Varanasi (also called Benaras) is one of the most sacred cities in the world today. Mark Twain famously described it as being “older than history”. The history of this city dates back to as much as 8,000 years. Located on the banks of the Ganges (also known as the Ganga) and founded by Lord Shiva, this city has been mentioned in scriptures from the early Vedic period.
The Ganges is viewed as the river of salvation and a symbol of hope making this city magical and overwhelming. Many rituals take place in public on the city’s ghats and the accessibility to the ancient but living traditions is what attracts many visitors to Varanasi. The Ganges is the most important river in the Indian subcontinent and people travel long distances to come to the holy river. Although, the water is now polluted, the sanctity of the river and belief of the people are still the same.
It is not possible to imagine Varanasi without the Ganges and watching the sunset over the river is probably one of the most beautiful sights people see during their trips to the holy city.
Varanasi is also known for its old and beautiful temples including Kashi Vishwanath, Kal Bhairava, Durga Kund and Annapurna. These temples get particularly crowded during religious activities. Apart from the attractions, music and dance also remain important aspects of the history of this city. There are a number of dance festivals in Varanasi and many famous musicians and dancers trace back the origins of their art to this city.
Facts about Varanasi
- Varanasi has attracted many pilgrims. It was even visited by Buddha after he achieved enlightenment. Pilgrims continue to visit Varanasi to wash away their sins in the Ganges.
- There’s a common belief according to which anyone who dies in Varanasi attains instant enlightenment. Hence, many elderly people choose to spend their final days in this city.
- Varanasi is home to the first university established in India in 1916. It’s known as the Banaras Hindu University.
Where is Varanasi?
Varanasi is located on the banks of the River Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. It is about 200 miles away from the capital of the state, Lucknow.
Best time to visit Varanasi
The best months to visit Varanasi are October and March. This is a good time since the temperatures are quite pleasant. The winter months bring in a lot of tourists since that’s when festivals are celebrated with enthusiasm. The summer in the city is really hot and humid so visiting between April and October would not be a good idea.
Places to Visit Nearby are: Mughalsarai, Lucknow, Mirzapur, Chunar
MS20151107Published On: Friday, August 2nd, 2013