Posted 23 December 2022
The city of Varanasi, also known as Banaras, is one of India's oldest and holiest cities. It is quirky yet unique and redefines what India means. Varanasi is one of the most charmingly chaotic cities in the world. You are sure to be swept away by Varanasi's weird world, from the crowded lanes to the ancient ghats.
The fascinating Ganga Aarti at Varanasi is popular all over the world as it captivates the visitor's attention as hundreds of lighted diyas illuminate the river Ganga. The Ganga Aarti attracts thousands of international tourists and locals to witness this beautiful event.
At dusk, with so many diyas and lamps lining up on the water, it makes for a memorable visual experience for people watching. There is undeniable magic in the air, filled with incense and glowing aartis. You can book a boat and watch the mesmerising ceremony on the boat in a river, an experience worth witnessing.
Popular places in Varanasi where Ganga Aarti is performed include the Assi Ghat and Dashashwarmedh Ghat.
Named after two main Ghats, Varun Ghat and Assi Ghat, Varanasi possesses a rich cultural heritage. One of Varanasi's main attractions is its attractive ghats, most of which date back to the time of the Maratha Empire. Over 80 ghats are located around the city, each one telling a different story. It is believed that the city is one of the best places in India to perform religious rituals and offer pujas because it is located at the junction of three holy rivers — the Ganga, Yamuna and Brahmaputra. Even cremations are sometimes performed on these ghats.
Famous ghats of Varanasi to visit:
In addition to its many pilgrimage sites, Varanasi is also famous for its religious festivals and fairs. The festival of Maha Shivratri is one of the most beloved festivals in the city. Holi, the festival of colours, takes on a new dimension in this city, where the colourful festivals transform the city. Another famous festival is Diwali when the ghats are lined with numerous lighted diyas.
Other festivals celebrated in the city include Diwali, Rangbhari Ekadashi, Ram Leela, Ganga Dussehra, Annakut, Shravan Maah and Makar Sankranti. A few major religious fairs include the Dhrupad Mela, Kumbh Mela, Sarnath Fair and Vaisakhi Mela.
At the holy place of Sarnath, 10km from Varanasi, Gautama Buddha preached for the first time to his followers after achieving enlightenment. The grounds are beautifully maintained, with the Dhamek Stupa at its centre. The Mulagandhakuti Vihara marks the site where Gautama Buddha spent his first monsoon deep in meditation. There is some interesting carving on the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath. Additionally, there are six national temples from various Asian communities, which include a Tibetan temple and a temple for the Sri Lankan community. The archaeological museum of Sarnath contains treasures that are worth exploring. As well as being a centre for spirituality, it is also a beautiful picnic spot near Varanasi.
Known internationally for their beautiful textiles, the weavers of Varanasi create magic by weaving exquisite works of art. The Sarai Mohana village is popular for its silk weaving. Banarasi sarees woven by these weavers are considered among the finest in India. These ethnic textiles are characterised by gold and silver brocade, also known as zari, fine silk and intricate embroidery. These saris are worn mainly by Indian brides. Visitors are welcome to visit the village to learn about the craftsmanship of the weavers and get some insight into the secret of the sarees made here, which take between 15 days to 6 months to complete.
Varanasi is known for its gastronomic offerings. When it comes to food, Varanasi offers a diverse selection of flavours and dishes. There are a variety of local street foods that you can get your hands on in Varanasi. Get your fill of tasty local meals served with love, including crunchy kachoris and spicy aloo puri. Banaras is also famous for paan. It is a must-try Varanasi speciality that is made of betel leaf and you should not miss it. The best part is the low cost which ensures no one goes hungry.
After religion, it is music that courses through the streets of Varanasi. With the sounds of tablas, flutes, sitars and sarods, you are sure to be enthralled.
This place hosts many musical events, including classical music concerts and festivals, like Ganga Mahotsav and Mahindra Kabira Music Festival. This place has produced some of the world's most famous musical geniuses. Two prominent names in the world of music are Ustad Bismillah Khan, an expert in playing the woodwind instrument shehnai, Girija Devi, a classical singer and Pandit Ravi Shankar, a Sitar maestro. Furthermore, the city has a lot of music schools where you can learn an instrument and there are lots of music stores to buy them.
Varanasi, also known as the spiritual capital of India, is a city in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi is very popular among pilgrims due to its numerous temples, so reaching the city is quite easy. Trains, roads and planes are all readily accessible to Varanasi. Varanasi Junction and Mughal Sarai Junction are two of its main railway stations. Varanasi Airport has daily flights to both Mumbai and Delhi. Buses are also readily available.
Interstate and intrastate buses are also available for passengers' convenience.
The ideal time to visit Varanasi is when the winter sets in (October). You can plan a visit anytime during winter (between October and March). Summer in Varanasi can be very sweltering and humid. While monsoon is a nice change from the hot dry summer, the heavy showers are often accompanied by storms. For tourists, the monsoon season might not be the best as the roads and lanes are mostly wet and slippery and are prone to accidents. Thus, winter remains the most ideal time to visit Varanasi with most of the fairs and festivals being held during this time.
The three seasons, summer, monsoon and winter are quite prominent in Varanasi. Nevertheless, whether it’s a hot summer day or a rain-soaked monsoon, Varanasi's weather has never stopped pilgrims from coming seeking the blessings of different gods and goddesses at the various shrines here. Varanasi is pretty hot and muggy in the summer and cold and foggy in the winter.
The heart of Hinduism lies in Varanasi. Varanasi is unparalleled in its beauty and cannot be explained in mere words. There are many mysteries in this sacred place that you must discover once in your lifetime.