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Varanasi

TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City
Mark Twain, the famous English author and humorist had this to say about Varanasi—“Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” The seat of Indian mythology and tradition, Indian classical music, dance, art and crafts, and the place where Buddhism developed, Varanasi, Benaras or Kashi (as known in olden times) enchants you with its vivid colours, soul-stirring mantras, fragrances of incense, and the countless temples (approximately 23,000) at every nook and corner. Steeped in ancient traditions and legends, this holy city, considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva himself, holds great significance and prominence for the Hindus. Holiest among the seven sacred cities of the country and located on the banks of the majestic Ganga, Varanasi is also home to one the continent’s largest residential universities, Banaras Hindu University. Explore this mystical holy city, not only famous for its temples and shrines, but also its Banaras Silk Sarees, delicious delicacies and ‘paan’. Soak in the sights, sounds and smells of one of the oldest cities in the world, which has been a symbol of spiritualism and philosophy for over 3,000 years.
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TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City Boat ride on the Ganges

Boat ride on the Ganges

Haggle wisely and book a morning boat ride along the Ganges a day prior to when you wish to go. As you glide pass the different sections of the Ghats you will witness Sadhus (sages) and pilgrims bathing in the water and praying to the rising sun. As you near the Ghats of Harishchandra or the Manikarnika, you will witness Hindu death ceremony rituals being performed. This 45-min to one hour journey is sure to leave an impact on your soul owing to the history, traditions and culture of the place.

Image Courtesy: Aleksandar Todorovic / Shutterstock.com
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TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City Ganga Aarti

Ganga Aarti

A daily event that has caught the fancy of millions of pilgrims and tourists over the years is the evening Ganga Aarti (prayers) ceremony. Reach early to get a perfect spot to experience the grandeur of this evening ritual performed at the Dasashwamedh Ghat. The ceremony begins daily at 6.45 pm with unanimous chants and a series of prayers sung aloud by the group of priests, and is complemented with rhythmic claps by the devotees. The whole atmosphere gets soaked in the aroma emanating from incense sticks, camphor and oil lamps. For a panoramic view of this awe-inspiring ritual we suggest you take an evening boat ride.

Image Courtesy: Aleksandar Todorovic / Shutterstock.com
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TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City Varanasi Ghats

Varanasi Ghats

The Ghats along the river bank of Ganges are the main feature of this spiritually and culturally rich city. Varanasi is home to close to 100 Ghats flanked along the river banks with steps descending towards the holy water. The Ghats are spread out along the three sections namely the southern, northern and the Old City. Most famous amongst the Ghats are the Dashashwamedh, Manikarnika, Assi, and Harishchandra. Several Ghats were built during the reign of the Marathas, some named after famous personalities, rulers and more. Indulge in some soul searching as you stroll and explore the Varanasi Ghats.

Image Courtesy: Alexander Mazurkevich / Shutterstock.com
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TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The most venerated temple here is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, also known as the Golden Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple was built in 1780 on the order of Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore. Many pilgrims flock to the city of Varanasi just to visit the temple as it is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas (images of Lord Shiva). The temple derives its synonym of ‘Golden Temple’ owing to its marvellous domes adorned with gold, which was donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The temple is well-guarded and is usually teeming with rows of devotees waiting to get glimpse of the lingam (Lord Shiva shrine).

Image Courtesy: www.ghumakkar.com
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TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City Walking Tour

Walking Tour

Keen to know more and wish to experience the city beyond its Ghats and temples, book a walking tour to explore further. Choose from a variety of themed tours covering different areas of the oldest city on earth. Get insight on the cultural diversity, scout through the oldest areas of the city or explore the colourful markets and mingle with locals over a cup of tea. Get a taste of local cuisine and observe the lives of the locals. Several tour operators here employ certified guides who are locals and able to converse in English.

Image Courtesy: Radiokafka / Shutterstock.com
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TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City Trip to Sarnath

Trip to Sarnath

Visit the world renowned Buddhist site of Sarnath located about 10 km northeast of Varanasi. During the 3rd century BC, Emperor Ashoka erected several Stupas and monasteries, which were destroyed by Muslim invaders in the 12th century. This sacred site was discovered by British archaeologists many years later. Explore the complex where Buddha delivered his first sermons ’Dhammachakkapavattana’ to his disciples at a spot, which was formerly a deer park. It is one of the four holy sites along with Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, and Kushinagar on Buddhist pilgrims’ circuit. Visit the Dharmekh Stupa, temples and monasteries built by several Asian communities and the Sarnath Museum, which houses the Ashoka Pillar.

