16 May 2014

Varanasi: One of the Seven Sacred Cities in India

The philosophy of moksha or salvation is at the core of Hindu belief, and India’s millions of Hindu believers come to Varanasi to attain salvation from the cycle of reincarnation. The holy Ganga is also where hundreds, if not thousands, of people come for the last rites of their deceased kin.

Varanasi to attain salvation  (Photo Courtesy: http://indifest.in)
The city of Varanasi, according to the Garuda Purana, a sacred text, is one of the seven holy cities in India. The others are Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Ujjain, Kanchipuram, and Dwarka. Varanasi is also called Kashi by many, and is considered one of the oldest cities still throbbing with life, much like Rome is.

The temples

You may or may not come here for reasons of faith, but a visit to Varanasi is well worth the trip. There is history and a sense of energy wherever you turn, but you could start with the famed Kashi Vishwanath temple. It is one of the most scared of Shiva temples in the country and was renovated in the 18th century. Then, there is the Benaras (another name for Varanasi) Hindu University, the largest one of its kind in the whole of Asia, a residential university.

Kashi Vishwanath temple (Photo Courtesy: http://ww.itimes.com)
There are temples everywhere you turn, from the Durga Temple, built in the 18th century to the Bharat Mata Temple, the Tulsi Mata Temple and the New Vishwanath Temple. There is the 17th century Ramnagar Fort and museum too, if you love history.

The Ghats

No visit to Varanasi is complete without a visit to the Ghats, the subject of some of the most well-shot and framed photographs in the world. The town is best understood by these ghats with long flights of steps leading to the banks of the holy Ganga. There are bathing ghats, but also burning ghats, where the dead are burnt. Some of the famous ghats are Dasashvamedha Ghat, Kedar Ghat, Assi Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Panchaganga Ghat and Barnasangam Ghat among others.

Dasashvamedha Ghat (Photo Courtesy: http://goindia.about.com)
Kedar Ghat  (Photo Courtesy: http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com)
Assi Ghat  (Photo Courtesy: http://www.indiamike.com)
You feel the presence of a hard-to-describe unknown power when you are by the Ganga, and the town takes you back hundreds of years in time. It is almost like time travel; there is a cosmic pull, a deep attraction about Varanasi. A boat ride along the Ganga is all the more alluring. So, if you want to feel the magnetism of the town, book your tickets on one of the Varanasi flights and just taking a walking tour of the town.

Boat ride along the Ganga  (Photo Courtesy: http://www.ictrip.ru)
If you plan to visit the town on the day of Karthik Poornima, when the Ganga Mahotsav is held, you will catch the sight of the Ganga being worshipped by way of aarti; thousands of people leave afloat lamps into the river. A sight to watch, indeed.

Ganga Mahotsav (Photo Courtesy: http://www.kumbhmelatours.com)
Book your tickets on one of the flights to Varanasi in November-December after ascertaining the date of this fest (dates vary from year to year). Accommodation is not a problem in Varanasi considering the huge tourist influx.


  1. Varanasi is the heart of Northern India. Its beauty is admired by tourists around the world. I have been to Varanasi couple of times, it has always been a wonderful experience. I enjoyed reading this post thank you for sharing the beauty of Varanasi to the rest of the world.

  2. varanasi is very best city in india. we can say its spiritual capital of India.

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  3. The rich history that surrounds the sacred lands of Varanasi is one of the many reasons why people visit the city. Once you arrive in the city, you will be overwhelmed by witnessing how this city has retained its rustic charm of the bygone era, being surrounded by all the influences of modernity.Check out Some of the best golden triangle tour with varanasi at Rajsthanleafes