Varanasi-The City Where Time Stands
- by MFT
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Varanasi, the holiest haven of Hinduism, is a wonder city that speaks a very ancient culture older than what we think. The mythological tales of Hinduism credit Shiva, the god of dance and destruction, and his consort Parvati, the goddess of power and aesthetics, as the creators of Varanasi. Located on the middle Ganges valley, this Indian city is considered an important centre of learning and culture for more than two thousand years. Besides being an important seat of Hindu traditions, it is also connected to the history of Buddhism. Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon in Sarnath, a place situated on the northern side of Varanasi.
Also known as Banaras and Kashi, Varanasi is unanimously believed the spiritual capital of India. Every year millions of travellers gather here to take a dip in the Ganges, to meditate near the river, and to offer prayer at the holiest shrines. Famous for its centuries-old temples, ghats (steps leading down to the river), Ganga Aarti, classical music, and fabulous street food, a short stay in Varanasi brings one closer to a mystic quality of life. The seekers of spiritually strongly believe that they obtain what they want in this place. The name, Kashi in Sanskrit means `city of light` or `shining city` which expresses the nature of the city`s vibrancy.
A trip to Varanasi
It is said that those, who spend at least 3 days in Varanasi, fall in love with the city. On a first impression, the place offers a kaleidoscope of colours. There are many things that a traveller can experience and explore. Taking a boat ride in the Ganges and looking at the fascinating sites of ancient Ghats is just one of the options. The following list provides the top-visited temples in the city.
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple
- Annapurna Devi Temple
- Laxmi Narayan Temple
- Ratneshwar Temple
- Durga Temple
- Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
- Bharat Mata Temple
Street food in Varanasi
Varanasi presents a gastronomical delight for foodies. Like other Hindu religious sites, the city`s restaurants mostly serve vegetarian dishes, and those are just fabulous. Chaats of Varanasi are pretty popular, but other mouth-watering items, like Kachori, Jalebi, Lassi, Rabri and Banarasi Paan (betel leaf) are available here and there in almost all kiosks.
Must-to-do activities in Varanasi
Boat ride on the Ganges: Experiencing the sunrise and sunset sitting in a boat on the Ganges is an unforgettable experience in Varanasi. It depicts the beauty, wonder, and power of the holy river and its deep influence on the Hindu religious life. There are two types of boats-the motorized one and the hand-rowed one. Any one of them can be booked as per choice and budget.
Attending the Ganga Aarti: The holy river, who is considered a goddess, is worshipped with lighted lamps every morning evening in the ghats of Varanasi. Dashashwamedh Ghat near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the premiere location for Aarti though there are other ghats where daily prayer with lamps is performed. One is mesmerized with the sight of priests in Aarti performance and the amount of devotion involved in it.
- Don`t take pictures of cremation in the ghats. This hurts feeling of the relatives of the deceased.
- Don`t hire a tourist guide without seeing his official license and number.
- Don`t consume any mind-altering drug even if you are insisted.
- Don`t walk around the streets with cash and jewellery.
- Don`t laugh at the religious rituals which are performed.
Things not to do in Varanasi
Varanasi can offer far more than what you can expect in a tourist place. A soulful traveller can get the vibes of Varanasi while roaming around its ghats, wide streets as well as narrow lanes near the temples. From exploring the ancient courtyards of temples to visiting the glittery shopping stands, the city exhibits a unique tapestry of spirituality, history and culture. Immersing oneself in the flow of Varanasi is the best way to experience this marvellous place. In every corner of the city, one can find wonders and a mystic atmosphere. This creates a permanent memory in the mind`s diary of a traveller.
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