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Varanasi

Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities in the world and the ultimate pilgrimage for Hindus, who believe that to die in the city is to attain instant salvation. Varanasi is the tract of holy land lying between the Ganga and the Assi rivers. The Assi river also flows into Ganga. Varanasi is also known as Kashi, the city of light since one of the twelve 'Jyortinglinga's is installed here. Varanasi has been a great cultural centre, especially in the fields of music, learning and the craft of silk weaving.

Best Time to VIsit : Because of its proximity to the Tropic of Cancer, Varanasi enjoys a pleasant winter with a daytime temperature of around 20C. The temperature can touch a low of around 10C in late December and January with heavy fog in the early part of the day. October-November and February-March are usually comfortable and sunny.

The summer season is, however, harsh in Varanasi. Beginning in April and continuing through June, it is extremely dry and daytime temperatures often climb up to as high as 45C.

The monsoon season, which starts by late June or early July, brings torrential rains and high humidity to the city. By late September, however, the weather returns to a comfortable level.

HOT ATTRACTIONS
Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi

Kovalam TourismVishwanath Temple is located amidst the crowded lanes in the holy city of Varanasi also known as Kashi and Benares. The Vishwanath Temple enshrines one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Lord Shiva and is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites for Hindus. It is believed that Varanasi is the point at which the first Jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested his supremacy over other gods, broke through the earth’s crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remain the devotional focus of Varanasi. Millions of pilgrims converge here to perform an abhishekam to the sacred Jyotirlingam with sacred water of river Ganga.

Devi Kanaka Durga

The abode of Kanaka Durga, goddess of power, riches and benevolence, is the presiding deity of the city. The temple is set on the Indrakiladri hill. The deity in the Kanaka Durga temple is regarded as Swayambhu or self-manifested, hence is considered very powerful. It is said that Adi Sankara visited this temple and installed the Sri Chakra here.

The beauty of this temple is seen to be believed. The temple is situated on a hill on the banks of the Krishna river. The origin or installation of Kanaka - durga Devi at Vijayawada is unknown. She is said to be Swayambu or selfmanifest. She also takes the aspect of Chandi or destroyer of the demon Durgama who was causing havoc among the peace - loving inhabitants of Dakshinapatha.


Varansai Ghats

Latthmar holiThe Mesmerising Ghats
The majestic Ghats of Varanasi have a unique appeal in them which not only attracts tourists, but also bounds them to come back again. The ghats on the banks on river Ganges, are not only a prime tourists attraction, but of equal holy status to the Hindus. Some of these ghats are very old, as old as pre-historic times, and some of them are very new ghats. The ghats are a way of living for the people residing near ghats. Specially for Hindus, all rituals of daily life are conducted on these ghats. From birth to death, all the necessary religious ceremonies are conducted on these ghats. The specialised 'Pandits' are always there to help in these rituals. One can walk on the ghats to see all of them.

Boat Cruise Along The Ghats
A morning ride on boat across river Ganga is something which no one would want to miss. Its really fascinating to see how life gets started at 3 a.m. in Varanasi and continues non stop till 8 in evening. Just after sunrise, on the banks of the river Ganges take a boat cruise, where one come across hundreds of Hindu devotees taking a holy bath in the river and offering water to God Surya (Sun). The entire environ is just full of devotion and sanctity. The boat ride starts from Dasashwamedh Ghat and ends at Manikarnika Ghat along the sacred Ganges. A boat cruise takes 1 hour for a complete trip. Another, most mesmerising scene on the ghats is the evening 'Puja' on the Dashaswamedh Ghat.

The Surroundings
The Ghats are a way of life for the people around the ghats. These ghats are involved with the life of people in many ways, like daily routine, religious activities, daily wage earning and tourism. One can come accross small children playing on ghats, Chillum smoking Sadhus, busy boaters, herds of cows, painters, musicians, students and many others on the ghats. To have a close look at the ghats and its lifestyle, one should take a walk from Assi Ghat to Manikarnika Ghat. There are some very good Hotels, restaurants, cafes, book shops, music shops on these ghats. Luxury and budget accommodations are also available on the ghats. Small stalls, selling religiously important things, like chains, stones, idols and religious books, are in plenty. Old houses and buildings on the ghats makes the ghats more beautiful. The ghats looks very busy and bustled with crowd, but the life is very slow and very calm on the ghats.

