Dubbed the City of Lights or Kashi, Varanasi may be a holy town situated on the West Bank of the River Ganga. Call it the land of Shiva or just a historic city that has several mysteries concealed deep within; this holy city features a spiritual legacy that dates back to more than 3000 years.
Varanasi is a significant pilgrimage centre in India and for those visiting from outside the country, it reflects authentic India. Today, Varanasi may be a busy hub, where all winding roads look similar, ghats are always crowded and therefore the fragrance of incense and the smell of burnt firewood dissolve within the air.
The aartis and the floating of earthen lamps over the water of Ganga in the evening is also an important element of the identity of Varanasi. Apart from this, the sacred city is additionally the reflection of various architecture, from the Kings of Bengal to the Maharajas of Rajasthan; all have contributed in making Varanasi an epitome of rich Indian culture and faith.
New Vishwanath Temple
New Vishwanath Temple is a must-visit in Varanasi which is situated within the boundaries of Banaras Hindu University. The temple was constructed by the famed Birla family and hence is additionally referred to as Birla Temple. It is a temple complex which consists of seven temples.
The Shiva temple is situated on the ground floor, whereas the Durga temple and Lakshmi Narayan temple are located on the first floor. The architecture of the temple is inspired by the old Vishwanath Temple and therefore the structure is formed of white marbles. The walls of the temple are enhanced with the lines of Gita, which certainly catches the eyes of the visitors here.
This temple is legendary for its exquisite architecture and woodwork. It is believed that the temple was built by King of Nepal and thus, this shrine is additionally called Nepali Temple. It is situated within the Lalita Ghat and catches the eye of the many visitors in Varanasi. The complex wood carving is what fascinates visitants the most; the temple indicates the refined taste for good architecture taste of the rulers of Nepal.
Kashi Vishwanath/Golden Temple
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most vital place to ascertain in Varanasi. The history of this sacred shrine is often traced back to 3500 years. The temple is one among the famous Jyotirlingas, which are considered the holiest Shiva temples. The Linga is the presiding deity here and the temple is a quadrangle, surrounded by temples of other gods. The temple once had a golden tower and domes; hence it was also called the Golden Temple.
Tulsi Manas Temple
This temple is yet one more important shrine in Varanasi. Dedicated to Lord Rama, Tulsi Manas Temple is situated next to a different famed shrine called Durga Temple. It is a white-marble temple that has its walls coated with the text from Tulsi Das written Ram Charitra Manas. It is believed that the temple is found at an area where Tulsi Das wrote this famous Indian epic.
Gyan Vapi Well
Adjacent to the Vishwanathan Temple lays the traditional Gyan Vapi Well (Well of Wisdom). It is believed that the water of this well contains the linga from the first Vishwanath Temple, which was vandalized by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb within the 17th century. The Gyan Vapi mosque was built by Aurangzeb within the place where this temple was situated.
Bharat Mata Temple
This temple is one among its kinds as rather than being dedicated to any god or goddess, the temple is devoted to Bharat Mata or India (assumed as Mother). The temple is situated in Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth Campus. Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936, the temple was an inspiration for people who were fighting the war of independence. The statue within the shrine denotes mountain, plain and ocean and therefore the major highlight of the temple is that the relief map of India carved on a marble.
Alamgir mosque is famed for its elegant design and enviable location. The mosque is situated on the bank of River Ganga and enjoys a pleasant scene. Said to be built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who is believed to have demolished the old Kashi Vishwanath Temple and constructed this mosque in its place; Alamgir mosque is a fine piece of architecture. The mosque is additionally referred to as Gyanvapi mosque due to the well of an equivalent name situated close to it. One can notice the influence of North Indian or Hindu architecture during this mosque; however, most of the mosque is completed in Islam architecture.
Ramnagar Fort is located across the river beyond the Assi ghat. Built-in the 17th century, this fort has been the house to royals of Varanasi for over 400 years. It may be almost in ruins today but the palace still grasps its charm. One can still observe the decorated swords, photographs of tiger shoots and visits by the King and Queen of Belgium may be seen decorated on the wall. The Durbar Hall of the fort is turned into a museum, where many objects like palanquins and elephant howdahs are on show.