Varanasi - A city older than times!!!

#1 Feb 7th, 2018, 11:28
Sukumar Manna (Chala jata hun kisi ki dhun mein)
Join Date:
Feb 2014
  • travelmanna is offline
Author Mark Twain wrote in 1897 of Varanasi, "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together."
According to legend, Varanasi was founded by the god Shiva. There happened a fight between the two supreme gods, Brahma and Shiva, and the succeeding combat resulted in one of the five heads of Brahma being torn off by Shiva. It was a custom of the time that the victor carried the slain adversary’s head in his hand and let it hang down from his hand as an act of ignominy and a sign of his own bravery. A bridle was also put into the mouth. Shiva thus dishonored Brahma's head, and kept it with him at all times. When he came to the city of Varanasi in this state, the hanging head of Brahma dropped from Shiva's hand and disappeared in the ground. The land of Varanasi is therefore considered an extremely holy religious site.
The Pandavas, the protagonists of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, are said to have visited the city in search of Shiva to atone for their sin of fratricide and Brāhmanahatya that they had committed during the climactic Kurukshetra War. It is regarded as one of seven holy cities (Sapta Puri) which can provide Moksha; Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi,Kanchi, Avanti, and Dvārakā are the seven cities known as the givers of liberation.
Buddha is believed to have founded Buddhism here around 528 BCE when he gave his first sermon, "The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma", at nearby Sarnath.
Tulsidas wrote his epic poem on Rama's life called Ram Charit Manas in Varanasi. Several other major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi, including Kabir and Ravidas. Guru Nanak visited Varanasi for Maha Shivaratri in 1507, a trip that played a large role in the founding of Sikhism.
Source: Internet
So, that’s the history of Varanasi.

The day 23/12/2017 was my daughters last day in school before the Christmas. It was the year ending time; schools were closed for winter vacation and attendance in offices was also less. It is the perfect time for holidays. We packed everything including electric kettle along with a thermo flask for drinking hot water during our travel days. We started on 24/12/2017 from Kolkata by chanting “DUGGA DUGGA”. “DUGGA DUGGA” is goddess “DURGA”. Vibhuti Exp. departed from Howrah at right time. After some time, TTE came, checked tickets. We were waiting for this only. Immediately, we unfolded our home made food packets; roti with chicken curry, and in the last “Sondesh( সন্দেশ) – a Bengali sweet made by Chana/paneer etc.” So, dinner was over. We relaxed a bit & after some time, we slept.

25/12/2017: We reached Varanasi at around 09:45 A.M. It was a beautiful morning in Varanasi. We hired one auto rickshaw @Rs. 150/- to drop us at Hotel Divine Destination. I booked this hotel through Make My trip. Distance from the Rly. Station is almost 5 KM. We checked into the hotel and allotted our room without any problem. It was a good hotel; room/toilet is clean but small in size. Geyser was working nicely which was needed the most in this time. Location of this hotel is also very good. It is easily accessible by auto rickshaw, car etc. The distance of the Kashi Vishwanath temple from the hotel is less than 1 km & Godowlia crossing is 350 meter only. Famous Dashashwamedh ghat is apprx. 800 meters from the hotel. Had food from the Oasis restaurant located in 6th floor. Food was tasty but price is on the little bit higher side. After the lunch and little bit rest, we headed for Dashashwamedh ghat for boat riding and Ganga Arati. As we all know, Dashashwamedh ghat is the most auspicious and important ghat amongst 84 other ghats of Varanasi. It is always crowded with tourists, pilgrims. Lots of religious activities use to be carrying out here in this Dashashwamedh ghat. Two mythological Hindu legends are associated with Dashashwamedh ghat; one, Lord Brahma created it to welcome Lord Shiva. According to another legend, Lord Brahma sacrificed ten horses (Dashashwamedh) during Dasa-Ashwamedha yajna performed here. It was not very cold in Varanasi. We hired one row boat and accommodated ourselves there. The boatman took us towards the Assi ghat side then towards the Manikarnika ghat side. The boatman was quite knowledgeable as far as the history of the ghats is concerned & was telling the stories of the various ghats. Here, the river Ganga is not very wide may be 250 meter. It was 06:00 P.M. and the time for famous Ganga Arati. We requested our boatmen to go near to the Dashashwamedh ghat. Within few minutes, we reached there. After some time, Arati started by blowing a conch shell. 7 priests were performing the Arati. First they perform with incense stick and powder then by large flaming Arati lamps. Co-ordination between them was excellent. In the background, song related to mother Ganga was going on. It was almost one hour duration. I found the whole atmosphere very sacred, serene and magical.Arati start time in Winter is 06:00 P.M. and Summer is 07:00 P.M. It was a wonderful experience and one must watch and experience it while visiting Varanasi. We returned from the ghat and had rabri, dudh malaiyo (sweet dish made of milk) from a shop and chat from Kashi chat bhandar. It was very delicious and now, while writing, water is coming out of my mouth. We retuned back to our hotel. Our stomach was half full, so, we ordered less food and had that.

