Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple is a major sacred attraction, dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city. The temple houses a Shivalinga, which is said to be one amongst the twelve Jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light, by which Lord Shiva beckoned his divine supremacy, broke through the earth’s crust and gleamed towards the heaven.  The present temple was built by Rani Ahailya Bai Holkar of Indore in the year 1776, however, Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple was existent even before the present one. About 800 kg of gold being used to cap the spire by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, hence it is also known as the Golden Temple in Varanasi. The temple has been built and re-built several times over the past centuries. The temple derives its name from Kashi, another name for Varanasi. This tirth also finds mention in old religious texts like Skanda Purana. The devotional atmosphere here is almost palpable. For the pilgrim who may have travelled thousand miles, the sanctity of the temple is only heightened by the teeming crowds, chanting of mantras and the continuous ringing of bells. Within the courtyard stands many smaller shrines, and a 2.1 metre high figure of Shiva’s bull, Nandi. The aarti held here is one of the most overwhelming experiences you can have on your trip to Varanasi. 

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Man Mahal Ghat

Man Mahal Ghat was built in 1600 by Maharaja Man Singh of Amer along with a palace known for the magnificent building with exquisite ornate window carvings and also for an observatory on the roof. The observatory at Man Mahal Ghat was built by Savai Jai Singh II in 1710. It displays huge instruments made from stone, once used to study the movement of sun, moon, star and other planetary bodies. Jantar Mantar is the highlight of the observatory which is similar to the Jantar Mantar located in Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain and Mathura. There is a fine stone balcony in the northern part of the Ghat. Devotees pay homage here to the lingam of Someswar, the Lord of the Moon. Dom Raja’s house is next door, with painted tigers flanking the terrace. Dom’s services are invaluable for the dead to be released from their physical bounds and so the leader of the Doms is bestowed with the honorific title of Raja or King. Man Mahal Ghat is located close to Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple and very close to Dashashwamedha Ghat at the bank of River Ganga. You can reach Man Mahal Ghat through Godowlia. Godowlia can be reached by car, auto rickshaw etc. Since no vehicles are allowed beyond Godowlia so you need to take up a 5 minute walk to reach Man Mahal Ghat.

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Kal Bhairav Temple

The temple is dedicated to Lord Kaal Bhairav, who is known as the 'Kotwal of Varanasi' (protector of Varanasi), it is said that without his permission no one can stay in Kashi. Bhairav is considered a fearsome manifestation of Lord Shiva who wears a garland of skulls and carries a club of peacock feathers. The name Kaal Bhairav means both Death and Fate. Even Death, it is said, is afraid of Kaal Bhairav. The door of the temple is guarded by Bhairav's mount, the dog, through which there is a fine courtyard. In the centre of the courtyard, there is the main shrine of Bhairav. His silver face, garlanded with flowers, can be seen through the doorway of inner sanctum, while the rest of the idol is said to be holding a trident, seated upon a dog, hidden behind a cloth drapery. This temple was a spiritual centre in Kashi for many centuries for the utmost of Shiva ascetics. An important temple of Varanasi, it is much revered by those who live under its influence in the surrounding Kotwalpuri section of the city. It is believed if Kal Bhairav gets angry on someone, the person cannot leave Varanasi for his entire life. People who go on pilgrimage visit to Varanasi, never miss to explore the Kaal Bhairava Temple.

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Nepali Mandir

Nepali temple is situated at Lalita Ghat, and was constructed in the 19th century A.D by the late King of Nepal. The temple features a blend of intricate woodwork and red hued concrete which are brought from Nepal. This temple houses a widow’s ashram. A small Nandi statue sits outside the main sanctum, which houses the Pashupathinath Mahadev Lingam. Nepali Temple is one of the oldest Shiva Temples in Varanasi. King of Nepal, Rana Bahadur Shah took exile in Varanasi from 1800 AD to 1804 AD and titled himself as "Swami Nirgunanda". During his exile, he decided to build a replica of Pashupatinath Temple in Varanasi. Construction of the temple commenced during his exile / stay in Varanasi. During the construction, Shah moved back to Nepal. On 25th April 1806, Rana Bahadur Shah was stabbed to death by his step-brother, Sher Bahadur Shah. His son Girvan Yuddha Bikram Shah Deva completed the project 20 years after the deadline. The land was later transferred to Rana Bahadur Shah by Kashi Naresh in the year 1843.

