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Varanasi Wonders: Must-See Destinations in the Spiritual Heart of India

Varanasi Wonders

Overview

Varanasi, the city of lights, has been an Indian pilgrim and holy city for 3000 years. The oldest city is one of the seven holy cities of India known for providing salvation, or ‘Moksha.’ Lord Shiva founded Kashi, according to an ancient myth. The culture, food, and many spiritual places to visit in Varanasi make it the truest representation of India. Located on the Ganga’s banks, the city lights up due to the number of floating earthen lamps and people doing aartis in the evening on the river’s bank. Thus, the name ‘City of Light.

People from all around the globe come to this city, especially if they are nearing death because the legend says that ‘dying in Varanasi ensures you are free from the monotonous cycle of birth and death.’ If you are planning a trip to this beautiful and sacred city, here is a list of places to visit in Varanasi. Known for its calming Ganga aarti, Kashi is dominated by Hindus. But it welcomes and celebrates all religions here. Let’s check out the list of all the places you should visit in Varanasi on your spiritual trip here.

Best time to visit Varanasi

Winters are the best time to visit Varanasi. The months of November to February have low temperatures with a calm breeze keeping you company throughout, making these months ideal for exploration and sightseeing. Summer months are too hot for outdoor sightseeing. But if you are looking for affordable travel, go in the summer. Monsoons are ideal too with greenery all around. Though, winters are the best!

How to reach Varanasi?

  • By air: Lal Bahadur International Airport, Varanasi does not operate many international flights. However, it does operate regular domestic flights connecting many cities to Varanasi directly.
  • By road: The network of roads is good in Varanasi. You can drive down to Kashi from nearby cities like Kanpur or Gorakhpur. It connects to other major cities too through its well-maintained roads.
  • By train: Varanasi Junction railway station and Mughal Sarai Junction (18 km away from Varanasi) connect major cities in India to Varanasi.

Best Places to Visit in Varanasi- The Spiritual Heart of India

Varanasi

New Vishwanath Temple

One of the best spiritual places to visit in Varanasi is the sacred New Vishwanath Temple. Located in Banaras, Hindu University (BHU) is also known as the Birla Temple. It is an architectural marvel, with seven temples with stunning designs. Stepping into this beautiful temple, you will first see the temple of Lord Shiva.

On the first floor, the temples of Lakshmi Narayan and Durga Temple will offer you a peaceful haven. Apart from the serenity you experience here, marvel at the architecture as the temples use immaculate white marble to create a stunning exterior. The interiors of the temples have verses from the Bhagavad Gita, which is an alluring sight to witness.

Kathwala Temple

Another famous religious temple in Varanasi is the Kathwala temple, or Nepali temple, as the Nepali king Rana Bahadur Shah built it. The temple is the epitome of Nepali architecture and Kath wood. Thus, the name is Kathwali Temple. The temple has unusual sculptures in the Khajuraho style.

Dashashwamedh Ghat

Situated on the banks of the Ganga, Dashashwamedh Ghat is known for its cultural and religious significance. The tourists come here to witness the ethereal Ganga Aarti. It is a massive and spiritual ceremony where the priests conduct aarti and rituals using brass lamps and singing hymns. The timing of the aarti is usually 6:45 p.m. but will change as per the season. If you want the best view of the Ganga, go on a boat ride. The ghat is also known for people taking dips in the Ganga river to cleanse themselves.

Kashi Vishwanath, or Golden Temple

One of the most popular and sacred places to visit in Varanasi is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. A famous pilgrimage destination, the shrine’s legacy spans over 3500 years. All followers of Lord Shiva flock to this temple, as it houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. The tale of this temple’s origin is incredible. The tale says that Lord Shiva’s fiery radiance manifested in Jyotirlinga form, descending from ‘Kailash Parvat’ to this earthly location for his followers. Coming to this holy place fills you with calmness and a sense of belonging, so ensure this temple is on your list.

Tulsi Manas Temple

Honoring the incredible Indian Bhakti poet Goswami Tulsidas, this spiritual temple is a must-visit for you. The white marble and architecture of this temple will mesmerize you. Inside the walls of the beautiful temple, you will see the verses and scenes of Ramcharitmanas engraved, and its location is the same as where Tulis Das ji wrote the epic of the Ramayana. Honoring Lord Rama, it is one temple where you will find spiritual bliss and peace.

