10 Best Places To Visit in Varanasi or Banaras or Kashi (2020)
May you call it Varanasi/Banaras or Kashi, this adobe of Indian culture is known to the whole world. Varanasi the spiritual capital of India (Bharat), and you’ll realize so when you’ll pay a visit to this historical city. Situated at banks of holy Ganges, Varanasi or Banaras is filled with the fragrance of culture, history and sacred rituals of the tradition.
Varanasi is not only famous for being deeply rooted and synonymous with Indian culture. But It’s a delightful fusion of ancient art and modern outlook. That’s why every year, approximately 60 lakh tourists make their journey in the heart of U.P.
Varanasi gets its name from the two streams of holy Ganges in the city – the ‘Varuna’ and the ‘assi’. It portrays the evolution of Indian culture, society and scriptures. It is a hub of many astounding spiritual activities such as yoga, meditation, astrology, music and science of Ayurveda. Varanasi or Banaras is also famous for its authentic silk fabric sarees all over the world. Banarsi Saree is the mark of excellence and luxury. To sum it up, Varanasi is a box full of surprises and twists. If you crave for adventure and learning, let’s take a look at some of the top places to visit when in Varanasi or Banaras
10 Best Places To Visit in Varanasi or Banaras or Kashi
When going through this list of places to visit in Varanasi, please remember that Varanasi is limitless like its legacy and the more you’ll travel in this city more you’ll fall in love with it. We have curated some of the top places that one must visit when in Varanasi (Banaras or Kashi):
1. Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Meaning “The Lord Of The World “, Kashi Viswanath Temple is one of the most prominent Shiva temples of India. Kashi Viswanath Temple at Varanasi is one of 12 Jyotirlingas. it is on banks of holy Ganges on the western side.
History of this temple in Varanasi dates back to ‘Puran era’, and it finds its mention in ‘Skanda Purana’. Kashi Viswanath Temple has been rebuilt many times throughout history. It’s a temple of gold for Lord Shiva because it has around 800 kilograms of gold plating on its tower. No electronic gadgets are allowed inside the temple and those should be deposited in lockers outside.
Kashi Viswanath Temple is not only an integral part of Hindu culture and faith, but it is also a spectacle to watch. This temple is beautifully covered in elaborate carvings that project a divine artistic vibe. Apart from the famous shiva temple in the center, there are several small temples of Lord KaalBhairav, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Vinayaka etc. This temple holds a lot of significance because there’s a belief that people will attain moksha (salvation) here. Several great saints and famous personalities have paid a visit to this holy place such as Tulsidas, Vivekanand, Guru Nanak, and the cast of the movie “Eat, Pray and Love” etc.
Varanasi isn’t only an encyclopedia of Hindu culture, but it is spiritual in every aspect. One such example is the ‘Sarnath.’ this place is world-famous and sacred to buddha followers for being a holy place. At this very place, Goutam Buddha first gave his preaching of dharma. Buddhist sangha came into formation here.
Sarnath is located 10 kms north-east of Varanasi city. Xuan Zang in his descriptions has written about Sarnath that it had a 100 meters tall stupa and there were 1500 Buddhist monks living in monasteries. Most famous site is the Dhamekha stupa in the deer complex. Ashoka built it in 249 B.C. Sarnath is full of pleasant sights of greenery and a perfect spot for peaceful meditation.
You can reach here by train or bus or taxi/rickshaw from Varanasi. It’s also a famous archaeological site, and there’s a museum for you all history geeks. There are Thai, Chinese and other culture temples as a unique attraction.
3. Dasaswamedh Ghat
Its name breaks into ‘ Dasas + Ashwamedha’. It is written in scriptures that Dasa Ashwamedha yajna was performed by none other than Lord Brahma right here.
Dasaswamedh Ghat is home to many rituals, and you should visit it on Kartik Purnima, to be part of a conscious experience of ‘Dev Deepawali’. But what people always remember this ghat for is the ‘Ganga Aarti’.
Every evening many people throughout the world witnesses this through the broadcast. But the live experience is otherworldly and can’t be described in mere words.
Also, you can enjoy sunrise boat tours and enjoy the beauty of Ganga so closely. Also, many Hindu sages can be seen performing last rites and other rituals on this ghat in Varanasi.
4. Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
As the name suggests, this temple is dedicated to Hindu Lord Rama and his great devotee Lord Hanuman. This temple was constructed in the 1900s. Credit for this temple goes to famous revolutionary Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya.
Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple in Varanasi is particularly famous among locals and many pay their respects here.it is believed that Lord Hanuman is an incarnation of Lord Shiva and has protected Varanasi. Indian Sweet ‘Ladoo’ is quite the talk here which is distributed in the temple. Also, Be conscious with your stuff as there are many monkeys around the temple to amaze you with their mischief. Although they’re harmless if not bothered.
