Top 5 Places to Visit in Varanasi or Banaras or Kashi, are names of the same holy city in northern India. One of the oldest settlements in the world, Varanasi is also considered one of the most sacred places in India by the Hindus. This land with the pious river Ganga flowing and hermits roaming in orange robes, temples and shrines scattered and peace prevailing; is centuries old. Varanasi is at once exceptionally old-world and freshly contemporary and has been one of the major educational centres in the world since time immemorial. Here are top tourist places you must visit when in Varanasi.
The Varanasi ghats are famous all over the world for the utter culture and devotion they invoke. These ghats are basically steps leading down to the river Ganga, used by pilgrims and bathers. The sacred aura that these ghats exude is something that will stay with you all your life. There are several ghats in Varanasi – Panchganga Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Dasaswamedh Ghat, Kedar Ghat, Tulsi Ghat and many more. All these beatific ghats are known for their spiritual ambience. Boat rides from one ghat to another are the major attraction here.
Banaras Hindu University
Banaras Hindu University has been a central part of Varanasi’s identity since its inception in 1916. The well-respected public university is home to more than 25,000 students, making it one of Asia’s largest residential universities.
There are no hill stations near Varanasi, so if you’re looking for an escape from the crowds and busy city, come to this lush 1,300-acre campus. The serene area is shaded by hundreds of tall trees and offers a breath of fresh air from the hectic atmosphere at the Banaras Ghats.
While on campus, swing by the New Vishwanath Temple, a famous temple that finally finished its decades-long construction in 1966. Standing 77 meters high, the temple is one of the tallest in India and draws architectural inspiration from the nearby Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Hindu pilgrims and tourists alike travel for thousands of miles to reach the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple, a sacred attraction around four kilometers from the Varanasi Junction railway station near the Manikarnika Ghat. The impressive structure, dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva, has earned the nickname “The Golden Temple” for its striking spire — plated in some 800 kilograms of pure gold. The distinctive design of this temple has gone on to inspire the architecture of hundreds of other temples across India.
Strict security measures around the complex require that tourists stash their cameras, phones, bags, and other belongings in a rentable locker nearby. Expect to ditch your shoes and wait in line with hundreds of other visitors, all eager to touch the 60-centimeter-tall, sin-absolving Shiva lingam in a silver alter. It’s an intense, yet rewarding experience
Dashashwamedh Ghat is another vivid, bright place in the town, known for its flamboyant nature and a spiritual peace that go hand in hand. It is beleived that the creator of the world Lord Brahma sacrificed ‘dash ashvahaa’ or 10 horses here in a yajna. That is the reason this ghat is named the ‘dash-ashwa-medh’ ghat. Regular agni pooja and Ganga aarti are held here, and special rituals carried out on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For those who have watched the beautiful critically acclaimed movie Masaan, you shall definitely be familiar with this ghat. The same bank where the movie was shot and written for, the bank where cremation of dead bodies takes place, carried on by the workers who are shunned and considered ‘lower’ by the society. Manikarnika is considered to be a pious and auspicious place to die and be cremated at. Many terminally ill people come here to die, to be burnt here, so that their smoke be filed into the air of Manikarnika and their ashes immersed in Ganga by its side. Some sights of during flesh can be scary, and frankly scarring for those who haven’t seen Hindu cremation before or are weak of the heart. So prepare yourself before you venture here.