Loacted on the banks of the holy river Ganges, Varanasi is a city that exudes spirituality, culture, and history. It is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and is considered the spiritual capital of India. A trip to Varanasi is an immersive experience, where ancient rituals, vibrant festivals, and mystical charm await. Here are some of the top places to visit in Varanasi, each offering a unique glimpse into the city’s rich tapestry.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the holiest of all temples in Varanasi. It is a revered site for Hindu pilgrims and showcases remarkable architectural beauty. The temple’s gold-plated spire and intricate carvings leave visitors in awe. Witnessing the evening aarti (prayer) at the temple is an experience that will resonate with you for a lifetime.
One of the most prominent and bustling ghats in Varanasi, Dashashwamedh Ghat is the perfect place to soak in the city’s vibrant atmosphere. The ghat is famous for its grand aarti ceremony held every evening, where priests perform rituals accompanied by chants and music. Witnessing this spectacle from a boat on the Ganges offers a unique perspective and a sense of spiritual serenity.
Located a few kilometers from Varanasi, Sarnath holds immense significance in Buddhism as the place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon. Explore the Dhamek Stupa, which marks the spot of the sermon, and visit the Sarnath Archaeological Museum to discover ancient artifacts and sculptures depicting Buddhist art.
While it may seem unconventional, Manikarnika Ghat offers a deep insight into the cycle of life and death in Hinduism. Considered the most sacred cremation ghat in Varanasi, witnessing the cremation rituals can be a profound and humbling experience. It is an opportunity to reflect on the transient nature of life and the importance of spirituality.
Banaras Hindu University
Take a stroll through the prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU), one of India’s premier educational institutions. The sprawling campus is adorned with beautiful gardens, majestic buildings, and the iconic Vishwanath Temple. Visit the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, which houses an extensive collection of art, sculptures, and historical artifacts.
Crossing the Ganges River to the eastern bank will bring you to the Ramnagar Fort, a stunning architectural marvel. The fort, built in the 18th century, houses a museum that showcases a fascinating collection of vintage cars, medieval weaponry, and royal artifacts. Explore the grand halls and courtyards, and witness the daily evening ceremony known as “Ganga Aarti” performed here.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find tranquility at Assi Ghat, one of the quieter and serene ghats in Varanasi. This ghat is believed to be the place where the river Assi meets the Ganges. It is a popular spot for meditation, yoga, and spiritual practices. Enjoy a boat ride along the river and soak in the peaceful ambiance.
Embark on a day trip to Chunar Fort, situated about 40 kilometers from Varanasi. This ancient fort holds great historical significance and offers panoramic views of the Ganges River. Explore the fort’s architecture, climb the watchtowers, and immerse yourself in the tales of the past.