Varanasi or Banaras is generally called the spiritual city of India. As the holy Ganges passes through this city, the majority of the Hindu population comes to this city to take a bath in the holy water. Often called just Kashi, this city is as important to Jains as it is to Hindus. A city where many major religions gained importance, Varanasi serves as a divine city where people find solace from busy city life and find themselves at par with the almighty. The city is quite famous for its Ghats and temples. Near the UP-Bihar border, Varanasi is a city of colors. The city has been important since medieval times. Many kingdoms and rulers have tried to incorporate this city into their empire, which gives this city a glorious history.
Being one of India’s oldest cities, Banaras offers many temples and scenic views to tourists. Here are things to do in Banaras-
- Take a dip in the Ganges-
According to Hindu Tradition, the holy water of Ganges often washes away the sins of those who take a dip in it. That being said, though the water might not wash away the sins, the feeling of submerging yourself in the holy water of Ganges is surreal. The atmosphere in the Ghats is always ecstatic, so you won’t find the Ghats deserted. Though the city has 84 Ghats, most of them would already be filled with people taking a dip in the holy water while chanting prayers.
- Experience the Evening Aarti at the Ghats-
Out of the 84 Ghats, Dasawamedh ghat offers the best place to enjoy and view the evening prayers. The spiritual procession is carried out every day, which is often a grand mind-boggling to the viewers. The Ganga Aarti Ceremony starts during wee hours of dusk, while preparations are started earlier. As the time of aarti comes near, one can see the crowd slowly growing in number. The aarti starts with the lighting of brass lamps, which are huge and adds to the grand nature of the aarti. The whole scene of the aarti from the Ghats is surreal, as one can see the blue sky change slowly into a black one while the sounds of the holy procession distract the viewers from their worldly problems. People also have the option of viewing the proceedings from a moving boat.
- Visit the city temples-
The city of Banaras is filled with temples. These temples offer majestic architecture and can be found all around the city. Though there are few important temples that one should definitely visit, the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple is also frequently visited by Sikhs, as Maharaja Ranjit Singh donated a huge quantity of gold into the temple. Durga temple is also famous in Banaras. The main deity of goddess Durga is believed to be made by the goddess herself. The number of people visiting this temple increases sharply during the time of Navaratri.
- Ride the boat along the Ganges-
Tourists can ride boats along the river. As most of the City of Varanasi is settled along the banks of the river, one can view the old part of the city by just getting a boat ride. Though boats are available to hire at any point in the day, it is best to get a boat ride during the early hours of the day. You can hire a boat as early as 5 in the morning, which is often the best time. During these early hours, one can easily see the calm and peaceful side of the city. Also, many sadhus and babas take the bath and pray during these early hours.
- Visit Sarnath-
Located a few kilometers from the main city of Banaras, the village of Singhpur is famous for being a hub for Buddhist followers. It is believed that Gautam Buddha first came to this village to teach people the meaning of Dharma. As a result, this place also has its own religious importance. The architecture in Sarnath is also majestic, as most of it was built under the rule of Ashoka. The place is a must visit for people that are fascinated by our country’s history and heritage. The tour of the village and its surrounding areas starts early in the morning and ends up by afternoon.
The City of Varanasi and its people are very warm and welcoming. Since the city is an international tourist destination, it is equipped with major facilities that help both foreign and domestic tourists. Banaras is connected to all major Indian cities with the help of air transport. The Banaras airport is situated in the outskirts of the city. Major transportation services like railways and bus services are quite excellent for reaching the city.