Varanasi is one of the oldest and most sacred cities in India, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The city is famous for its numerous temples, and one of the most significant temples in Varanasi is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, which are considered to be the holiest shrines of Lord Shiva. The temple is situated on the banks of the river Ganges and is believed to have been constructed in the 18th century. The temple has undergone several renovations and reconstructions over the years due to various invasions and attacks by different rulers.
The temple has a beautiful architecture with intricate carvings and designs. The main deity of the temple is a lingam, a symbol of Lord Shiva, which is enshrined in a silver altar. The temple complex also includes several other smaller temples dedicated to various deities.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is not only a religious site but also a significant cultural and historical landmark in India. It is visited by millions of devotees and tourists every year, especially during the Hindu festival of Mahashivaratri. The temple is also known for its vibrant and bustling atmosphere with numerous shops, vendors, and sadhus (holy men) in the surrounding streets.
How to reach
Varanasi is well connected by air, rail, and road. Here are the different ways to reach Varanasi:
- By Air: Varanasi has its own airport, Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, which is well connected to major cities in India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. From the airport, you can take a taxi or a pre-paid taxi to reach the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
- By Rail: Varanasi is well connected by rail to major cities in India. The Varanasi Junction is the main railway station in the city, which is well-connected to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai. From the railway station, you can take an auto-rickshaw, a taxi, or a bus to reach the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
- By Road: Varanasi is well connected by road to major cities in India. You can take a bus or hire a taxi to reach the city. NH2, NH7, and NH29 are the major highways that connect Varanasi to other cities in India.
Once you reach Varanasi, you can take a taxi, an auto-rickshaw, or a cycle-rickshaw to reach the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The temple is located in the heart of the city and is easily accessible from all parts of Varanasi.
What does it signify?
The city of Varanasi has profound religious significance on account of its numerous temples and a number of sacred Ghats leading down to the holy Ganges. The city is also home to one of the most ancient universities in the world. It is a land of uncountable saints, hermits, scholars, and spiritual mentors. Death in this city is looked upon as a blissful event. The city is known all around for its myriad of festivals like the Ganga Mahotsav, the Kartik Purnima, the MahaShivratri, the Navratri, and the Ramleela. Kartik Purnima, a festival of lights, is celebrated at the PanchgangaGhat.
What beckons devotees?
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most popular temple in the city. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had donated one ton of gold that was used to goldplate the 15.5-meter-high spire of the temple. The temple suffered severe damages during various invasions. It was rebuilt by Rani Ahilyabai of Indore in the year 1776.
Bharat Mata Temple
The Bharat Mata Temple is dedicated to Bharat Mata or Mother India. It was the father of the nation Mahatama Gandhi who inaugurated the temple in 1936. The statue is built in marble and sand as a mark of respect to Mother India.
Tulsi Manas Temple
Another popular attraction of the city is the celebrated Tulsi Manas Temple which was erected by a philanthropist family in 1964. It is dedicated to Lord Rama and stands at the same place where Goswami Tulsidas composed the Hindu epic Ramacharitramanas that gives us an elaborate description of the history and deeds of Lord Rama.
Built-in Nagara style, the Durga Temple is one of the most ancient and most popular temples in Varanasi. It was built in the 8th century. The temple ropes in a large number of devotees from far and wide.
Ghats of Varanasi
The Ghats or the piers, leading down to the holy Ganges, are the major attraction of the city. Devotees gather in large numbers at these Ghats to take their ritual baths and to offer prayers in the temples standing on the river banks. Pilgrims offer their tributes to the rising sun every morning.
What is the best time?
The city experiences a hot and humid climate with the temperature reaching up to a maximum of 45 degrees centigrade during the summers. Winters extend from October to February. July and August are the monsoon months. The best time to visit is between the months of October and March.
Things to do
Apart from visiting the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, here are some other things to do in Varanasi:
- Take a Boat Ride on the Ganges: Varanasi is situated on the banks of the River Ganges, and a boat ride on the river is a popular activity for tourists. You can take a boat ride during sunrise or sunset to witness the beautiful views of the city.
- Attend the Ganga Aarti: The Ganga Aarti is a spiritual ceremony that takes place every evening on the banks of the River Ganges. The ceremony involves the chanting of mantras, the lighting of lamps, and the offering of flowers to the river. It is a beautiful sight to witness and is a must-see activity in Varanasi.
- Visit the Ghats: The ghats are the steps leading to the River Ganges, and there are over 80 ghats in Varanasi. Each ghat has its own significance and history, and it is worth exploring them all. The Dashashwamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, and Assi Ghat are some of the most popular ghats to visit.
- Explore the Old City: Varanasi’s old city is a labyrinth of narrow lanes, bustling markets, and ancient buildings. You can explore the old city on foot or by cycle-rickshaw and experience the unique sights, smells, and sounds of the city.
- Visit the Sarnath Archaeological Site: Sarnath is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site located just a few kilometers from Varanasi. It is where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon, and there are several temples, monasteries, and museums that you can visit to learn about the history of Buddhism.
These are just a few of the many things to do in Varanasi. The city has a rich history and culture, and there is always something new to explore and discover.
Where to Stay
Varanasi has a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Here are some of the popular areas and types of accommodation to stay in Varanasi:
- Near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple: There are several budget hotels and guesthouses near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, which is convenient if you want to be close to the temple. Some of the popular areas include Dashashwamedh Ghat, Godowlia, and Vishwanath Gali.
- Along the River Ganges: There are several luxury hotels and resorts along the River Ganges, which offer stunning views of the river and the city. Some of the popular areas include Assi Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, and Rajghat.
- Near the Varanasi Junction Railway Station: There are several budget and mid-range hotels near the Varanasi Junction Railway Station, which is convenient if you are arriving by train. Some of the popular areas include Cantonment and Sigra.
- In the Old City: The old city of Varanasi is a popular area to stay if you want to experience the local culture and explore the narrow lanes and bustling markets. There are several guesthouses and mid-range hotels in the old city, which offer a unique and authentic experience.
Some popular hotels in Varanasi include the Taj Ganges, Brij Rama Palace, Hotel Surya, and Hotel Alka. It is recommended to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak season or during festivals, to ensure availability and the best prices.