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Lalita Ghat

Lalita Ghat is named after the most renowned Goddess of the city, Goddess Lalita. There are variety of rituals and beliefs of the people about the Goddess Lalita Devi (embodiment of the Goddess Durga) who blessed the entire world. This Ghat is one of the most venerated Ghats of the Kashi for devotees from various corners of the country it is one of the main Ghats on the Ganga River in Varanasi. The Ghat is named after Hindu Goddess Lalita and was built in early 19th century by King of Nepal, Rana Bahadur Shah. The Ghat houses the famous Nepali Mandir and Lalita Gauri Mandir. Lalita Ghat, renowned for its Ganga Keshava shrine of Vishnu and the Nepali temple, a typical Kathmandu-style wooden temple which houses an image of Pashupateshvara – Shiva’s manifestation at Pashupatinath in Nepal – and sports a small selection of erotic carvings. This Ghat is dotted with several temples. The well-known 'lingam' of Ganga Keshav and shrines of Gangatitya, Kashi Devi, Lalita Devi and Bhagirath Tirtha are affiliated to Lalita Ghat.  

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Alamgir Mosque

The Alamgir Mosque is a worthwhile attraction. Adjacent to the sacred River Ganga, it oversees the Panch Ganga Ghat. The masjid exhibits influential architectural skills. It is a fine example of what can be achieved if Hindu and Mughal styles of architecture are beautifully blended. The Hindu style of artistry is more noticeable in the lower portions and the enclosure walls of the mosque, whereas in the rest of the mosque the Muslim effect is far more obvious. Located at the Panch Ganga Ghat, this mosque is also known as Beni Madhav Ka Dera. It was originally established by Aurangzeb. The exquisite design of this mosque indicates the rich artworks of ancient India.

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Durga Temple

Durga temple, also known as the Monkey temple (because of the presence of huge number of monkeys), is located adjacent to Durga Kund. The temple is dedicated to the Goddess Durga and was built in the 18th century. The temple was constructed by a Bengali Maharani in the north Indian Style with multi-tiered shikhara. An attractive pond known as the Durga Kund is built on the right side of the temple which was earlier connected to river Ganga. The statue of Goddess Durga is not human made; it is believed to have appeared on its own in the temple. During the times of Navratri, a large number of Hindu devotees visit this temple. This temple is constructed in square shape with the red colour stone representing the colour of Goddess Durga. The temple lies in the south of the city, away from the Ghats. The approach is easy flanked by flower and puja paraphernalia vendors. The energy of the temple is palpable. It is considered that Goddess Durga always protects the Varanasi from problems.

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Sankat Mochan Temple

The Sankat Mochan Temple is one of the oldest temples in the city dedicated to Lord Hanuman. It is situated on the banks of Pauranic River Assi. Goswamiji has specifically named the deity "Sankat Mochan" which means reliever from troubles. In the temple, "besan ke laddoo" are served as an offering to Lord Hanuman and his idol is decked with a pleasant marigold flower garland. This temple has the unique distinction of having Lord Hanuman facing his Lord Rama, whom he worshiped with steadfast and selfless devotion. It is said that Tulsidas wrote Ramcharitmanas here. According to Hindu mythology, one who visits the Sankat Mochan temple regularly gets their wishes fulfilled. It is considered that the temple was built from the time when Goswami Tulsidas had a vision of the Lord Hanuman. The temple was established by the great saint Goswami Tulsidas.