Major Ghats

Dashashwamedh Ghat
The most visited ghat of Varanasi by religious pilgrims, Dashashwamedh ghat is the most beautiful ghat in city. The ghat is close to the famous 'Vishwanath Temple' and is therefore of high religious importance. The most enticing part is the evening 'Puja' performed by the group of priests. Also called as 'Fire Puja', the ceremony is a dedication to River Ganges, Sun, Lord Shiva, Fire and the whole universe. The Ghats finds mention in the old religious texts, as it is said that lord Brahma created the ghats to welcome lord Shiva.

Assi Ghat
The most favored ghat of tourists, Assi ghat is the end of the continous line of ghats. The beautiful ghat is a regular for the local festivals, games and other activities. The ghat is very charming. Someone who has ever visited Assi ghat will long to go there again and again. The place is favorite haunt of the Foreign tourists. There are some very good restaraunts and cafes on the Assi ghat. Its best to hire a boat from Assi Ghat and visit Dashaswamedh Ghat and walk back. Assi ghat is also a favorite site for the blooming painters and photographers. Evenings are very special, as there are musical parties and gatherings on the steps of the ghat.

Manikarnika Ghat
A pre historic ghat, Manikarnika ghat is the place where dead bodies of Hindus are burnt. It is said that if a person dies in Varanasi, he/she will be free from the cycle of re-birth. Manikarnika ghat is said to be existing from the times of 'Ramayana'. As per folks, King Harishchandra worked here as a pyre-man. It is also believed that fire on the ghat has not stopped for thousands of years.

Lalita Ghat
Situated next to the Manikarnika ghat, Lalita ghat is known for Ganga Keshava Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the famous Nepalese temple, built in wood, in the typical Nepalese style, dedicated to Pashupateshwar or Lord Shiva. The image of the deity is said to be the manifestation of that in the famous pilgrimage place of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu valley.

Harishchandra Ghat
The Harishchandra ghat is the said to be the same ghat where the owner of Manikarnika bought King Harishchandra as a slave and made him work on the Manikarnika. The ghat is a funeral place for Hindus, though majority of dead bodies are taken to the Manikarnika Ghat.

Tulsi Ghat is another famous ghat, where the famous epic 'Ramacharitmanas' was written by Tulsi das. Other important ghats are Kedar Ghat, Pande Ghat, Shivala Ghat and Chausathi Ghat.

FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

The festive magic never ends in Varanasi. If Poornima cleanses, Maha Shivratri blesses. If Holika-Dahan is a celebration, Dhrupad Mela is a revelation…. One does not require making his itinerary according to the dates and months of the festivals. One can come and enjoy the festive season anytime of the year here.

Benarasi mithais (sweets) and the famous Benarasi paan (betel leaf) are two specialties that can be found in this magical city. Both are very dear to the people-traditional and crucial to the social system-far beyond the simple act of cooking, preparing, and eating.

Milk-based sweets are flavored with cardamon, saffron, essence of rose extract, a garnish of nuts, and a fine layer of edible silver foil. Layers of fresh cream lovingly embrace dry fruits that are hidden in the interiors of malai paan. Thickened milk is left out in the dew overnight and then flavored with saffron. This mix is then beaten to a stiff froth-it would put any soufflé to shame. Nimmish is undisputedly a delicacy only for the well to do and that too only in winter. The Benarasi paan is a very heavily flavored betel leaf smeared with catechu (a tannin rich powder called katha), lime paste (chuna), and wrapped around shredded betel nut (supari) and often cardamom pod, aniseed and tobacco. Secured by a clove pierced through the folds of the betel leaf, sweetening agents, peppermint, menthol, and local aphrodisiacs are also added to this elaborate package. Given the acclaimed digestive qualities of all ingredients, it is a perfect way to round off a good and wholesome Indian meal (though most people have a paan safely tucked away into the recesses of their mouth perpetually).

 
How To Reach
By Train Varanasi has two railway stations-Kashi and Varanasi Junction (also Cantonment Station). We would provide you all India tourist permit vehicles for the local transportations and also for the intercity drives too.


By Road

Varanasi, on (National Highway) NH2 from Calcutta to Delhi, NH7 to Kanya Kumari and NH29 to GoraKhpur is connected literally to the rest of the country by good motorable, all – weather roads. Some important road distances are: Agra 565 km., Allahabad 128 km., Bhopal 791 km., Bodhgaya 240 km., Kanpur 330 km., Khajuraho 405 km., Lucknow 286 km., patna 246 km., Sarnath 10 km., Lumbini (Napal) 386 km., Kushi Nagar 250 km. (via Gorkhpur), UPSRTC Bus Stand, Sher Shah Suri Marg, Golgadda Bus Stand.

By Air Varanasi is well connected by air to several cities in India. It is on the popular daily tourist service Delhi-Agra-Khajuraho-Varanasi route..







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