Varanasi, or Benaras (also known as Kashi), is one of the world’s oldest cities that still exists. It is the root of Hindu Mythology.
For centuries, the sacred land of Benaras (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Hindus. It is considered the religious capital of Hinduism and a sacred location for many Hindu sects.
The English author and poet Mark Twain, who was quite impressed by the purity and spiritual upsurge of Benaras, once wrote: “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”
Benaras has over 3,300 Hindu temples, shrines, and ghats along the banks of the River Ganga. It is believed that this river washes away sins and grants liberation from the cycle of rebirth.
In this article, you will get to know about the following Hindu religious places to visit in Benaras,
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple
- Assi Ghat
- Dasaswamedh Ghat
- Manikarnika Ghat
- Shri Durga Temple
- Shri Hanuman Temple
Let us each of these places in detail.
1. Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most sacred places to visit in Benaras. It is also considered one of Uttar Pradesh’s most visited temples.
This temple houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and is known to radiate powerful positive energy. It is located on the banks of the Ganga and is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is worshipped here as Lord Vishveshwar meaning Lord of the Universe.
Lord Vishwanath (Vishveshwara) is believed to be the abode of all the devoted souls who have passed away. The temple’s beauty and spirituality have amazed every visitor who has come here. The golden dome and spire of the temple are magnificent. People have faith that if they pray sincerely here, Lord will fulfill all their wishes.
2. Assi Ghat
Assi Ghat is one of Varanasi’s most popular ghats that attracts tourists and locals alike. It is situated in the southern part of Benaras where the Ganga and Assi rivers meet.
People visit Assi Ghat to experience the spiritual vibe, witness the famous evening aarti, and have a glimpse into the local culture.
This ghat has references in several Hindu scriptures, such as the Kurma Purana, Matsya Purana, Padma Purana, and Agni Purana. People take a holy dip in the Assi River and offer holy water to Lord Shiva here.
On auspicious days like Sankrantis and Ekadashis, many devotees take a holy bath at this place. It also has many mythological tales associated with it. The Ghats are also crowded with devotees during Ganga Mahotsav and Mahashivratri.
3. Dasaswamedh Ghat
One of the most amazing places to spend the evening in Varanasi is the Dasaswamedh Ghat. This place is full of life and color, with many flower vendors selling vibrant blooms, boats gliding on the water, and saints covered in white ash, sporting dreadlocks, and wearing rudraksha mala or garland. You can relax by the ghat and observe the diversity of people who come here.
Every evening at 7 PM, a spectacular ritual takes place at the Dasaswamedh Ghat. The Ganga Aarti is performed by Hindu priests who wear saffron robes and offer flowers and blow a large conch shell to mark the beginning of the spiritual ceremony. The sound of chanting and bells fills the air as they move their hands in graceful gestures. It is a magical sight that you will never forget.
Thousands of devotees gather to witness this spiritual ceremony and feel its divine energy. The ghat gets lit up so beautifully that the entire reflection of this holy act falls on the river Ganga and that view is something to remember for a lifetime. Many people enjoy taking a boat ride to capture this scene from different angles. It is like seeing a whole universe in one place.
4. Manikarnika Ghat
Just like the famous Swargadwar in Puri, Manikarnika Ghat is one of the sacred cremation grounds in India. Many mythological tales are associated with the origin and history of Manikarnika Ghat.
Hindus believe that this is an auspicious place to attain moksha and escape from the cycle of reincarnation. The funeral pyre burns at this ghat 24×7 as numerous cremations take place here every day.
There are more than 80 ghats in this area. This sacred place is considered the ultimate destination for salvation.
5. Shri Durga Temple
A short walk from Assi Ghat will lead you to the Shri Durga Temple, a red brick temple with a multi-layered spire in North Indian Style. It is a 300-year-old temple dedicated to the goddess Durga, who is believed to have manifested here on her own.
The temple has a lovely pond (known as Durga Kund) on its right side with stone steps and pillars, which enhances its beauty.
Monkeys often visit this temple, which is why it is also called “Monkey’s Temple.” Some swans can also be seen in the water near the temple.
Durga Mata is worshipped here as the protector of Varanasi from any sort of problem.
6. Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
The Sankat Mochan Shri Hanuman Temple was built in the 1900s by freedom fighter Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, near the Assi River. This temple is a sacred part of Benaras, as it is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, who is known as Sankat Mochan, or the remover of all earthly fear and pain.
In the temple, the idol of Lord Hanuman faces his beloved Lord Rama, whom he served with utmost devotion and loyalty. Many devotees visit this temple to seek blessings from Lord Bajrangbali and Siya Ram and receive the delicious laddoo prasad.
According to some legends, this temple marks the spot where Tulsidas had a vision of Lord Hanuman. It is also believed that is the place where he composed his epic Ramcharitmanas.
These are some Hindu temples and religious sites to visit in Benaras.
Varanasi is not only famous for its sacred ghats and shrines, but it is one of the pivotal places famous for Benarasi Sarees, paans (betel leaves), street food, and musicians.
It is one of the oldest yet one of the liveliest cities that you must encounter once in your lifetime.
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