Dubbed as Kashi or the City of Lights, Varanasi is a sacred town perched on the western bank of River Ganga. Whether you call it a simple historic city which has several mysteries buried deep down or the Land of Shiva, this religious city boasts of a spiritual legacy which dates back to more than 3000 years. Varanasi has been always considered as a vital pilgrimage site in India and for visitors who come from abroad; this city is a reflection of authentic India.
Unlike previous days, present Varanasi is a busy hub where all roads look similar, ghats are overcrowded and the smells of burnt firewood and fragrance of incense dissolves the air around. The floating of earthern lamps and the aartis over the Ganges is one of the biggest identities of Varanasi. Besides, this city also reflects a wide array of architecture; from the Maharajas of Rajasthan to the Kings of Bengal, all have had a vital contribution in making Varanasi an epitome of faith and rich Indian culture. Check out the best places to visit in Varanasi.
- New Vishwanath Temple: The New Vishwanath Temple is located in the premises of the world-famous BHU or the Banaras Hindu University and it is undoubtedly a must-visit on your spiritual escape to this city. The famous Birla family constructed this temple and henceforth it became known as the Birla Temple. The complex within comprises of 7 temples and the Shiva temple is perched on the ground floor. The temple walls are adorned with text from the Bhagawad Gita.
- Kathwala Temple: Famous for its precise architecture and wood work, this temple is believed to have been built by King of Nepal and hence this shrine got the name of Nepali Temple. The temple is situated in the Lalita Ghat and it attracts attention of most visitors in Varanasi.
- Monkey Temple: The Monkey temple, also known as Durga Temple is yet another attraction in Varanasi. This temple is entirely dedicated to Goddess Durga and yet it is named as Monkey Temple due to the huge crowd of monkeys around it. It is believed that the deity presiding within the temple appeared on its own and isn’t made by man.
- Manikarnika Ghat: This is the main cremation ghat and is supposed to be one of the ancient ghats of Varanasi. It is also called the Burning Ghat as dead bodies are burnt here everyday. As per Hindu mythology, it is believed that the ear ornament worn by Sati fell down here when Lord Shiva was carrying her to Himalayas. People who are cremated here attain Moksha!
Must-do activities in Varanasi
#1: Take a boat ride along the River Ganges
One of the absolute musts while visiting Varanasi is taking a boat ride along the River Ganges. Since boats are high-demand transports there, you have to negotiate the fare before starting the ride.
#2: Visit the area around Malviya Bridge
Once you’ve visited the Varanasi skyline from the boats, it’s time to take a stroll along the downstream Ganges and all the way to Malviya Bridge. It’s a double-decker bridge which has a rail track on the lower deck and a road on the upper deck.
#3: Visit Varanasi from above
You’ll find many hotels with roof terraces, either with a private balcony or with a rooftop restaurant. You can have lunch at one of those places to witness the bird’s eye view of Varanasi, the entire city. Alka Hotel and Ganpati Guest House are the 2 common ones.
#4: Experiencing the city during a festival
Thousands of people dressed in orange move around the streets and corners during festivals in Varanasi. There are relentless police forces and worshippers and visitors have to line up and obey rules which are enforced on such occasions. In order to keep things in order, the police won’t ever hesitate to use their sticks. Hence you have to be careful.