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Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Many names have been given to Varanasi, though its recently revived official appellation is mentioned in the Mahabharata and in the Jataka tales of Buddhism. It probably derives from the two rivers that flank the city, the Varana to the north and the Asi to the south.. Many still use the anglicized forms of Banaras or Benares, while pilgrims refer to Kashi, first used three thousand years ago to describe the kingdom and the city outside which the Buddha preached his first sermon; the "City of Light" is also called Kashika, "the shining one", referring to the light of Shiva. Another epithet, Avimukta, meaning "Never Forsaken", refers to the city that Shiva never deserted, or that one should never leave. Further alternatives include Anandavana, the "forest of bliss", and Rudravasa, the place where Shiva (Rudra) resides.

Everyone has their own way of celebrating the ritual contact with the holy Ganga: some bathe; other dip themselves entirely into the water once, thrice or any number of times; some drink the water; other make water offerings to the sun; while others fill their pots with holy water to take back to their homes to perform rituals and purification. The offerings to the sacred waters vary. Pilgrims give flowers, fruits, lamps and their respectful prayers. On festival days and religious occasions the riverside is thick with their colorful bobbing up and down on the waters.

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple :
Also known as the Golden Temple, 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 Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varanasi. Entry restricted for foreigners. 

Asi Ghat to Kedara Ghat :
At the clay-banked Asi Ghat, the southernmost in the sacred city, at the confluence of the Asi and the Ganges, pilgrims bathe prior to worshipping at a huge lingam under a peepal tree. Another lingam visited is that of Asisangameshvara, the "Lord of the Confluence of the Asi", in a small marble temple just off the ghat. Traditionally, pilgrims continued to Lolarka Kund, the Trembling Sun", a rectangular tank fifteen metres blow ground level, approached by steep steps. Now almost abandoned, except during the Lolarka Mela fair (Aug/Sept), when thousands come to propitiate the gods and pray for the birth of a son, Lolarka Kund is among Varanasi's earliest sites, one of only two remaining Sun sites linked with the origins of Hinduism. Equated with the twelve adityas or divisions of the sun, which predate the great deities of Modern Hinduism, it was attracting bathers in the days of the buddha.

Much of the adjacent Tulsi Ghat :
originally Lolarka Ghat, but renamed in the honour of the poet Tulsidas, who lived nearby in the sixteenth century - has crumbled. Continuing north, above Shivala Ghat, hanuman Ghat is the site of a new temple built by the ghat's large south Indian community. Considered by many to be the birth place of the fifteenth-century Vaishnavite saint Vallabha, who was instrumental in in the resurgence of the worship of Krishna, the ghat also features a striking image of Ruru, the dog Bhairava, a ferocious and early form of Shiva.

Dashashwamedha Ghat :
Dashashwamedha is Varanasi's most popular and accessible bathing ghat, with rows of pandas sitting on wooden platforms under bamboo umbrellas, masseurs plying their trade and boatmen jostling for custom. Its name, "ten horse sacrifices", derives from a complex series of sacrifices performed by Brahma to test King Divodasa: Shiva and Parvati were sure the king's resolve would fail, and he would be compelled to leave Kashi, thereby allowing them to return to their city. However, the sacrifices were so perfect that Brahma established the Brahmeshvara lingam here. Since that time, Dashashwamedha has become one of the most celebrated tirthas on earth, where pilgrims can reap the benefits of the huge sacrifice merely by bathing.  

Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary :
70 km from Varanasi are the forests of Chandraprabha, within which are the Rajdari and Devdari Waterfalls. A beautiful secluded spot for a picnic. 

Vindhyachal :
The famous temple of Vindhyavasini Devi, Ashtabhuja Devi and Kalikhoh are the major attractions.


Varanasi Package

 
 
Jenaral Information :
Area : 73.89 Sq.kms. (Mathura Dist.)
Altitude : 80.71 mts. 
Season : October - March 
Population : 1322248 (1991 census) 
Clothing : Summer - Cottons; Winters - Woolens 
 
 
Accessibility :
Air : The nearest airport is Babatpur, 22 km from Varanasi and 30 Km from Sarnath. Direct flights for Varanasi are available from Delhi, Agra, Khajurao, Calcutta, Mumbai airports.   
Rail : Varanasi and Mughal Sarai (one of the main railway stations of Varanasi) are the important rail junctions, with train connections to all major cities of India.  
Road : Varanasi, on NH 2 from Calcutta to Delhi, NHZ to Kanya Kumari and NH 29 to Gorakhpur is well connected to the rest of the country by good motorable roads.
 
   
   
 
 
 
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