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Tulsi Manas Mandir

Built in 1964 the Tulsi Manas Mandir is one of the most famous temples in Varanasi. It is made up of white marble and the beautiful garden adds to its attractiveness. The temple is dedicated to the Lord Rama and was constructed by the Sureka family of Banaras. The temple has beautiful images of the Lord Ram, Mother Sita, Lakshman and Lord Hanuman. The wall of the temple has various scenes depicted from the epic Ramcharitmanasa. There is a museum in the premises which has a rare collection of manuscripts of the Ramayana and other artefacts. 

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Assi Ghat

According to the ancient history, it is said that the Goddess Durga (consort of the Lord Shiva) had thrown her sword in the river (called Assi River) after killing the demon Shumbha-Nishumbha. Assi Ghat is described in the Kashi Khand as “Assi Saimbeda Tirtha” means the one who gets a dip here once in his life will get punya (blessings) of all the Tirthas (religious places of the Hindu). Generally Hindu pilgrims gather to take a holy dip here in the Chaitra (month of March/April) and Magh (month of Jan/Feb) as well as some other significant events like solar/lunar eclipse, Probodhoni Ekadashi and Makar Sankranti. At this Ghat, a huge Shiva lingam is situated under the Peepal tree where pilgrims offer Jal and worship after taking holy bath in the Ganga water. Another Shiva Lingam is - Asisangameshwar lingam, in a small temple of the marble near to the Assi Ghat. The Ghat has been also described in the ancient Hindu literatures like the Matsya purana, Kurma purana, Padma Purana, Agni purana and Kashi khanda.

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Sant Kabir Math

Varanasi is also the birthplace of Saint Kabir Das. Thus, this city is home to ‘Kabir Math’, which was built in honour of Saint Kabir. It is located in the Kabir Chaura locality and houses paintings depicting the life-events of the saint, which are worth seeing.

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Lahartara Sarovar (lake)

Located at 3 KM from Cantt. Railway Station on Varanasi-Allahabad route, it is the Udbhav Sthal of the great Saint Kabir. An old temple built in the proximity of lake is worth a visit. 

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Kedar Ghat

On the Sonarpura road is the narrow Kedar Gali leading to Kedar Ghat. The ancient temple of Kedareshwara is especially revered by Pilgrims from South India. 

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The ever burning Ghats

Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghats are where you can witness the ritual of cremation from a respectful distance, giving a lifetime experience. Harishchandra Ghat is a cremation Ghat, named after the legendary king Harishchandra who is said to have lost everything in desire for self-abnegation, a king who kept honesty above everything and was reduced to work as a Dom or scavenger at the cremation ground. People in this part of the city believe that this is the oldest cremation ground in Varanasi, surpassing even Manikarnika Ghat in its, sanctity. A narrow gali from the chowk, leads you to Manikarnika, the most significant cremation Ghat of Varanasi. Hundreds of mourners and professional pall-bearers go along the alley carrying dead bodies. Guides at Manikarnika Ghat will show you the Chakrakund, a holy pool, where Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are said to have bathe together. Here, one can also explore the Shamshaneshwar and Kaaleshwar Mahadev Temples, and the eternal fire that has been burning here for over 3000 years. Till today, this Ghat remains wreathed in smoke.

