Varanasi is a city located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. This ancient city, which is said to be older than history, has many tourist attractions. Varanasi is particularly famous for its temples and is popularly known as the holy city. The rivers Varuna and Asi flanks the city from both sides, from which the city derived its name. The various embankments or ghats of the Ganges are the centre of assorted activities in this city activities which range from business to worship. Some of the famous ghats of Varanasi include Panchganga, Dashashwamedha, Barnasangam, Assi and Manikarnika.
The tourist attractions in and around Varanasi include visits to its numerous temples. One of the must visits is the Durga Temple, built in north Indian style, which is located roughly 2 kms south to the old city. Built in Nagara style of architecture, this 18th century temple reflects majesty. This temple is also known as 'Monkey Temple' because of the monkeys that reside there. This red and ochre-hued temple is very beautiful and the ornate multi-tiered shikhara (spire) of the temple consists of five segments, which are representative of 'five elements'. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga, who is represented as the personification of female power. Non-Hindus can be admitted in the courtyard, but not allowed to enter the inner sanctum.
The famous Kashi Vishwanath Mandir or temple in its present form, was built by Maharani Ahilya Bai Holkar in 1780 AD. Unlike other temples in Varanasi, this temple is open to all, irrespective of caste or creed. Also known as the Golden Temple, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva is enshrined in the temple. Another worth visiting temple is the Bharat Mata Mandir. It is not dedicated to any Gods or Goddesses, but to the nation. Mahatma Gandhi inaugurated the temple. This temple has a huge map of the Indian subcontinent and Tibetan plateau carved in marble. The mountains, rivers and pilgrim sites of India are clearly visible on the map. The Tulsi Manas Mandir, dedicated to Lord Rama, was built in 1964 and is believed to stand where the great medieval seer Tulsidas wrote the great epic 'Shri Ramcharitmanas'. The walls of the temple are engraved with verses and scenes from this epic. The other important temples which dot the city landscape are the Annapurna Temple, Jateshwar Mahadeo, Kal Bhairav, Vinayaka Temple and Maha Mritunjaya Temple.
However, there are more tourist attractions in and around Varansi than its temples. The Banaras Hindu University is the largest residential university in the continent of Asia. The university was founded by Pundit Madan Mohan Malaviya, in 1917. The university has numerous courses including arts, culture, music and Sanskrit, and is regarded as one of the premier educational institutes of India. The institution boasts of an excellent assortment of miniature paintings, sculptures from the first to fifteenth century, old photographs of Varanasi and brocade textiles.
Another of the tourist attractions in and around Varanasi is the Archaeological Museum, which is located in Sarnath, a small town of great historical significance near Varansi. The museum is located at about 10 kms from Varanasi. It has the lion capital from the Ashokan pillar. This structure of four back-to-back lions is adopted as the state emblem of modern India. It has figures and sculptures from the Kushana, Mauryan and Gupta periods, which were unearthed during the excavations near Sarnath.
Some of the places of tourism interest near Varanasi are Sarnath, Allahabad and Kushinagar. In Sarnath Buddha preached his way to Nirvana, after attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. The place is famous for the stupa and monuments built by the emperor Ashoka, who was a great devout of Buddhism. One can spend some leisure time in the large garden in which the Sarnath's monuments are set, and get the feeling of getting transported to the era of Buddha. Ashoka Stambh is particularly noteworthy from tourism point of view.
Kushinagar is the place famous for the Mahaparinirvana (demise or salvation) of Lord Buddha. The town has many stupas and viharas that date back to 230 BC - 413 AD. Ramabhar Stupa and Nirvana Temple are worth visiting sites. The most important site here is Mahaparinirvana Temple where you can see the reclining 20 ft. statue of Buddha. One can also find monasteries around the temple that are in ruins now.
Therefore as we can see, the ancient city of Varanasi has a lot to offer to the modern tourists who wish to see and experience the perennial nature of the spirituality of India at its best.
Last Updated On: 2011/09/02