True story of the holy city Varanasi
Last May I visited Varanasi for several weeks. The 1st day I immediately wanted to leave because of the smell, the trash on the streets and the temperature. Somehow, I stayed longer than expected and I would like to share why.
This holy city is one of a kind. It brought me back 200 years in time. Where a shop is ‘knowing’ to which person you have to go for buying mobile credit, the standards and values they live with. Thanks to an amazing tour guide I could see behind the windows of the daily life the magic of this place.
He guided me to the holy ceremony in the Ganges, I really wanted to do. He brought me to the Golden temple, where normally only Hindu people can enter. He spent his evenings with us at the riverside telling stories about his life, the tourist industry, the commerce of spiritualism and how ‘holy’ people take advantage of the tourist. He gave us his honesty and clarity and by that the amazing gift of truly knowing Varanasi as it is.
He teached us about the respect for food, mother Ganges (the river), Shiva and offered his friendship. If anyone is interested in experiencing Varanasi instead of seeing it, than ask Rahul Cristoforo to guide you during these days. He is too polite to aks money. So check the website and see the prices.. Enjoy your stay!
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Religious Travel
Visit the Kashi Vishwanatha Temple
This is the main deity of the city of Varanasi. It is considered as one of the most sacred temples for the Hindus. Notwithstanding this great stature, the temple is maintained in the most deplorable fashion, The cleanliness is almost non existent and the devotees are jostled in a very rough manner.
Will write more about this at a later date.
Remember that cell phones, cameras, electronic goods are not allowed inside. You would do well to leave your footwear in your hotel or car.
You will find plenty of vendors selling garlands, milk and coconuts and other offerings outside the temple. You can buy from them while standing in the queue.
- Religious Travel
Visit Sankat Mochan Temple
This is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. It is very peaceful and simple. In the evenings they have bhajans and singing. An ideal place to sit in meditation and contemplation in this place. However on Thursdays and Saturdays, it is more crowded.
- Religious Travel
Sankat mochan temple
Sankat Mochan Temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and is very popular with the local citizens. It is a place for many yearly religious as well as cultural festivals. The word "Sankat Mochan" means one who helps in removing sufferings.Every Tuesday and Saturday, thousands of devotees queue up in front of the Sankat Mochan temple to offer prayers to Lord Hanuman. According to Vedic Astrology, Hanuman protects human beings from the anger of planet Saturn and those who have ill placed Saturn in their horoscope visit the Sankat Mochan temple to get remedy.
This ancient temple was constructed in the 18th century. This ancient temple has been constructed in the North Indian Nagara architectural style. This ancient temple is located at a distance of 4 kilometers from Godaulia in Varanasi, India.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The Kashi-Vishwanath Temple is also known as the Golden Temple and is a popular religious tourist destination. This temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Vishveswara Shiva. The original temple is said to have been destroyed by the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb who constructed a mosque on this site. Ahalya Bai constructed the existing temple in the year 1776.
Chausathi ghat/ahalya bai ghat
At the place of an old site of Kevelyagiri Ghat, in c. 1778 queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore made this a pucca ghat. For the first time name of a person was added after the ghat. She was also responsible for re-building the Visvesvara temle, as exists at present, in 1777.
Causatti ghat-info from varanasi nic
This ghat is described in respect to yogini Tirtha and Agatsya Tirtha.The number 64 (Causatha) is attributed to directional symbolism and also association between mother-goddesses and their assistant- goddesses, of course there are other interpretations too. This ghat had privilege to provide shelter to a great Sanskrit scholar, Madhusudana Sarsvati (c.e.1540-1623). Above the ghat there is temple of causatthi Devi, but only 60 images of yogonis are there, the rest four are at different places. In c. 1670 King of Udaipur (Rajasthan) renovated this ghat, and jater it became pucca On 12th dark-half of caitra (March-April) many pilgrims pay visit to the yogini temple and take ritual bath at this ghat.
Assi Ghat an important ghat of Varanasi traditionally constitutes the southern end of conventional city. Numerous References about this ghat are found in early literature Particulalry in matsypurana, again purana, kurma purana, padma purana and kashi khanda. According to a belief goddess Durga after slaining demon Shumbha- Nishumbha had thrown her sword. The place, where sword (Khadga) had fallen resulted in flowing of big stream known as asi river.the confluence of river ganga and asi is known as assi ghat.In Kashi Khand it is referred as Asi "Saimbeda Tirtha" one gets punaya of all the Tirthas ( religious places) by taking a dip here.
In c. 1805 this ghat was built in honour of a famous wrestler who established a wresting site (Akhara) there: his name was Babua Pande. The shrine of Somesvara exists closeby to it. In its vicinity lies the old site of Prabhasa Tirtha, but presently it is spatially transposed at Raja Ghat.
