KASHI:- Created by Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati ,The city of learning, The city of temples, The city of lights,The religious capital of India, The city loved by Ganga.
After Somnath and Dwarka Yatra was complete last October 2010, I was planning for my next jyotirlinga visit nearby March 2011. Immediately there were choices for Rameswaram in (TN), Mallikarjuna in Srisailam ( AP), Omkareshwar Mahakaleshwar In ( MP) , Or Kashi in ( UP). After discussing and thinking for about 7 – 10 days with my wife we finally decided to go to Kashi.
My excitement started long before four months ago as I thought I would be visiting that Jyotirlinga whose darshan equals visiting rest of the 11 jyotirlingas. Kashi Vishwanath is said to be the King of all jyotirlingas.
Also my longing wish to just see and bath in Ganga Maiya was getting fulfilled. We had planned for 4 days for Kashi and Prayag. And after surfing google maps and increasing a day , we decided we will add Chitrakoot also……………….
I booked tickets in Dadar – Varanasi SF Express of 9th March 2011 which starts at 12.35 am from Dadar and reaches Varanasi at 4.00 am next day. I called one of my old engineering friend Mr. Nitin Chaurasia, a resident of Mumbai, but native place in Varanasi to help me find out decent hotels in Varanasi , near Kashi Vishwanath temple. He called his relatives in Varanasi and suggested me Hotel Jaipuria Bhawan. I called the owner and gave him details of trip.He said “aap aa jayeeye saahab , happy hoke jayenge”. I also told him to enquire about car to Prayag Sangam and Chitrakoot.
Travel :- I started on 8th at 10.30pm from Goregaon and reached Dadar Railway station at 12.00. My train was scheduled at 12.35am on 9th March 2011.We reached the boggie and as soon as the train started , we immediately went to our berths and slept.The next whole day was in train. We reached on 10th March 2011 at 4.00 am. We went to Hotel and took some rest before we started our tour to city.
Well there is a lot in Varanasi to a write on what I did, and if I write according to my tour everything will be jumbled , so I have segregated this into three parts .
A) Varanasi the city
B) Ganga and Ghats of Ganga
C) Kashi :- Temples , Monuments and spiritual significance
- Godowlia road near Kashi Vishwanath – heart of the city
VARANASI , The city :- Varanasi ( Kashi , Benares ) is second biggest city in Uttar Pradesh after Lucknow .It is situated on the banks of Holy Ganga and is revered holiest city in Hindus. It is among the oldest inhabited cities of the world and probably oldest in India. Proofs of city being at least 5000 years old have been found. Varanasi is older than history,older than tradition and even older than legend.It is holy for Jains and Buddhists also.
This city is situated in span of 4 kms between Assi river and Varuna river meeting Ganga hence the name Varanasi. Also it is only city to be situated only on one bank of the river.
LEGENDARY HISTORY : According to Puranas , Varanasi is created the rivers Varuna and Assi are emanated from the body of supreme person and then land between them is called Kashi. It was created by Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati before beginning of time. It is city of Traditional culture, myths and legends , centre of learning, spiritual axis and sanctified by religion and always attracted by pilgrims and tourists.
CLIMATE: – The climate is very extreme. It’s very hot from April to July, temperature goes to 45*C and in winter it goes to as low as 7*C. The rain fall is from July to September. Best time to visit is from October to March.
TRAVEL IN CITY :- is through auto rickshaw and cycle rickshaw. Auto rickshaw is quite expensive and cycle rickshaw is quite affordable.
PEOPLE:-At any given point in time there are five kinds of people in Varanasi
- Local People: – These normally do business and are happy and jolly natured.
- Foreigners: – At any time of year Varanasi is flooded with foreigners. They keenly go through our culture specially traditions related to Ganga and Manikarnika Ghat. I found them fed up with lot of touts and local people.
- Sadhus :-Different types of Sadhus are found everywhere in Varanasi like Shaivite, Shaktas and Vaishnavite Sadhus . Most of them are found near Ganga River and they live their living by begging alms.
- Pundits: – Varanasi is the place of learned pundits. These people are well versed in Sanskrit and are expert in performing right kind of puja. Many of them are found near Ganga at dashashwamedh ghat and in Kashi Vishwanath temple.
- Pilgrims: – I have been to lot of religious places, but this one has most number of pilgrims, Pilgrims from every part of India come here for darshan of this magnificient city. There is some specific time for some specific people from state. When I was there many pilgrims from Tamil Nadu were visiting in=n March.
- Touts: – Beware of these people .They are present everywhere in Varanasi.
REMEMBER: – when you are walking in the streets of Varanasi, someone is looking at you always for an opportunity so that he can loot you. So always BEWARE while walking in streets of Varanasi.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
There are lot of fairs and festivals associated with Varanasi. Some of them are
BUDDHA PURNIMA – SARNATH,RAMLEELA – RAMNAGAR,DHRUPAD MELA,HANUMAN JAYANTI,BHARAT MILAP – (AT NATI IMLI),NAKKATAYA – (AT CHETGANJ),NAG NATHAIYA,MAHASHIVRATRI,PANCH KOSHI,PARIKRAMA,GANGA MAHOTSAV
CULTURE:-We can find every sort of culture associated with Varanasi for every religion. For viewing culture you can go to Museum, kala Bhawan, Jantar Mantra and Jamnagar fort.Ragda patis
FOOD: – There are numerous food spots and a very affordable range in quality. The joints closer to the Ghats cater more to foreign tourists, with huge success. To get really authentic Banarasi food you’re going to have to get to the main market , better, to have a banarasi friend inviting you at home. Dum Aloo is a local specialty, and the city is also known for its desserts. You can’t go away from Varanasi without eating local specialities as aloo chat ,ragda patis and pani puri and, in general, the street food. Paan, a betel nut mixture usually containing tobacco is something Benares is famous for all over India. Benarasi Lassi also is very tasty and you can find on every streets of Varanasi.
BENARAS SAREES :- Varanasi is one of the rich weaving craft centre of India, famous for Brocade saris and dress material. Exclusive varieties of the saris are Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tishu, and Butidar which are made of silk warp and silk weft, on plain/satian ground base, brocaded with extra weft patterns in different layouts introducing Bells, creepers, Buttas in ground, border and anchal for getting glamours appearance.
YOGA CENTRE :_ Varanasi is biggest centre for Yoga in the world in theory as well as practice.
There are separate faculty of Yoga, Ayurveda, Meditation & Strology in B.H.U. & S.S.U. . Varanasi is the centre for Yoga, Ayurveda, Meditation & Strology. Following are main centre for Yoga, Meditation & Strology.
S.S.U. Gayan Pravah Kashi Yoga Sangh Sankat Mochan International Yoga & Meditation Centre Nagawa B.H.U.
Man Mandir Bhring Sanhita Kendra Bhadaini Centre For Yoga & Meditation Nirala Nagar Prangya Yoga Institute JagatGanj
BENARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY :- is largest residential university having 24000 students in its campus.The campus is spread around 1350 acres .It includes Institute of Technology, Faculty of Management Studies, Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Institute of Medical Sciences and is among the top three largest residential universities in the world, having more than 128 independent teaching departments.
There is a still a lot which can be told about this great city but at the moment I am taking break here. Next time I will take you to Ghats of Ganga in Varanasi.
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