Varanasi ghats in night
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Evening Arati at Dashashwamedh ghat
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26/12/2017: Today, we woke up early for to visit Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Since mobiles, cameras, leather belts were not allowed to take inside the temple premises, we kept those in our hotel room and proceed towards the temple. As we all know that Kashi Vishwanath Templeis one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples.By 08:00 A.M., our darshan as over & returned back to hotel. We had our breakfast and proceed for site seeing. First, we went to Durga mandir. It is a small beautiful red colour painted mandir near a pond or kund called Durgakund. Then, we walked down up to Tulsi Manas Mandir which is located very near to Durga mandir may be 200 meters only. It was nicely maintained. It is said that the ancient Hindu epic Ramcharitmanas was originally written at this place by Hindu poet, saint, reformer and philosopher Goswami Tulsidas in the 16th century for the understanding of the common man. Constructed in white marble by Birlas in 1964, this temple’s walls are embedded with verses and scenes from the “Ramayana”.

Tulsi Manas Mandir
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From here, we moved to Sankat Mochan temple. It is believed that the temple has been built on the very spot where Tulsidas had a vision of Hanuman. Here also, mobiles, cameras, leather belts were not allowed to take inside the temple, so, we kept these things in our car. Since, it was a Tuesday, there was a heavy rush inside the temple and people were standing in long queues for darshan and puja. We didn’t stand in the queue, made a darshan from a distance and came out of the temple.Next, we moved to Shree Vishwanath temple or new Vishwanath temple or Birla temple in BHU campus. Kashi Vishwanath Temple was attacked and destroyed many times by several Muslim rulers. So, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya founder of BHU, planned to replicate Shri Kashi Vishwanath Mandir in the campus of BHU. The Birla family undertook the construction and foundation was laid in March 1931 and finally completed in 1966.The temple is one of the tallest in India and its tower (Shikhara) is the tallest in the world. Total height of the temple is 77 meters (253 feet) and is made mostly of marble. Beautiful atmosphere inside the temple premises, clean and nicely maintained.

Kashi Vishwanath Mandir in the campus of BHU
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Again, it’s time to move. We proceed towards the Ramnagar fort. It is the ancestral home of the Maharaja of Varanasi. It was constructed with creamy coloured chunar sandstone in typical Mughal style of architecture by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh in 1750. It has a museum that displays vintage cars, royal palkies, swords, guns etc. but very poorly maintained. There is dust everywhere over these artifacts and looks like not been cleaned for several months. It is the best example of utter negligence. Authorities should be ashamed of themselves and try to learn from the forts in Rajasthan for its maintenance.

Ramnagar fort
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After this, we had our lunch and proceed towards Sarnath. Sarnath is 12 kilometres from Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges and the Varuna rivers. It is one of the famous Buddhist pilgrimage centers. It is believed that after attaining the Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, it was here that Lord Buddha preached his first sermon. A peaceful and serene place, ideal for meditation.

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Chaukhandi stupa, Sarnath
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With this, our day’s activity concluded and we returned back to our hotel. It took almost 8 hours to visit all these places.

27/12/2017: We were relaxed today since our train is in the evening. After having breakfast, we headed towards Dashashwamedh ghat. We hired a row boat and started to explore the ghats again. The boatman took us to the other side of the river Ganga then to the various ghats. It was a beautiful view of the ghats from the boat. Lots of seagulls were flying over the river Ganga. Many tourists were feeding them. We also purchased some food and started to feed them. It was a beautiful view and children were enjoying much. We also saw the Ratneshwar Mahadev temple or the Leaning Temple near the Manikarnika Ghat (the Burning Ghat).

Ratneshwar Mahadev temple or the Leaning Temple
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Black headed gulls swimming in river Ganga
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After one hour, we got down from the boat and returned back to hotel. Our check out time was 11:00 A.M. Since, our train for Agra was at 05:25 P.M., we requested the hotel to allow us to stay for few hours more and they accepted it. After finishing our lunch, we proceed towards the Varanasi rly. Station. Instead of 05:25 P.M, our train departed from Varanasi at 08:30 P.M.
#2 Feb 7th, 2018, 11:35
Join Date:
Mar 2012
Sydney, Australia
  • Govindpuri is offline
Nice one Sukumar. Varanasi is indeed a magical city.
#3 Feb 10th, 2018, 19:03
Join Date:
Mar 2011
Northern NJ
  • Pani Puri is offline
Very nice. Thanks for sharing! We were also in the boat for evening Aarti and the one thing that really sticks out were all the bats flying around my head! It was almost too distracting for me. Next time I might watch from land for a different perspective (and no bats!). I felt the same way as you did about Ramnagar. It should be taken better care of! We enjoyed Sarnath. Did you get a chance to go to the museum? I really enjoyed it.
#4 Feb 10th, 2018, 19:14
Join Date:
Aug 2006
  • nycank is offline
Bah ! Besh...Mark Twain wrote well ! You could too if you broke it down to decent paragraphs !

I'm having buffer-overfull !
#5 Feb 10th, 2018, 19:19
Join Date:
Mar 2011
Northern NJ
  • Pani Puri is offline
Originally Posted by nycank View Post Bah ! Besh...Mark Twain wrote well ! You could too if you broke it down to decent paragraphs !

I'm having buffer-overfull !
Hurt my eyes.
#6 Feb 12th, 2018, 10:12
Join Date:
Sep 2001
Land that shakes and bakes.
  • edwardseco is offline
I read one book on the city delightfully recommended by one of our past posters that said the Muslim invaders leveled the city. India wise it can't be too old although I have seen HYD airport look ancient after only 5 years..

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