Saturday, December 8, 2012

Varanasi Kashi Vishwanath Temple Visit | Varanasi Shiva's Mandir Tour | Varanasi Tourist Attractions | Varanasi Ganges River Ghats Tourism

Varanasi is a beautiful and more than 10 century old city. The city has very old heritage, culture and places to visit. It is famous for many places like Sarnath, Banks on Ganga, Temples etc.
The original name of present ‘Varanasi’ city was 'Kashi’, which was derived from the word 'Kasha' meaning brightness. The present name Varanasi has its origin in the two tributaries of the Ganges – ‘Varuna’and ‘Asi’, which flank its northern and southern borders. ‘Banaras’ or ‘Benaras’,as it is popularly known, are the name local popular name of official name ‘Varanasi’.
Historians have now ascertained that the Aryans first settled in the middle Ganges valley and by the second millennium BC, Varanasi became the nucleus of Aryan religion and philosophy. The city also flourished as a commercial and industrial center famous for its muslin and silk fabrics, ivory works, perfumery and sculptures.
In the 6th century BC, Varanasi became the capital of the kingdom of Kashi. During this time Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath, just 10 km away from Varanasi. Being a center of religious, educational, cultural and artistic activities, Kashi drew many learned men from around the world; the celebrated Chinese traveler Hsüan Tsang, is one of them, who visited India around AD 635.
Present Varanasi or better known locally as “Banaras”is situated on the banks of River Ganges. The city is also considered as one of the holiest city of India. The place is believed to be a sacred city with very old tradition and culture. Varanasi or Banaras is a place which still holds its old traditional cultural values. The city has all those major amenities which a modern advance city requires.
Varanasi is famous for spiritualism, mysticism, Indian philosophy and Hinduism. All these are reflected in numerous sects, temples, Ashrams and Ghats. Varanasi is associated not only with Hinduism but also with Buddhism and Jainism. Varanasi also boasts of Buddhist Stupas and Jain temples. Varanasi is mainly associated with Hinduism, temples form the main attraction. The Ganges Ghats (river fronts) are the main center of religious activities and rituals and also form one of the main attractions of Varanasi. The most important temples of Varanasi are Durga temple, Vishwanath temple, Sankat Mochan temple, Tulsi Manas temple and the Bharat Mata temple.
Kashi Vishwanth Mandir
Varanasi is place strewn with temples across the city. The place has great spiritual importance with may spiritual attractions like Art, Dance, Music etc. Varanasi is the oldest surviving city of the world and the cultural capital of India. The most famous temple Kashi Vishwanath Mandir is located on the western bank of India's holiest river Ganges and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva Temples. It is in the heart of this city that there stands in its fullest majesty the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in which is enshrined the Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishweshwara or Vishwanatha. Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one most famous Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the Holiest existing Place of Varanasi, where at least once in life a Hindu is expected to do pilgrimage, and if possible, also pour the remains of cremated ancestors on the River Ganges.
The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times. The Gyanvapi Mosque, which is adjacent to the temple, is the original site of the temple. The current structure was built by the Maratha monarch, Ahilya Bai Holkar of Infore in 1780. Since 1983, the temple is being managed by Govt. of Uttar Pradesh. During the religious occasion of Shivratri, Kashi Naresh (King of Kashi) is the chief officiating priest and no other person or priest is allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum. It is only after he performs his religious functions that others are allowed to enter.
The temple is visited every day by thousand of devotees. The temple roof is clad with Gold. The temple complex consists of a series of smaller shrines, located in a small lane called the Vishwanatha Galli, near the river. The Shiva Linga of the main deity at the shrine is 60 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference housed in a silver altar. There are small temples for Kaalbhairav, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri in the complex. There is a small well in the temple called the Jnana Vapi (the wisdom well) and it is believed that the Jytorlinga was hidden in the well to protect it at the time of invasion. It is said that the main priest of the temple jumped in the well with the Shiv Ling in order to protect the jyotir Ling from invaders.The architecture and temple interior comes alive with mesmerizing effect during the main prayers.
The Temple has great importance in Hindu Religion. The temple is widely recognized as one of the most important places of worship in Hindu religion and most of the leading Hindu saints, including Adi Sankaracharya, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Goswami Tulsidas, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Gurunanak have visited this site. A visit to the temple and a bath in the river Ganga is believed to lead one on a path to Moksha (liberation). Thus, people from all over the nation, try to visit the place at least once in their lifetime. There is also a tradition that one should give up at least one desire after a pilgrimage the temple, and the pilgrimage would also include a visit to the temple at Rameswaram in South India, where people take the water samples of Ganga to perform prayer at the temple and bring back the sand from near that temple. Due to the immense popularity and holiness of this temple, hundreds of temples across the nation have been built with the same style and architecture. Many legends establish that the true devotee achieves freedom from death and samsara by worship of Shiva. Shiva's devotees on death are directly taken to Mount Kailash by his messengers to his abode and not to Yama. The superiority of Shiva and his victory over his own nature - Shiva is himself identified with death - is also ascertained. There is a popular belief that Shiva himself blows the mantra of salvation into the ears of people who choose to end their lives at the Vishwanath temple.
A Visit to River Ganges ‘Ghats’:
A bath in Ganges River followed with visit to the Temple has deep importance for Hindu’s. The century olds Ghats which are located 4 kms along the river Ganges is spectacular sight, especially with importance of each Ghat and its history and timeless appeal. The long string of bathing steps leading down to the water on the western bank of the Ganges itself tells its spiritual story. Most are used for bathing but there is also located is ‘Marikarnika’ Ghat or the cremation Ghat for Hindus. There, one can often experience watching funeral processions threading their way through the backstreets to this ghat. The best time to visit the ghats is at dawn when the river is bathed in a mellow light as pilgrims come to perform puja (literally ‘respect’; offering or prayers) to the rising sun, and at sunset when the main ‘ganga aarti’ ceremony takes place at Dasaswamedh Ghat. One can explore a trip from Dasaswamedh Ghat south to Harishchandra Ghat and can have a great knowledge about the place Varanasi. The Ghats are best approached by Dashashwamedha ghat, where boats are available on hire.
Varanasi is mainly popular for these ghats and the spiritual environment over here. People here come to explore about the Hindu culture, tradition and religion. Thus this place is very famous and full of tourists from across the world throughout of year.
Reaching Varanasi
By Air: This oldest city of the world is properly linked and reachable to main Indian cities. The daily domestic flights are the easy source to reach Varanasi in few hours. Various Airline operators including India Airlines operates their daily flight to Varanasi
By Rail: the direct train from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and other states of India's help people to reach the destination easily. The Railways has started direct train to Varanasi from Delhi.
By Road: The flat and clean road of Varanasi highway allows people to travel through road as well. Public and private transport vehicles are available for Varanasi as it is properly connected with major cities of India.