India - Varanasi City Information

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Varanasi City Information

Varanasi or Kashi is the India's most sacred city situated on the West bank of the Ganga. It is also known as Benaras. 

The name Varanasi is derived from two streams; the Varuna and the Assi. The word ‘Kashi’ originated from the word ‘Kas’ which means to shine. Varanasi is the microcosm of Hinduism and a city of traditional classical culture, glorified by myth and legend.

It is said to combine all the virtues of all other places of pilgrimage and anyone dying within the area marked by the Panch Kosi road is said to go to heaven.

It is also an important pilgrimage centre for Buddhists as it was at Sarnath, Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightment.

Places of Interest:

Ghats - There are about 100 bathing ghats that skirt the west bank of the Ganges. Most of them are used for bathing and some are used for cremating bodies.

Some important ghats are given below.
Assi
Dasashwamedh Ghat
Manikarnika
Panchganga
Adikeshva ghat
Tulsi Ghat
Bachra Ghat
Dandi Ghat
Hanuman Ghat
Dashashvamedh Ghat
Man Mandir Ghat
Dattatreya Ghat
Ram Ghat
Trilochan Ghat
Hirishchandra ghat

Sarnath - It is in this place, the Buddha preached his message "Maha-Dharma-Chakra Pravartan" after he achieved enlightment at Bodhigaya. Later, the great Buddhist Emperor Ashoka built the Dharmarajika Stupa and near it erected a pillar surmounted by the magnificent capital of four adored lions, which today forms the national emblem of India.

Ramnagar - The residential place of Kashi Naresh now houses a museum with the exhibits of palanquins, costumes, swords, sabres etc.

Chunar Fort - The Chunar fort has had a succession of owners representing most of India's rulers over the last 500 years. Chunar sandstone has been used for centuries, most popularly in Ashokan pillars.

Ram Nagar Fort and Palace - Ramnagar Fort is the residential palace of the former Maharaja of Varanasi. The palace is an astronomical and astrological wonder with giant walls, big clock, temple and museum.

ABC Art Gallery - The gallery has the exhibits of well known artists of India. 
B.H.U.and Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum - Banaras Hindu University (B.H.U) founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya is the largest residential University in India. The Bharat Kala Bhavan has a vast collection of paintings, Hindu and Buddhist sculptures and other materials of archeological studies.

Ashoka Pillar - It is at Saranath standing in front of the main stupa where Ashoka sat and meditated.

Vishwanath temple (Golden Temple) - The most sacred temple in Varanasi is the Vishwanath temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Hindus believe Shiva lives here and it’s a holy place. The shivalinga at the Vishwanath temple is among one of the 12 Jyotrilingas.

Kedareshvara Temple - It is another important Shiva temple of the city. The stone linga is said to have emerged spontaneously. 

Sankat Mochan Temple - The temple is dedicated to Hanuman.

Shitala Temple - This white temple is dedicated to Shitala, the smallpox goddess. 

Chausath Yogini Temple - This temple originally devoted to a tantric cult is now devoted to Kali.  

 

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