Dubbed as the land of Lord Shiva, Varanasi is one of the most important pilgrimage centres for Hindu devotees. This ancient holy city lies on the western bank of River Ganga. It serves as an epitome of Indian culture, spirituality, and religious faith. This bustling, yet enchanting, city boasts of 84 serene ghats, elegant temples, historical landmarks, and other marvelous buildings. The best months to visit this tourist place are January-March and October-December.
Following is our list of 10 most visit-worthy sites in Varanasi which you will definitely love to explore:
1. Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of this holy shrine which houses one of the 12 ‘jyotirlingas’ or sacred ‘shivalings’ in India. Its massive 60-cm tall jyotirling measures 90 cm in circumference and lies enclosed in a silver altar. Maharani Ahilya Devi erected this famous Hindu temple in 1776 AD and later Maharaja Ranjit Singh donated 800 kg of gold for plating its dome and towers in 1835 AD. Only Hindus are allowed inside the inner premises of this temple. You’ll have to go through many security checks to gain entry into its premises. Use of cameras and mobile phones is prohibited here and it is mandatory to carry your passport if you’re a foreign national.
2. Dashashwamedh Ghat
Considered as the oldest ghat of this city, this spectacular city landmark lies near to the holy Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It is world-famous for its daily evening Aarti performed by a group of priests. During the Aarti, the surface of River Ganges gets illuminated with thousands of floating lighted earthen lamps left by devotees. This wonderful scene will definitely mesmerize you!
3. Panchganga Ghat
Situated on the northern side of Dashashwamedh Ghat, it is rumored to be the mythical meeting site of five holy rivers, namely, Ganga, Saraswati, Kirana, Yamuna, and Dhutpapa. It houses black-colored stone idols of each of the river goddesses and hundreds of devotees visit this place, throughout the year. You can also have a clear view of the Alamgir Mosque which lies opposite to this ghat.
4. Banaras Hindu University (BHU)
Pandit Madanmohan Malviya established this world-class university in 1916 AD. It is one of the biggest and leading universities in the world. It is also home to the beautiful Birla Temple or New Vishwanath Temple. The temple complex has 7 temples which are made of white marble-stone and their walls have textual inscriptions from the Bhagwad Gita.
5. Bharat Kala Bhavan
Set up in 1920 AD, this expansive museum is located within the BHU campus. It has a vast and impressive collection of excavated relics, antiques, paintings, sculpted figurines, attires, coins, decorative objects, and archives related to Indian history, culture, and literature.
6. Assi Ghat
This sacred ghat lies at the confluence of river Ganga and river ASI and is the southernmost ghat with religious importance. There is an enormous ‘shivaling’ placed under a Banyan tree where devotees offer their prayers. Many painters and photographers frequently throng this place to capture the beauty of this pristine ghat.
7. Manikarnika Ghat
This is the oldest cremation ghat in Lucknow and referred to as the world’s Great Cremation Ground. According to Hindu scriptures, a person attains ‘moksha’ if his or her dead body is cremated, here.
8. Scindia Ghat or Shinde Ghat
This revered ghat lies north of Manikarnika Ghat. It is home to several well-known Hindu temples of this region. These holy shrines collectively form the Siddha Kshetra or ‘Field of Fulfillment’. Another added attraction is its partially-submerged Shiva temple that will leave you gaping in wonder!
9. Ramnagar Fort
Erected by Raja Balwant Singh in 1750 AD, this fort served as the official residence of the royal family of Varanasi. This historical structure is made of red sandstone and some of its parts now lie in ruins. Its Durbar hall now functions as a museum where the royal antique items and photographs are the major attractions. You can have a look at bejeweled swords, guns, royal palanquins, vintage cars, old photographs, antiquated clocks, and gilded howdahs.
10. Kaathala Temple or Nepali Temple
Built by the King of Nepal, this unique temple is entirely made of wood including its sculptures, columns, and idols. Located on the Lalita Ghat, this magnificent temple with its intricately-designed woodwork draws large number of sightseers all year around. It is believed that the wood used for its construction was brought from Nepal and is resistant to termite attacks.
Apart from these highly popular tourist hotspots, there are many other interesting places which you will surely love to visit such as Durga Temple. This temple is situated nearby Durga Ghat and has a massive idol of Goddess Durga. Due to large number of monkeys present at this place, the local residents have nicknamed it as the Monkey Temple. You can also travel to the cantonment area to visit St. Mary’s Church. It is an old Protestant Church which sprawls across 11.25 acres of land. Built in 1810 AD this enchanting church also has historical significance.