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Varanasi - Quick Facts

Area: 3131 sq. km.
Population: 1201815
Altitude: 80.71 mts
Season: October to March
Clothing: Summer- Light cotton, Winter- woolen
Rainfall: 12.0 to 690.0 (mm)
Language: Hindi & English

Varanasi has been the religious capital of Hinduism since times immemorial. It was previously known as Kashi - the city that illuminates. The present name is probably derived from the fact that the city is situated at the confluence of the rivers Varuna & Agra. As a place of devotion & worship, with hundreds of temples doting the city, Varanasi attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. Many Hindus in the latter part wish to spend their retirement here.

By Air
Airport is 22 km from Varanasi.

By Rail
 Varanasi is connected with important cities by rail.

By Road
 Varanasi are: 565 km Agra, Allahabad-128 km, Bhopal-791 km, Bodhgaya-240 km, Kanpur-330 km, Khajuraho-405 km, Lucknow-286 km, Patna-246 km, Sarnath-119 km.

River Front
The Spectacular 4-km sweep of the Ghats is a unique sight, best viewd at dawn, in that "soft first light" when the river and Ghats have a timeles appeal. Life in almost panoramic details unfolds here from dawn to dusk as a steady stream of devotees-swelling to thousands of auspicious days-perform rituals by the Ganga. The Ghats are best approached by Dashashwemdha Ghat, where boats are available on hire.

The Kashi Vishawanath Temple
Also known as the Golden Temples, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city. Varanasi is said to be the point at which the first jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested his supremacy over other gods, broke through the earth's crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalingha installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varanasi. It is open only to Hindus.

Gyanvapi Mosque
The Gyanvapi Mosque was raised by Auranzeb near the present Vishawanath Temple or the Golden Temple.

Durga Temple
Commanly called the 'Monkey Temple’; it was built in the 18th century. Although it is one of the best known temples, it is open only to Hindus. Beware of the monkeys here who are daring and menacing.

Tulsi Manas Temple
Constructed by a family of Varanasi, this modern temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. It is situated at the place where Tulsidas, the great medieval seer, lived and wrote the epic "Shri Ramcharitmanas", which narrates the life of Lord Rama, the hero of the Ramayana. Verses from Tulsidas's epic are inscriibed on the walls.

Bharat Kala Bhawan (Banaras Hindu University)
A Short rickshaw ride from the Durga temple is the Banaras Hindu University, one of the oldest educational centres in India. Founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya as a centre for the study of Indian art, culture, music and also for Sanskrit, it has developed into a modern academic centre of various desciplines. Within the campus is the finest collection of Mughal maniature paintings and brocade textiles. Open 10.30 A.M. to 4.30 P.M.

New Vishawanath Temple
Situated in the premisis of Banaras Hindu University, a modern place of worship planned by Pandit Malviya and built by the Birlas. Open to all, irrespective of caste or creed.

Alamgir Mosque
An amalgamation of Hindu-Muslim religious sentiments, this mosque is also known as "Beni Madhav ka Darera". Curiously, the entire lower portion of the mosque is retained as a Hindu temple.

Ram Nagar Fort and Museum
A 17th-century fort, Ram Nagar is the home of the Maharaja of Banaras, who is revered as the representative of Shiva in the city. The museum's collection includes interesting vintage silver and brocade palanquins, howdahs, a replica of the royal bed and an armoury of swords and guns. (Open 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.). Ramnagar is also very famous for its Ram Lila.

The Fort of Chunar
39 km. away in the Mirzapur district, famous for its ties with Sher Shah Suri who dethroned Humayun in the 16th century. Car's cover distance in 1.5-2 hours. Taxi's charge is Rs. 750 for the up-down trip. Better to retun to Varanasi by evening.

58 km. was once an important Muslim centre where art and architecture found patronage. Today it is known for its perfumes and incense.

(Area-2.80 sq Kms) Sarnath is about 10 km away from Varanasi where Buddha preached his first sermon after he had attained enlightenment at Bodhgaya. A lot has changed since then but the ancient aura is still retained in the ruins and gardens sen here. More important, at the museum in Sarnath is the Ashok Pillar with its four guardian lions that has been used as independent India's national emblem. Sarnath must be visited for the tranquillity that is its hallmark. Also situated here is the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. and leather shoes.

Silk weaving is perhaps the most popular art of Varanasi and Banarasi silk sarees form an indispensable part of an Indian bride's trousseau. The world-famous gold and silver brocades and richly worked saris are known to have passed on from generations to generations much like family jewels without loosing their charm. Besides Banarasi saris and brocades, you may look for wonderful pieces of brassware, copperware, wooden and clay toys and antique designs of heavy gold jewellery in Varanasi.

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