Banaras is known for many names – Kashi, Varanasi, and Benaras. It is in Uttar Pradesh on the banks of river Ganga. It is a city of God as many religious places are there. In the 8th century, Varanasi becomes the official place for the shipping of Lord Shiva by Adi Shankara. This city is the center of Hindu devotion, pilgrimage, mysticism, and poetry which further become the center of cultural importance and religious education. Ram Charit Manas, an epic poem about Rama’s life which wrote in Varanasi by Tulsidas. Kabir and Ravidas, part of the Bhakti movement also born in Banaras.
In the 2nd millennium BCE, Banaras was the residence of Aryan religion and famous for its muslin and silk fabrics, ivory works, sculpture, and perfumes. In 6th Century BC, Banaras was the capital of the kingdom of Kashi. During the Muslim rule period which began in 1194, many Hindu temples were destroyed. After that in the 16th century, there were some changes made to the city’s religious and cultural activities by Mughal emperor Akbar. In the 17th century, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb released some new rules. Then in the18th century, Banaras became an independent kingdom. The Britishers declared Banaras a new Indian state with Ramnagar as headquarters. Finally, Banaras became the part of Uttar Pradesh when India got independence in 1947.
The Beauty of Banaras
This city is so beautiful and looks so mesmerizing ad it contains miles of ghats, or steps, for religious bathing, temples, and places rise on tier from the water’s edge, all these things make this city more beautiful. Though the inner streets of the city are not that wide, the newly made outer suburbs are very spacious and in a systematic way. This city is covered with a road named Panchakosi where all the devotees walk on that road. There are so many visitors came to this city every year.
There are three very famous temples in bananas, – Vishvanatha (dedicated to Shiva), Sankatmochana ( dedicated to Hanuman), Durga temple. Another famous religious building is the Great Mosque of Aurangzeb. There are hundreds of temples in the city. There are ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples built by Maha Bodhi Society in the north of Banaras. Banaras Hindu University, a famous educational organization is also in Banaras. This city is famous for its production of silks and broader with gold and threadwork. Banaras is the origin house of the production of wooden toys, ivory work, bangles made of glass and brassware.
There is a big celebration of the religious festival of Mahashivaratri. It is a great night for the whole city as the celebration starts from Mahamrityunjaya Temple and end to the Kashi Vishvanath Temple. They are another festival, Ganga festival will come in November or December which is dedicated to the goddess of the Ganga River. They are thousands of lamps are placed on the that’s and many set afloat on the river. They are a festival named Bharat Milap also celebrate with a lot of enthusiasm in October or November for the reunion of Lord Rama with his younger brother Bharat after 14 years of exile.
It is the religious and spiritual capital of India. It is believed that the first Shiva Jyotirlinga emitted from the earth in this city and flared straight into the sky. That is why this city is also known by the name of “Kashi” or “City of Light”. This city is the origin of many temples. There are so many temples are there such as:
- Kashi Vishvanath Temple
- Sankat Mochan Temple
- Durga Temple
- Kaal Bhairav Temple
- Mritunjaya Temple
As this city has so many places of worship, then it is not wrong to name the city as “City of Temples”.
FACTS About Banaras:
- This town is surreal – It is a very busy city full of crowds everywhere and chitchats you listen all the time. There is a different peaceful vibe in this noisy environment as well. You feel like you are in a storybook or you are living a dream whenever you enter Banaras.
- Must visit there for life lessons, not for leisure – it is a place to relax. If you are looking for a hygienic, noise-free place then Banaras is not for you. It is a pos city but gives you a different level of peace of mind.
- Hinduism originated here but it’s not just Hindu – Banaras is famous for great Hindu epics but it hosts many religions. Banaras welcomes everyone in the same manner and equally. There are so many Hindu temples are there, those are the must-visit place in Banaras.
- Banaras eats dessert for breakfast – Banarsis ate dessert for breakfast. All sweet food like Lassi, rabdi, and many others sells at almost every shop.
- Ditch the tuk-tuks and walk – As this place is along the Ganga river. So every time you go there, wet your feet with holy Ganga water and make sounds of tuk-tuks. It will be so much fun.
- Don’t ask if you can skinny dip in the Ganges – Some Indians believe that Ganga river is a truth – a crossing point between heaven and earth. So don’t ask for taking a dip in the holy gang’s river.
- The summer is hellish
- Be wary of the monkeys – As there is a very famous Hanuman temple is in Banaras. So monkeys are everywhere, be aware of monkeys as they won’t harm you until and unless you don’t tease them.
- Get your lunch fried on the streets
- Banasrasis are songbirds – Banaras is home to one of the oldest schools of music in the country. You can hear the voice of singing a song all over Banaras. A lot of them do, and they’ll be happy to sing for you.
- Get in a few bhang rips
- Be ready to philosophize
- Competitive sport is big
- Ain’t no party like Shivratri – As Banaras is known as the origin of Lord Shiva, so there is a huge celebration on Shivratri. Every year in March, locals come together to offer their city to their God.
- Bring cash, time and an open mind