Manikarnika ghat is the main cremation ghat of Varanasi and is one of the oldest and most sacred.Both the ghats are cremation ghat.accorning to mythology being burned here provides instant liberation.Manikarnika ghat symbolises creation and destruction.There is a sacred well at the Manikarnika Ghat, called the Manikarnika Kund.
below as per wekipedia-
Two legends are associated with Manikarnika Ghat: According to one, it is believed to be the place where Lord Vishnu dug a pit with his Chakra and filled it with his perspiration while performing various penances. While Lord Shiva was watching Lord Vishnu at that time, the latter's earring ("manikarnika") fell into the pit. According to the second legend, in order to keep Lord Shiva from moving around with his devotees, his consort Goddess Parvati hid her earrings, and asked him to find them, saying that they had been lost on the banks of Ganga. Goddess Parvati's idea behind the fib was that Lord Shiva would then stay around, searching forever for the lost earrings. In this legend, whenever a body gets cremated at the Manikarnik Ghat, Lord Shiva asks the soul whether it has seen the earrings.
according to varanasi nic -
Two ancient sacred waterfront sites make this ghat, viz Sidha Vinayaka and Swargadvaresvara. Among the is popularly called as " the great cremation ground" (Mahasmasana). In the vicinity are shrines of Manikarnikesvara (a little far in the upper side of the lane), Mahesvara (open air lingam at the ghat) and Siddha and Manikarna Vinayakas. The temple of Manikarnikesvara is the approachable from the ghat by taking a steepy ascending lane south of the Kunda.
There also exists a sacred pond, Cakra- Puskarini Kunda ("Discus Lotus- Pool") and Visnu’s feet impression Carana Paduka. According to puranic myth long before the Ganga arrived at the heels of Bhagiratha, the Cakra-Puskarini Kunda was present. Says the KKh(60.137-138) . For the benefit of the three world king Bhagiratha brought the Ganga to the place where Manikarnika is –to Shiva’s Forest of Bliss ("Annandavana"), to Visnu’s Lotus Pool (Chakra-Puskarni Kunda). Presently the Kunda surrounded by a cast-iron railing , is some (60 ft) at the top, narrowing to about (20ft) it) at the water’s edge (Eck 1982: 239). Visnu and Laksmi images are located in the small shrine inside the Kunda on the western wall; while a series of dozen small niches containing Siva lingams also exit there. Along the sacred route, on the ghat itself, are the symbolically footprints of Visnu (Carana Paduka), set in a circular marble slab. For 7,000 years Visnu was said to have performed tapas on this spot, and through the centuries millions of Hindus have sprinkled it with the holy Ganga water and adorned it with flowers. A plate from Prinsep’s which the subtitle calls "The holiest spot in the sacred City".
Towering over Manikarnika ghat, there is a Siva –Durga temple of Raja of Amethy (Oudh; now Uttar Pradesh), built in c. 1850 which is distinct with its five deep- red spires and gilded pinnacles.
Man mandir ghat/prayag ghat
This ghat (old Prayaga Tirtha) together with shrine of Prayagagesvara replicates the existence of Prayaga/ Allahabad in Varanasi. Prayaga, known as "Tirtharaja" (king of Tirthas), lies at the confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the invisible Sarasvati rivers. It is commonly believed that doing rituals and taking sacred bath here provide exactly the same religious merit as those at Prayaga (80 km away in the west).
Man mandir Ghat-The old name of this ghat was Somesvara, but in c.e. 1585 when Raja Savai Mana Singh (of Amber) made his palace and ghat this is named after him. This ghat is "known primarily for the magnificent building with exquisite, ornately carved window carvings"
Lalita ghat is next to makikarnika ghat.This ghat also offers aarati ,however there will be less people and less pompous...there is a nepali temple above it.
The late King of Nepal built Lalita Ghat in the northern region of Varanasi. It is the site of Ganga Keshav Temple, a wooden temple built in typical Kathmandu style, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple also has an image of Pashupateshwar, a manifestation of Lord Shiva.
Harish Chandra Ghat is name after a mythological King Harish Chandra, who once worked at the cremation ground here for the perseverance of truth and charity. It is believed that the Gods rewarded him for his resolve, charity and truthfulness and restored his lost throne and his dead son to him. Harish Chandra Ghat is one of the two cremation Ghats (the other being Manikarnika Ghat) and is some times referred as Adi Manikarnika (the original creation ground). Hindus from distant places bring the dead bodies of their near and dear ones to the Harish Chandra Ghat for cremation.
Ghats-Dashashwamedha the main ghat
Dasaswamedh ghat is the most important and the holiest of all ghats.The city haf various types of ghats.Dasaswamedh literally means ghat of ten sacrificed horses.Accorning to legend Lord brahma sacrificed ten horses to bring back lord Shiva from banishment.The ghat is the busiest with devotees wanting to have bath at this very place.The aarati ceremony happens every evening with pomp and show and the devotees crowd around this ghat to have a glimse of aarati offered to ganga ma.
boat ride -sunrise and sunset
The sun rise and sunset is one of the attractions in Varanasi.I went for boat ride on both occasion however the pics are of sunset.I could not capture sunrise due to fog both days..Just enjoy the sun go down or rise from the boats.Boats are avaliable in plenty have to bargain I got it for 60 rupee for an hour.Arrange for the boat a day earlier for morning or as in my case I had arranged and the fellow did not arrive.i waited like a good customer finally i went with another as he was not to be seen.