you are done with your Dj’s night life, here is a perfect way to embrace a new experience. Being one of most populated and crowded cities of India, the night is full of life. The classical music, the chaos, the crowd, the lights, the enchanting form the temples are enough to make the night alive.
16. The Date with the Wisest
Needless to say, this breed seems the wisest, and the wise is always happy. You get to meet the Saddhu – Babas (smoking up) with whom you can have an intense conversation about karma and dharma ! And of course a lot of gyaan on yoga , mediation and mukti.
17. The Wall Art
Every second wall here is bedaubed in such breathtaking colors as to make the picture come alive. Its an art lover’s delight !
18. The Ruins of Sarnath
Sarnath, located just 12 km from the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, is the site of the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. All of the ancient buildings and structures at Sarnath were damaged or destroyed by the Turks. However, amongst the ruins the Dharmekh Stupa is impressive at 128 feet high, and 93 in diameter. The Ruins are worth a visit.
19. The City of Hope
With its ancient roots , Varanasi uniquely straddles both the ancient as well as the modern. Looking at devotees’ faith bordering on the unbelievable it always reinforces your faith in the existence of that unknown entity termed as god. People given up on anything positive happening in their endeavours should be surprised to have that changed.
20. The Life Lessons
In the face of the departed souls you start looking at death in a more refined way . When material things cease to hold that important a sway on your life and they couldn’t matter less. Death will stop frightening and become something ordinary. It adds a new dimension to your perceptive about life . Varanasi – The place where life and death meets.
Hence I say,