Discovering Varanasi: 15 Best Places to Visit in Banaras – Kashi

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Kashi Vishwanath Temple:

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, also known as the Golden Temple, stands as a symbol of devotion and architectural brilliance. It is believed that a single glimpse of the Jyotirlinga housed in the sanctum sanctorum can liberate one from the cycle of birth and death. The temple has undergone several renovations and has witnessed the rise and fall of empires throughout history, yet it remains a beacon of spiritual enlightenment for millions of devotees.

  • Opening Time: 3:00 AM (Morning Mangala Aarti)
  • Closing Time: 11:00 PM

Assi Ghat:

Assi ghat

Assi Ghat is not just a physical location but a spiritual hub where seekers of truth and enlightenment converge. It is said that a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges at Assi Ghat absolves one of sins and grants liberation. The ghat is also a center for cultural activities, with artists, musicians, and philosophers often gathering here to share their talents and insights.

Dashashwamedh Ghat:

The Dashashwamedh Ghat is steeped in mythology and is believed to be the spot where Lord Brahma performed the great sacrifice (Yajna) of ten horses. The Ganga Aarti held here every evening is a mesmerizing spectacle, drawing crowds from far and wide to witness the rhythmic chants, the glowing lamps, and the sacred rituals that have been performed here for centuries.

Sarnath, located just a few kilometers from Varanasi, is a pilgrimage site of immense significance for Buddhists around the world. It was here that Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon, known as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, to his five disciples, setting in motion the Wheel of Dharma. The Dhamek Stupa and the Ashoka Pillar stand as silent witnesses to the profound teachings that emanated from this hallowed ground.

  • Opening Time: 6:00 AM
  • Closing Time: 5:00 PM

Manikarnika Ghat:
Manikarnika Ghat holds a central place in Hindu mythology and tradition as one of the oldest and holiest cremation grounds in Varanasi. It is believed that those who are cremated here attain Moksha, breaking free from the cycle of rebirth. The constant crackling of funeral pyres and the scent of incense mingling with the aroma of sandalwood permeate the air, reminding visitors of the impermanence of life and the eternal nature of the soul.

Banaras Hindu University (BHU):
Banaras Hindu University is not just an educational institution but a microcosm of Indian culture and heritage. Spread across a sprawling campus, BHU houses academic departments, research centers, libraries, and museums that showcase the rich tapestry of India’s intellectual and artistic achievements. From the iconic Bharat Kala Bhavan to the serene Vishwanath Temple within its premises, BHU is a living embodiment of the ancient wisdom that has flourished in Varanasi for millennia.

Tulsi Manas Temple:
The Tulsi Manas Temple is dedicated to the legendary poet-saint Goswami Tulsidas, who composed the epic Ramcharitmanas here in the 16th century. The walls of the temple are adorned with verses from this sacred text, narrating the divine exploits of Lord Rama. Devotees throng to this temple to seek blessings and immerse themselves in the devotional fervor that permeates its surroundings.

  • Opening Time: 5:30 AM
  • Closing Time: 12:00 PM (noon), and then reopens at 3:00 PM until 9:00 PM

Durga Temple (Durga Kund Mandir):
The Durga Temple is an architectural marvel dedicated to Goddess Durga, the divine mother and the embodiment of Shakti (divine feminine energy). Legend has it that the idol of the goddess manifested on its own in the temple, attracting devotees from far and wide seeking her divine blessings. The vibrant colors, intricate carvings, and religious fervor make this temple a must-visit destination in Varanasi.

  • Opening Time: 5:00 AM
  • Closing Time: 12:00 PM (noon), and then reopens at 3:00 PM until 10:00

Ramnagar Fort:
Built in the 18th century by the Maharaja of Banaras, the Ramnagar Fort stands as a testament to the grandeur and opulence of the bygone era. Its massive sandstone walls enclose a sprawling complex of palaces, courtyards, and gardens that once served as the residence of the Kashi Naresh (King of Varanasi). The fort also houses a museum that showcases a treasure trove of artifacts, including royal weapons, vintage cars, and ornate palanquins, offering visitors a glimpse into the regal splendor of the past.

  • Opening Time: 10:00 AM
  • Closing Time: 5:00 PM

Bharat Mata Mandir:
The Bharat Mata Mandir, dedicated to Mother India, is a unique temple that symbolizes the unity and diversity of the nation. Its marble structure houses a map of undivided India, depicting the geographical and cultural richness of the land. Visitors pay homage to the spirit of patriotism and nationalism that pervades the temple, fostering a sense of pride and solidarity among all who enter its sacred precincts.

  • Opening Time: 7:00 AM
  • Closing Time: 5:00 PM

Kedar Ghat:
Kedar Ghat is named after the devotee Kedar who is said to have received a boon from Lord Shiva at this very spot. The ghat is a serene sanctuary for spiritual seekers and devotees who come to offer prayers and perform rituals in reverence to the divine. From dawn till dusk, the ghat reverberates with the sounds of chanting, bells, and the gentle lapping of the holy waters of the Ganges, creating an atmosphere of sublime tranquility and devotion.

New Vishwanath Temple (Birla Temple):
The New Vishwanath Temple, also known as the Birla Temple, is a modern marvel of architecture and spirituality. Constructed by the Birla family in 1966, the temple is adorned with intricate carvings, sculptures, and murals that depict scenes from Hindu mythology and scriptures. Devotees throng to this temple to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva and to immerse themselves in the divine vibrations that permeate its sanctum sanctorum.

  • Opening Time: 4:30 AM
  • Closing Time: 12:00 PM (noon), and then reopens at 4:00 PM until 9:00 PM

Banaras Ghats:
The ghats of Varanasi are not just physical landmarks but sacred spaces imbued with spiritual significance and historical lore. From the mystical Assi Ghat to the ancient Manikarnika Ghat, each ghat has its own story to tell and its own rituals to perform. Whether it’s taking a holy dip in the sacred waters of the Ganges, performing pujas and aartis, or simply observing the ebb and flow of life along the riverbank, the ghats offer a glimpse into the timeless beauty and eternal wisdom of Varanasi.

Chunar Fort:
Perched atop a rocky cliff overlooking the Ganges, the Chunar Fort has stood as a sentinel of history and heritage for centuries. Originally built by the Gupta Empire, the fort has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous dynasties, from the Mughals to the British. Its strategic location made it a key stronghold in the defense of Varanasi, earning it the title of “Gateway to Eastern Uttar Pradesh.” Today, the fort’s imposing ramparts, crumbling battlements, and echoing chambers echo with the whispers of bygone eras, inviting visitors to step back in time and relive the tales of valor and conquest that echo within its walls.

  • Opening Time: 8:00 AM
  • Closing Time: 6:00 PM

Tomb of Lal Khan:
The Tomb of Lal Khan is a testament to the cultural syncretism and architectural brilliance that define Varanasi’s heritage. Lal Khan, a nobleman during the Mughal era, played a pivotal role in the region’s history. His tomb, adorned with intricate carvings and exquisite craftsmanship, reflects the Indo-Islamic architectural style prevalent during that period. As visitors explore this historical gem, they are transported to a time when art, culture, and spirituality flourished in harmony, leaving an indelible mark on the city’s landscape.

  • Opening Time: 9:00 AM
  • Closing Time: 5:00 PM

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