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Home >> Destinations>> Varanasi
VARANASI

Suken Temple - Varanasi A crumbling maze of a city that rises from the ghats (steps) on the western banks of the Ganges, Varanasi is in many senses the quintessential India. With an ancient history - Mark Twain famously described it as "older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together" - it is also one of the most sacred cities in the world today.

Named after the confluence of two rivers, Varuna and Asi, the city is centered on the ghats that line the waterfront, each honoring Shiva in the form of a linga - the rounded phallic-like shaft of stone found on every ghat. Cruise the waterfront at dawn and you will witness the most surreal scenes, when devotees come to bathe, meditate, and perform ancient rituals to greet the sun. Or even come at sunset, when pundits (priests) at Dasashwamedh Ghat perform arti (prayer ritual) with complicated fire rituals, and pilgrims light candles to float along the sacred waters.

PLACES OF INTEREST
River Front - Varanasi River Front
Varanasi lies along the sacred Ganges River and has a 4 km long river front with hordes of devotees performing rituals at all times of the day. The Ghats look the best at dawn and boats can also be hired at reasonable rates from the 'Dashashwamedha' ghat.
Alamgir Mosque - VaranasiAlamgir Mosque
Popularly known as Beni Madhav Ka Darera, this mosque is a blend of Hindu and Mughal styles of architecture. It was built by Aurangzeb on the site of the Vishnu Temple and overlooks the Panchganga Ghat.
Durga Temple - Varanasi Durga Temple
About 2 km south of Varanasi, this 18th century Durga Temple is also called the Monkey Temple due to aggressive monkeys that reside here. It has been built in a common north Indian style with an ornate shikhara, with five segments symbolizing the elements, supported by finely carved columns. Durga represented as shakti or female power is clad in red, riding a tiger and fully armed with a sword, Shiva's trident and Vishnu's discus. A forked stake in the courtyard was used in the past during festivals to sacrifel goats. Non-Hindus are allowed to the courtyard but not into the inner sanctum.
Vishwanath Temple - Varanasi Vishwanath Temple
Located within the premises of the Banaras Hindu University this temple built by the Birlas was planned by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. This temple is open to all people irrespective of caste or creed.
Tulsi Manas Temple - Varanasi Tulsi Manas Temple
Erected in 1964, this temple lies about 150 m south of this Durga Temple. It is dedicated to Lord Rama and is situated where Tulsidas, the great medieval saint, is believed to have written the great epic, Shri Ramcharitmanas. The two-tier walls are engraved with verses and scenes from this epic.
Banaras Hindu University - Banaras Banaras Hindu University
One of the oldest educational centres of India, this university was was founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya in 1917 for the study of Sanskrit, Indian art, culture and music. The university campus extends over five square kms and contains the Bharat Kala Bhavan. The Bhavan has a beautiful collection of miniature paintings, sculptures dating from the first to the fifteenth centuries along with old photographs of Varanasi and brocade textiles. The campus premises also houses the New Vishwanatha Temple.
Museum - Varanasi Museum
Located in Sarnath about 10 km from Varanasi, the Archaeological Museum houses a part of the Ashokan pillar. It also has figures and sculptures ranging from the Mauryan, Kushana and Gupta periods excavated at Sarnath dating from the 9th to 12th centuries.

General Information

By Air : Varanasi (21 km) airport has domestic as well as international terminals.
By Rail : Varanasi (1 km), Mughal Sarai (15 km)
By Road : Lucknow (320 km), Lumbini (440 km), Bodhgaya (243 km), Khajuraho (421 km)
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