Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
Benaras, also known as Varanasi or Kashi, is a city of great spiritual and cultural significance in India. It is one of the oldest living cities in the world and one of the seven holy cities of Hinduism. Benaras is situated on the banks of the holy Ganges River, which is believed to have the power to wash away sins and grant salvation. Benaras is a city of temples, ghats, rituals, art, and history.
Here are some of the best places to visit in Benaras:
1. Kashi Vishwanath Temple: This is the most famous and revered temple in Benaras, dedicated to Lord Shiva, the lord of universe. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, or manifestations of Shiva, in India. The temple has a golden spire that shines brightly in the sun. The temple is also known for its elaborate cravings and sculptures. The temple is located on the western bank of the Ganges and attract millions of devotees every year.
2. Dashashwamedh Ghat: This is the main most lively ghat in Benaras, where pilgrims gather to take a dip in the sacred river and perform rituals. The ghat is also famous for its evening Ganga Aarti, a spectacular ceremony of lights, music, and chants that honors river goddess. The ghat is a great place to witness the culture and spirituality of Benaras.
3. Sarnath: This is a historical site located about 10 km from Benaras, where Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. Sarnath is one of the four holy sites of Buddhism and has several monuments and relics related to Buddha’s life and teachings. Some of the attractions in Sarnath are the Dhamek Stupa, The Ashoka Pillar, the Mulagandha Kuti Vihar, and the Sarnath Museum.
4. Manikarnika Ghat: This is the most sacred and oldest ghat in Benaras, where Hindus cremate their dead and offer their ashes to the Ganges. It is believed that dying or being cremated here will liberate one from the cycle of rebirth. The ghat is also known as the burning ghat, as it has a constant fire that never goes out. The ghat is a place of both death and life, where one can witness the reality and mystery of existence.
5. Banaras Hindi University: This is one of the largest and oldest universities in India, founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya in 1916. The university has a sprawling campus that covers an area of 1300 acres and has several faculties, institutes, museums, and libraries. The university is also known for its cultural and academic events, such as festivals, seminars, and exhibitions.
6. Assi Ghat: Assi Ghat is one of the oldest and most important ghats in Varanasi. It is located at the confluence of the Assi river and the Ganges river, which the city its name. Assi Ghat is a place of great religious and cultural significance, as it is associated with many legends and events. If you ever visit Varanasi, you should definitely visit Assi Ghat and witness its charm, and splendor.
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