VARANASI FACTS & FIGURES
- Location: North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, India
- Best time to Visit: October to March
- Significance: Tulsidas wrote his Ramcaritmanas here and Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath near Kashi. Benarasi mithais (sweets) and the Benarasi paan (betel leaf).
Varanasi, also known as Benares, Banaras, or Benaras or Kashi or Kasi, is a famous Hindu holy city situated on the banks of the river Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, dating back thousands of years and contemporaneous with the Sumer civilisation.The city is called Kasi, “the luminous” in the Rigveda. It is often also referred to as “city of temples and learning.”
The culture of Varanasi is deeply associated with the river Ganga and the river’s religious importance. The city has been a cultural and religious center in northern India for thousands of years. Varanasi has its own style of classical Hindustani music, and has produced prominent philosophers, poets, writers and musicians in Indian history, including Kabir, Ravi Das, Munshi Premchand, Jaishankar Prasad, Acharya Ram Chandra Shukla, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Hariprasad Chaurasia and Ustad Bismillah Khan. Varanasi is the home of Banaras Hindu University.
The city finds mention in the great epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. It was already an old city when Rome was founded, and was a flourishing center of trade when Buddha came to Sarnath, some 10 km away, to preach his first sermon in 500 BC. It is a city of temples and for more than 2,500 years, it has attracted pilgrims from near and far. According to Hindu belief, Benaras or Varanasi as it is known, is the cosmic center of the Universe. The renowned American novelist Mark Twain once wrote, “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”
Pilgrim/Tourist Attractions in Varanasi
Bharat Kala Museum
The Kashi Hindu university has a museum which has a very rich collection of precious and rare historical artifacts, statues, pictures, paintings and manuscripts. This small but very well maintained museum gives an over view of the ancient city of Varanasi.
Ram Nagar Durg
2 kms from the Kashi Hindu university, across the Ganges is located the ancestral house in the fort which was built by the former rulers of Kashi. In one of the sections of the fort is the museum which displays the royalty which was once part of the kingdom. This museum gives an insight into the grandeur which once prevailed in the fort. On the Ramnagar Pandav road is a beautiful Durga temple. This temple has very delicate and intricate carving done on stone. These carvings are worth giving a look.
Benaras Hindu University
This is the largest and oldest university in north India. Spread over an area of 2,000 acres, this great place of education was established by Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya. Today the campus has faculties of Arts, Science, Music, Sanskrit, Languages, Engineering, Statistics and Medical to name a few of them. The university also has the huge Vishwanath temple which was built and maintained by the Birla family. The Sunderlal Medical center has all the modern facilities of medical field is also located in the university campus.
Nandeshwari Kothi, designed by James Prinsep is a typical building of the early 19th century in Benaras.
Jantar Mantar – The ruler of Jaisingh built an observatory in Varanasi in line with those built in Delhi, Mathura, Ujjain and Jaipur observatories. The Varanasi observatory has all the instruments which were required to record the motion , speed and properties of various stars and planets and other cosmic objects. The observatory was built in 1600 and still the instruments give the exact measurements which can match any modern instrument.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
The festive magic never ends in Varanasi. If Poornima cleanses, Maha Shivratri blesses. If Holika-Dahan is a celebration, Dhrupad Mela is a revelation…. One does not require making his itinerary according to the dates and months of the festivals. One can come and enjoy the festive season anytime of the year here.
How to Reach Varanasi
- Varanasi has its own airport that is 22 Kms from the city.
- The Babatpur airport connects Varanasi with all the major cities in India.
- The nearby Mughal Sarai railway Junction is one of the major railway junction in the region with almost all the trains from the East, North East and some trains for South and Western region crossing the station.
- Varanasi is on the national highway No.2 from Calcutta to Delhi.
- Varanasi offers a good starting point for visiting Khajuraho.