5. Assi Ghat
One of the two most famous ghats of Varanasi, Assi Ghat is placed at the conjunction of Holy Ganges and Assi river. There is an old Peepal tree which hosts a large Lord Shiva’s ‘Shiva Linga’ under it.
Assi ghat leaves a distinctive mark on the heart of visitors and is the lifeline of locals. Many locals and tourists of Varanasi gather here in large groups to enjoy sunrise and sunset. Mostly it is visited by nearby students of Banaras Hindu Vishwa Vidyalaya.
On 24 November 2014 a tourism promotion program ‘Subah-e-Banaras’ was started here. It includes a boat tour along with rising sun shining over the horizon. All this creates a mesmerising sight. You Can enjoy Vedic knowledge sessions here in the morning and also entertain yourself with ‘Yoga’. Assi Ghat is surely a place to visit when in Varanasi.
6. Banaras Hindu University (New Vishwanath Temple)
The campus of widely acclaimed Banaras Hindu university is the home of this sacred temple. There’s an aura of calmness and tranquility around the temple. The natural beauty of the campus and the holy Ganges flowing on its side creates such an atmosphere that you would want to settle there.
This temple is the dedication of Famous business tycoons ‘Birla’ Group. They started the construction which got completed in 1966.
There is also something for curators of Visual art, as there is a Bharat Kala Mandir boasting of beautiful pieces. Temple could be considered as a hidden jewel within the campus. It is also considered to be a great example of architectural excellence. Like Golden Vishwanath temple, this is also dedicated to Hindu Deity Lord Shiva.
The Maha Shivaratri festival stands as a great attraction here with sparkling lights and enjoyment.
7. Tibetan Temple, Varanasi.
Another great attraction of Sarnath, Varanasi, is the Tibetan temple which is an example of delicate Tibetan visual art and India’s cultural diversity. This place is famous for Lord Buddha preaching his disciples here, and then dharma being carried through generations of monks at this very location. Although not more than seven decades old, the temple structure doesn’t seem to be out of place among the classy architecture of ancient buildings around.
Spectacles include big Sakyamuni (Buddha’s other form) and hundreds of small buddhas curated in a glass shelf. Although being a shrine, sometimes rooms are given to devotees for special reasons to stay.
8. Manikarnika Ghat
Varanasi is held so piously in the minds of Hindus as it portrays the eternal truth of life -‘Death’. Manikarnika Ghat is popular for being crematory ghat and most visitors to Varanasi do visit this place. It demands respect from visitors and in return, lets them witness the funeral ceremony and mourners. Boats here are laden with wood and bamboo used in last rites. It’s a tranquil place, and visitors should be honorable towards it to experience this unique aspect of life and culture.
There’s a story behind the name of this ghat that Sati Mata’s body parts fell where different Shaktipeeths are today. Ear ornaments from her charred body fell here, and it became the ‘Manikarnika’.
9. Nepali Temple
Nepali Temple of Varanasi, also Known as Kathwala temple, is proof that Varanasi and its soul resides in Lord Shiva.
This is another Lord Shiva Temple with distinct Nepali architecture and unique Shiva Linga. It is similar in design to Lord Pashupatinath with Lord Shivas faces carved in all four directions. Another feature of its look is being a terra cotta building. Nepali Temple at Varanasi is close to Lalita Ghat, and these two give a combined look of distinction making it a must visit place in Varanasi.
Kathwala translates to ‘Wooden’ and is a specimen of Nepali taste to those of us who haven’t visited Nepal.
10. Tulsi Manasa Temple
Tulsi Manasa temple of Varanasi gets its name from great Indian saint and poet Tulsidas. This temple is dedicated to Lord Rama and his life. Constructed in 1964, it is built-in Shikhar style architecture. Quality of this temple which stands out even at a glance are the various inscriptions from Tulsidas Ram Charit Manas on the walls of the temple.
Various activities relating to Lord Rama’s life and Ramayan are conducted here. They are a source of great entertainment and knowledge. Several parts from Ramayana also have been displayed on the upper floor of the temple.
You should visit Tulsi Manasa Temple of Varanasi in the month of Sawan (July-August) when there’s a special puppet show related to Ramayana and is quite fun and enriching for everyone.
In short, if you describe Varanasi as a movie, it’s not limited to one genre or theme. Varanasi or Banaras or Kashi is a fusion of progressive times, with an example of BHU and still retains the essentials of its core in the form of culture, diversity, peace, traditions and knowledge. Experience of the Varanasi is such that you’re bound to find an elixir for your soul and nirvana from all your worries, stress and limitations. Varanasi is limitless, so is the human spirit, and that’s what you’ll love about this city.