Varanasi has been a cultural centre of northern India for several thousand years, and is closely associated with the Ganges. Hindus believe that dying here and getting cremated along the banks of the "holy" Ganges river allows one to break the cycle of rebirth and attain salvation, making it a major center for pilgrimage. The city is known worldwide for its many ghats, embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions. Of particular note are the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Panchganga Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat, the last two being where Hindus cremate their dead and the Hindu genealogy registers at Varanasi are kept here.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The Temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva Temples. Varanasi city is also called Kashi in ancient time, and hence the Temple is popularly called as Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Etymology of the name Vishveshvara is Vishva: Universe, Isha: Lord; Vara: Excellent means Supreme Lord of the Universe the Parabrahman or Parameshwara as its synonyms.
Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main ghat in Varanasi on the Ganga River. It is located close to Vishwanath Temple and is probably the most spectacular ghat. Two Hindu legends are associated with it: According to one, Lord Brahma created it to welcome Lord Shiva. According to another legend, Lord Brahma sacrificed ten horses during Dasa-Ashwamedha yajna performed here.
Manikarnika Ghat is one of the holiest among the sacred riverfronts (Ghats), alongside the river Ganga, in the city of Varanasi in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. In Hinduism, death is considered as a gateway to another life marked by the results of one's karma. It is believed that a dead human's soul attains moksha, and hence breaks the cycle of rebirth when cremated here. Thus, scores of the elderly across the whole country seek to walk up to its edges, and spend their last days absorbing the charisma of the ghat making death painless and insignificant to be pondered upon.
Assi Ghat is the southernmost ghat in Varanasi. To most visitors to Varanasi, it is known for being a place where long-term foreign students, researchers, and tourists live. Assi Ghat is one of the ghats often visited for recreation and during festivals. On typical days about 300 people visit every hour in the mornings, and on festival days 2500 people arrive per hour. Most of the people visiting the ghat on usual days are students from the nearby Banaras Hindu University. The ghat accommodates about 22,500 people at once during festivals like Shivratri.
Dhamek Stupa is a massive stupa located at Sarnath, 13 km away from Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Stupas originated as pre-Buddhist tumuli, in which ascetics were buried in a seated position, called chaitya. After the parinirvana of the Buddha, his remains were cremated and the ashes divided and buried under eight mounds with two further mounds encasing the urn and the embers. Little is known about these early stupas, particularly since it has not been possible to identify the original ten monuments.
The Ramnagar Fort is a fortification in Ramnagar, Varanasi, India. It is located near the Ganga River on its eastern bank, opposite to the Tulsi Ghat. The sandstone structure was built in the Mughal style in 1750 by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh. At present, the fort is not in a good shape. The current king and the resident of the fort is Pelu Bhiru Singh, who is also known as the Maharaja of Varanasi even though this royal title has been abolished since 1971.
Sarnath Museum is the oldest site museum of Archaeological Survey of India. It houses the findings and excavations at the archaeological site of Sarnath, by the Archaeological Survey of India. Sarnath is located near Varanasi, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The museum contains five galleries and two verandahs to display the antiquities ranging from the 3rd century BCE to 12th century AD that have been found at Sarnath and has 6,832 sculptures and artefacts.
Ganga Aarti (ritual of offering prayer to the Ganges river) is held daily at dusk. Several priests perform this ritual by carrying deepam and moving it up and down in a rhythmic tune of bhajans. Special aartis are held on Tuesdays and on religious festivals. The Ganga Aarti starts soon after sunset and lasts for about 45 minutes. In summer the Aarti begins at about 7pm due to late sunsets and in winter it starts at around 6pm. Hundreds of people gather at the ghat every evening to watch the event.
Jantar Mantar is an observatory built in Varanasi in the year 1737 by Maharaja Jai Singh II of kingdom of Amber (later called Jaipur). The observatory is one of the five observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh II. It was constructed with an aim of measuring local time, altitude (of the place) and also to measure declination of Sun, starsand planets and to determine eclipses. Motion, speed and properties of stars and planets were also recorded using several special instruments.
Shri Vishwanath Mandir also known as Vishwanath Mandir, Vishwanath Temple, New Vishwanath Temple and Birla Temple is one of the most famous temples and biggest tourist attractions in the holy city of Varanasi. In 1930s, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya planned to replicate Shri Kashi Vishwanath Mandir in the campus of Benaras Hindu University. The Birla family undertook the construction and foundation was laid in March 1931. The temple (Shri Vishwanath Mandir) was finally completed in 1966.