Varanasi is the oldest inhabited city in the world, where the reigning Hindu deity,Lord Shiva is revered in numerous temples and shrines. The city has a timeless eternal appeal of it's own. A city that should be visited at least once by everyone. Crowded with temples, and its labyrinth of streets, the city attracts a large number of tourists. The religious capital of Hinduism, Varanasi is the world's most ancient city and was previously called Kashi - the city that illuminates. The present name is derived from the fact that the city is at the confluence of the rivers Varuna and Asi. At a distance of 12 kms from Varanasi is Sarnath where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon after Enlightenment. Here he revealed the eight fold path to Nirvana.
How to reach
By Air - Varanasi airport is connected to some cities in India including Delhi, Mumbai and Agra.
The bathing Ghats that line the holy city of Varanasi are best visited by boats that offer a regular service. The most famous among these Ghats are Dasaswamedh, Kedar and Manikarnika.
This temple, erected by Rani Ahalyabai Holkar of Indore in 1776, is the centre of devotion of the city. The domes of this temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, are lined with gold.
Ram Nagar Fort
This fort was the 17th century home of the Raja of Benaras. Now converted into an interesting museum, this fort houses the royal possessions.
Emperor Aurangzeb, in the 17th century destroyed the Vishweswara Temple and built this mosque over it's ruins.
Banaras Hindu University
This university is housed in an area of nearly 2000 acres. Perhaps the largest residential university in Asia.
Other important temples worth visiting are the Tulsi Manas, Durga Kund, Bharat Mata and New Vishwanath Temple.
Apart from visiting these famous places, you can shop for brocades, brassware, ivory-ware, carpets and gold jewellery. Main shopping areas are Chowk, Vishwanath Lane, Gyanvapi, Thatheri Bazaar and Lahurabir.
Varanasi has some mouth watering spread of sweets. One should definitely try the "Kachauri" and the vegetarian breakfast. And, of course, don't forget the "Banarasi paan" (Betel leaf).
The important festivals are Buddha Purnima, Chetganj Nakkataiya and Ganga Dussehra.