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TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City New Vishwanath Temple

New Vishwanath Temple

Popularly known as Birla Temple, New Vishwanath Temple is one of the main sites here. This beautiful marble temple, a replica of the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple was completed in 1965. It was planned by Pt Madan Mohan Malaviya who is the founder of Banaras Hindu University, while the construction work was financed by the Birla family, renowned industrialists of India. The main feature of the temple is the ‘shikara’ (temple tower), which is even taller than the Qutub Minar. Devoted to Lord Shiva, Hindu scriptures are inscribed on the temple’s walls inside. Attend the ‘Aarti’ conducted on a daily basis and offer your prayers to the Lord.

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TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City Ramnagar Fort and Museum

Ramnagar Fort and Museum

Revel in the glorious era of the Maharajas of Banaras at the Ramnagar Fort and Museum. This heritage residence was built by Kashi Naresh Balwant Singh in 1750. Ramnagar Fort can be reached via waterways as it is nestled on the eastern banks of the Ganges and lies opposite the Tulsi Ghat. The fort boasts of red stone walls, artistically carved balconies, opulent Durbar Halls and courtyards. Apart from its architectural grandeur, this fort is known for the shrine of Ved Vyas and there’s a museum exhibiting royal treasures such as vintage cars, traditional costumes, royal palkhis (palanquins), an interesting astrological clock, and much more. It also houses an armoury section.

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TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City Varanasi Temples

Varanasi Temples

Apart from the most revered temple of Kashi Vishwanath Temple, you will come across approximately 2,000 more temples while visiting this holy city. Pay a visit to some of the popular temples here frequented by devotees and tourists alike such as the Kedareshwar Temple on the Kedar Ghat, the Sri Durga Temple, also known as the Monkey Temple, famous for its Nagara style, the Nepali Temple built by King of Nepal on the Lalita Ghat known for its marvellous woodwork, and the temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the Sankatmochan Temple near Assi stream. Other temples you can explore are the Tulsi Manas Temple, Shitala Devi Temple, Tridev Mandir, and more.

Image Courtesy: Elena Mirage / Shutterstock.com
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TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City Retail Therapy

Retail Therapy

Though a holy city, Varanasi has a lot to offer to hardened shoppers as well. Banarasi silk sarees, known for their impressive patterns, colours and intricate thread work are popular not only in India, but across the world. Bookworms will be thrilled to browse through a plethora of shops stacking books on Indian literature. Whether you play a musical instrument or not, it is simply delightful to walk along the market with shops full of Indian musical instruments such as the ‘sitar’, ‘tabla’, ‘shenai’, and others. Famous for its handicraft and religious paraphernalia, stroll through popular market places such as the City Chowk, Gowdowlia street, Thatheri Bazaar, Temple bazaar, etc.

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TraveLibro India Varanasi Featured City Street Food of Varanasi

Street Food of Varanasi

Tickle your taste buds with a variety of street side food and snacks at the local stalls of Varanasi. Most famous amongst the locals and tourists here are the two varieties of mangoes found during summer and the famous ‘paan’ (flavourful mouth freshener) made from beetle leaf. Besides this, try savouries such as the ‘Kachori Sabji’, ‘Tamatar Chaat’, ‘Litti-Chokha’ (baked wheat balls), ‘Mirchi Pakodas’, ‘Aaloo Tikki’, ‘Samosas’, and enjoy the burst of diverse flavours. Sweet lovers can binge on the hot crispy ‘Jalebis’, ‘Laong-Lata’, ‘Bun Malai’, ‘Boondi’, ‘Malaiyyo’ and other varieties of sweets. Try the popular hot and cold beverages—‘Kullhad ki Chai’ (tea), sweet ‘Lassi’ and the cool ‘Thandai’.

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HOTELS

“Nothing speaks like experience.”

A list of hotels we recommend, coming up soon.

RESTAURANTS

“One has not truly experienced a place,

until he has dug into a plate of their food!”

We will soon have a taste of the land and it’s food. And of course we will serve up a list of the Restaurants you must hit while in Varanasi.


If you have visited the city or in fact live there, do fill us in with your recommendations.


TRAVEL AGENTS

Oops! We have no registered agents from Varanasi.


We will update this space with trusted agents very soon.


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