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Ram Nagar Fort & Museum

Located on the eastern bank of River Ganga, Ram Nagar Fort is a beautiful place to witness the sunset over the river. It is an 18th-century structure built by Maharaja Balwant Singh and is the ancestral home of Maharaja of Banaras. The fort is built in red sandstone. It houses a temple dedicated to Ved Vyasa, writer of Mahabharata, the great Indian epic.  The Fort includes an eccentric museum boasting a royal collection of vintage cars, swords, palanquins, ivory works, an old weaponry section and an extremely unusual astrological clock. It also treasures manuscripts, especially religious writings, along with precious handwritten manuscripts by Goswami Tulsidas. Many books illustrated in the Mughal miniatures style, with beautifully designed covers are also a part of the collection. There are five hundred and thirty-five illustrations expressing Islamic ethos, each having a decorative border with ornate floral designs or cartouches. The Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman Temple also located in it. Inside the giant walls of the Ram Nagar fort-palace, there is a big clock. This clock not only displays year, month, week and day but also astronomical facts about the sun, moon and constellation of stars. Owing to its rich cultural heritage, the fort has emerged as a prominent shooting destination for numerous Indian film makers. The Fort is popular for its grand extravagant festivity of annual Dussehra festival, when the palace is adorned impressively and comes alive with colour and life.

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Banarasi Paan

It is known worldwide for its deliciously refreshing taste. The origins of this Paan go back to more than 5000 years ago, as Lord Krishna is said to have savoured it quite regularly. Paan is usually taken as a breath freshener after having a meal, however the irresistible flavour of Banarasi Paan makes it suitable for any time of the day. The Paan prepared here reflects the creativity of its makers and the legendary recipe they have been taking forward since centuries.  

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Jain Shrines

Jainism in Uttar Pradesh

The Jain literature refers to Kashi or Varanasi as a Jain Tirtha (Holy Place), as four of the Jain Tirthankara’s were born in Varanasi. According to Jain tradition, Varanasi is the birthplace of Sri Suparshavanath, Sri Chandraprabhu, Sri Sreyansnath and Parshavanath -- the 7th, 8th, 11th, and 23rd Jain Tirthankaras.


Sri Suparshavanath

Sri Suparshavanath was born in “Bhadaini” which is situated on the banks of River Ganges in Varanasi. Also known as “Jain Ghat” this place is about 1.5 km away from Bhelupura. Sri Suparshavanath was the 7th Jain Tīrthankara who was born to King Pratistha and Queen Prithvi at Varanasi on the 12th Jestha Shukla in the Ikshvaku clan. This makes the “Bhadaini” very sacred not just because Sri Suparshavanath was born here, but also because he took Diksha and was enlightened with true knowledge here. It is also said that he attained moksha at Sikharji on the sixth day of the dark half (Krishna Paksha) of the Hindi month of 'Phalguna'.  At present, there is a white colored idol placed and worshiped by the believers of Shwetambar sect. On the other hand, a black idol is placed by the believers of Digambar sect. The Dharamshalas of Shwetambars and Digambars is also present in this area.

 

Sri Chandraprabhu

Sri Chandraprabhu the 8th Jain Tirthankara was born in Chandrapuri, a town which is located on the banks of River Ganges, about 20 km away from Varanasi. Sri Chandraprabhu was born to King Mahasena and Queen Lakshmana Devi of the Ikshvaku dynasty. According to Jain texts, his birth-date was the 12th day of the 'Paush' Krishna month of the Indian calendar. Chandrapuri has a white idol which is worshiped by a majority of the Shwetambars. Lord Chandraprabhu took Jain Diksha (initiation) and got the light of true knowledge at this place. He is said to have become a Siddha (a liberated soul).


Sri Shreyansnath

Sri Sreyansnath the 11th Tirthankara of Jain Religion was born at Singhpuri, which is near Sarnath in Ikshvaku Dynasty. According to Jain beliefs, it is said, he became a Siddha, a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma.Lord Sreyansnath was born to King Vishnu and Queen Vishnudri Devi of Ikshvaku Dynasty. His birth date was the twelfth day of the 'Falgun' Krishna month of the Indian calendar.

 

Sri Parshavanath

Sri Parshavnath the 23rd Tirthankara of Jain religion was born in Bhelupura. He is the earliest Jain Tirthankara who is generally acknowledged as a historical figure. Bhelupura has a white and a black idol. Sri Parshavanath is credited with starting the tradition of "four fold restraints" for monks – don't kill, don't steal, don't lie and don't own property.

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