Varanasi is the one of the oldest living cities in the world. For millennia Varanasi has been a magnet for the enlightened beings and spiritual seekers of India’s three ancient religious traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It was in a park near Varanasi where the Buddha preached his first sermon. Legends say that Lord Shiva, one of the three great gods of the Hindu tradition, chose Varanasi to be his home. All who die in Varanasi receive instant salvation. From time immemorial the sages of the Hindu and Jain faiths have meditated and taught on the banks of the river Ganges here. Bathing in the river Ganges is one of the most auspicious experiences of the Hindu faith. If you are planning India tours then Varanasi must visit destination.
Morning: Experience the magnificent early morning scene of hundreds of devout pilgrims wading into the cool waters of the Ganges, just as they have every morning since ancient times. Some chant and pray, while others offer the holy water of the river to the rising sun. This is one of the most unforgettable experiences one can have.
After taking in these rituals from a boat in the river, you will disembark for a short walk through the buzzing, animated lanes of Varanasi’s old city. The bazaars in these narrow passageways cater to the millions of pilgrims who come here to worship Kashi Vishwanath, the patron deity of Varanasi. The gold-covered temple where the deity resides is closed to non-Hindus, but the lanes surrounding it are a fascinating mix of commerce and faith.
Afternoon: City Tour of Varanasi: The city of Varanasi has long been a center for classical learning and culture. Visit Banaras Hindu University in the south of the city is perhaps the most prestigious university in India for philosophy and liberal arts. The Bharat Mata temple in the city testifies to Varanasi’s history as a center of India’s freedom movement. In this unique temple, consecrated to Mother India, a marble relief map of the Indian subcontinent is the focus of worship.
Evening: Varanasi’s riverbank lights up as thousands congregate to witness the aarti ceremony. Temple bells ring out and pilgrims chant and pray as a row of young Brahman priests wave flaming oil lamps in worship of the Ganges. The scene from a boat in the river is spellbinding.
Sarnath – 10 kms. from Varanasi – The Buddha preached his first sermon to five disciples in Sarnath. Today thousands of Buddhist pilgrims from around the world travel here to pay their respects. The Deer Park where Buddha preached is still dotted with ancient monuments. Visit the towering Dhamek Stupa that marks the location of a once resplendent monastery. The first monks settled this area in approximately the 3rd century B.C. Near the Dhamek Stupa is a new monastery built by the Buddhist Mahabodhi Society. Visit the archaeological museum in which the famous Sarnath pillar, whose capital forms India’s national emblem, stands intact.
Walking tour of Varanasi – You can enjoy the morning walking tour of Varanasi, on this walk explore local life in streets and Ghats of Varanasi.
So if you have not included Varanasi in your north India trip then you are missing amazing local life of Varanasi which you will not find any other places in this world.
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