Assi Ghat

The famous Assi Ghat at the meeting point of the Ganga and Assi rivers is a must-visit. It is known for the massive Shiva Lingam near the peepal tree. It is known for its religious importance, and all the Puranas and legends talk about it. The heart of Varanasi, the Assi ghat, is near the BHU, so you will find many students here. Recently, morning aarti at the Assi ghat have captured the hearts of locals and tourists alike. Moreover, it is known for the captivating views of sunrise and sunset here. Lastly, you can take a boat ride from the Assi ghat to Dashashwamedh ghat to enjoy the stunning Ganga aarti in the evening.

Monkey Temple

A famous tourist destination and place to visit in Varanasi, the temple honors Goddess Durga, but due to the extensive population of monkeys here, it is known as the ‘Monkey Temple.’ Its Nagara-style architecture makes it an exciting pilgrimage for everyone to visit. The legend also says that the shrine of the presiding deity appeared by itself and is not man-made. If you are not a follower of Hinduism, you can see the shrine but not enter the inner sanctum.

Alamgir Mosque

Alamgir Mosque is a majestic sanctuary near the Panchganga Ghat. It overlooks the Ganges River and has a distinct charm. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb commissioned the beautiful Alamgir Mosque. A legend states that the mosque stands on the same grounds as the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It is an architectural masterpiece influenced by Hinduism and North India to blend with Islamic architecture. The mosque welcomes all with open arms and is the perfect place for you to find some solace or serenity.

Ramnagar Fort

Varanasi is also known for its many forts, having historical significance. It is situated on the eastern banks of the Ganga River, just opposite Tulsi Ghar. In the year 1750, it was built by Raja Balwant Singh with influence from Mughal architecture. There are many significant things about Ramnagar Fort, like:

  • Its architecture: The ornate design with open courtyards, pavilions, and carved balconies reflects the beautiful architecture of that era. The fort has detailed patterns and vibrant colors, adding to its grandeur. It is a must-visit for architecture lovers.
  • Ganga Aarti: The best highlight of the fort was the Ganga Aarti happening on the nearby Ramnagar ghat. Tourists and holy people flock here to see the aarti and listen to the hymns against the backdrop of the fort’s silhouette, which you can see in the ghat.
  • Vintage car rally: The fort also hosts vintage car rallies, sometimes hosting beautiful and classic cars against the regal background of the fort.
  • Heritage Museum: The fort has a well-maintained museum exhibiting a great collection of royal artifacts, antique weaponry, vintage cars, and medieval costumes. The fort is a sneak peek into the life of the then Maharajas of Varanasi.

Parsvanath Jain Temple

Varanasi, as mentioned above, welcomes all religions. Thus, another one of the best places to visit in Varanasi is the Parsvanath Jain Temple. near the Panchganga Ghat; it looks beautiful and appeals to the souls of every tourist here. Dedicated to the 23rd saint of Jainism, it is an important pilgrimage site for the community. The story surrounding the temple is that it is the place where the swayamvar of King Kashi’s daughter took place.

Manikarnika Ghat

An ancient ghat in Varanasi, Manikarnika ghat, is famous for being a cremation site. Also known as the ‘burning ghat’ due to cremation ceremonies happening here, it has a mythological significance. As per the legend, it is the same ghat where an ear ornament worn by Sati fell when Lord Shiva was carrying her to the Himalayas. Again, the legend says anyone who finds a resting place here attains moksha. There is also a pond near the ghat with Lord Vishnu’s footprint. It is an essential place for all to visit.

Conclusion

Varanasi is one of the seven holiest cities in India. It is known for being a spiritual destination where people come here to attain salvation. It is an experience of a lifetime, and everything here, from food to culture to spiritual destinations like temples and ghats, gives you ethereal vibes. With so many places to visit in Varanasi, it will surely leave an impression on your soul. The aartis, the architecture of the temples, and the vibrancy of the bazaars here will stay with you forever, and you will be compelled to come back to explore this city of lights more and more. 

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About Jill

Hi, Jill Here

Hi! I’m Jill, a Dallas, Texas girl traveling the world. After a career in the Air Force and touring over 50 countries later, my need to explore keeps going! It’s time to rock & roll and find all those places I never knew I was missing.

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