Uplifting Journeys

Varanasi, with its many temples, mighty river Ganga and myriad other attractions, is a haven for pilgrims that can fill the hearts of other holidaymakers, too, with happiness

9/2/2017 6:23:43 PM
written By : Nithya Subramanian Print

Varanasi – a spiritual city - is all that India stands for. If one were looking for moksha or salvation, this would be the place to visit. Both symbolically and literally, you can experience India here. 

The mighty Ganga, the most sacred river for the Hindus, is known to be the calmest here, descending from the Himalayas. And on its banks is Varanasi or Benaras or Kashi. Legend has it that this city was founded by Lord Shiva and was his favourite abode. He called Kashi his “royal palace.”

Benaras is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with settlements dating back to the 11th century. Mark Twain described it as ‘older than history, older than tradition.’ While it has always been an important pilgrimage centre, an atheist too will have much to see and experience.

There are about 84 ghats on the banks of the river Ganga with Manikarnika and Panchganga being the most popular. While some of these ghats may be known as burning ghats, the mere sight of the Ganga during sunrise is a sight to behold. You start your day by taking in this majestic view. Each day thousands of pilgrims visit these banks to take a holy dip and wash away their sins.

There are temples at every turn of the city. So you can start by visiting the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, one of the oldest Shiva temples. The temple has witnessed the vagaries of many rulers and so it has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times in history. The last structure was demolished by Aurangzeb, who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque. The current structure was built on an adjacent site by the Maratha ruler, Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore, in 1780. Two domes of the temple are covered with gold donated by the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh, but the third dome remained uncovered. Later, the UP Government took a keen interest in the gold plating of the third dome of the temple.

You can also take a tour of the Tulsi Manas Temple, where Saint Tulsidas wrote the Ramayana, or the Durga temple, where it is believed that the idol of the goddess appeared on its own.

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