Varanasi is known as one of the oldest inhabited cities in the whole world. Many historians and experts believe that it is as old as five thousand years and some claim that it is even older. However, since ancient times only, the charm and beauty of Varanasi have been an unmatched spectacle.
Even today, if you want to witness something sacred and soulful then you should head to Varanasi. The vibe of the city, as a symbol of spirituality, is such, that those who want to attain nirvana in this life, have an intense desire to die here. For this, people stay here at Mukti Bhavans on rent. For the unversed, Mukti Bhavans are the places where aged people stay in their last days of sojourn on Earth.
Thus, many also call Varanasi, the Spiritual Capital of India. The magic about Varanasi lies in its ancient architecture and its association with Vedanta. It is believed that Lord Shiva himself had once walked upon this very land and founded the city of Kashi, i.e. Varanasi.
If you are a spiritual seeker or want to know all about Hinduism, then a trip to Varanasi can do wonders in your life. Here, a person gets the opportunity to explore the ancient temples, bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges and do everything that might help a person in their Sadhana.
Many believe that a dip into the Ganges can purify a human being from within. Such is the grace of Goddess Ganga that it washes away all the since of the devotees.
Best Time to Visit Varanasi
The best time to visit Varanasi is during the winter. Since the temperature is quite low, one can enjoy the serenity of the place even more. During the summertime, the weather is very hot and dry thus, it won’t be suitable for tourists to visit Varanasi during this time.
Monsoon season is certainly very pleasant and sees moderate to heavy rains.
History of Varanasi
It won't be wrong to say that the city of Varanasi is all about history. Following are the most important part of the same.
The city of Varanasi is immensely significant. Time and again Varanasi has been mentioned in various mythological stories. One such interesting anecdote about this city states a fight between Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva.
Once it happened that a furious fight ensued between Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva for some unknown reason. In between the fight, Lord Shiva chopped off one of the heads of Lord Brahma, thus vanquishing him.
As per a custom, the winner in the fight, that was Lord Shiva, in this case, got to carry the head of his opponent in his bare hands. However, when Lord Shiva was returning to Varanasi with his victory procession, the head dropped from his hands, disappearing into eternity. Because the head dropped in Varanasi, the city has been considered an extremely holy site by the devotees.
Varanasi is considered to be one of the seven holy cities (the sapta puri) where one can go to attain Nirvana aka Mukti from the cycle of birth and death. The other six holy cities are Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kanchi, Avanti, and Dwarka. It is believed that after defeating the Kauravas, even the Pandavas also visited the city, seeking Lord Shiva.
Connections with Ancient History
1. Trade - From the historical point of view, the city of Varanasi has always been popular for its high-quality silk and muslin fabrics along with perfumes, ivory, and sculpture.
2. Lord Buddha - It is believed that after attaining his enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, Lord Buddha had founded Buddhism religion at Varanasi. He even gave his first sermon about the Wheel of Dharma near Sarnath.
3. Xuanzang - It is believed that the famous Chinese traveler Xuanzang, also referred to as Hiuen Tsiang, visited Varanasi in 635 CE and found it to be a place of amazing religious intensity.
Major Attractions of Varanasi
1. Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Kashi Vishwanath temple is situated on the western banks of Ganga and is known among the most famous temples in Varanasi devoted to Lord Shiva. Built in the center of Varanasi, this temple has many religious beliefs associated with it and is a significant spiritual spot for Hindu devotees.
2. Dashashwamedh Ghat
Dashashwamedh Ghat's history describes that Lord Brahma performed the Dashashwamedh sacrifice here. Ever since it has become one of the most religious destinations among Hindus. The highlight of this ghat is the magnificent Ganga Aarti performed here during the evenings.
3. Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
As the name suggests, the Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the one who relieves his devotees from all kinds of troubles. It is believed to have been established by Saint Sri Goswami Tulsidas in the first half of the 16th century. Located on the banks of the Assi River, this temple witnesses flocks of tourists and devotees on a daily basis.
4. Assi Ghat
The Assi Ghat is sited at the bank of two rivers Assi and Ganga. Here, one can worship the large Shiva Lingam as well that is placed under a peepal tree. It has enormous spiritual significance and is even described in the Puranas and many mythological legends.
5. Boat Ride in Ganges River
To do something different in a place like Varanasi, your best option would be to take a boat ride during the evening. Watching the sunset while being on the serene waters of the holy river would definitely make up for an unforgettable experience for you.
6. Take Bath in the Ganges
If you are in Varanasi, this is something you ought to do. Taking a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges is considered to wash out all your sins and purify you from within.
How to Reach Varanasi
For one and all, the city of Varanasi is the best place to visit in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi is located at an approximate distance of 850, 1,830, 1,400, 700 km from Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Kolkata respectively. Here is how you can reach Varanasi by the following means of public transportation.
To visit Varanasi, you can choose to travel via flight depending upon your convenience and your location. If you choose to travel by air, then you will need to deboard at Varanasi Airport aka Lal Bhadur Shastri Airport situated 26 km northwest of Varanasi. The airport has good overall connectivity with other Indian cities and in terms of passenger movement, this aerodrome is considered to be the 20th busiest airport in India. So, once you deboard at the airport, consider taking a cab to reach your respective destination.
Here is a list of Indian cities from where flights are available to Varanasi
If you are traveling via train, then you will have to deboard at the Varanasi Railway Station aka Banaras Junction (BSB), and then further take a cab or a bus to reach your destination. The station has good connectivity with other nearby states and cities.
You can also consider traveling to Varanasi by road via motorable roadways and national highways. Really, traveling to this spiritual city by road is quite a pure experience in itself. Varanasi has been well-connected by interstate buses from other regions. You can also consider booking a private bus as per your convenience to travel here. Otherwise, if you want to travel at your own pace, then hiring a cab or self-drive are always the best options to take into account.
From Agra - 643 km via Agra-Lucknow Expressway
From Kanpur - 331 km via NH19
From Patna - 256 km via NH31
Frequently Asked Questions about Varanasi
Q. Where is Varanasi located?
A. Varanasi is a city located in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Q. What are the main tourist attractions in Varanasi?
A. The main tourist attractions in Varanasi include the Ghats, such as Dashashwamedh Ghat and Manikarnika Ghat, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the Sankat Mochan Temple, the Durga Temple, and the Bharat Mata Temple.