Varanasi – An eminent Spiritual City of India

Varanasi Tourism

The City of Spiritualism, where the Benarasi’s believe themselves as the great disciples of Lord Shiva, as get an unrivalled chance to live in Varanasi, which was once an abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Often this city is described as old as time itself”. An ancient city, Varanasi is counted as a continuous inhabitant city around the world, has played a vital role in Indian history and culture, and has been the inception of country’s art, music and philosophy.

Situated in the heart of Gangetic plains, in Uttar Pradesh, one can wander on the vibrant lanes, to unveil the layered history of Varanasi. City’s spirit never fails to bubble up in the extravaganza of colours and hustle bustle all around, various ghats, temples where thousands of sightseers, visitors, pilgrims are spotted performing rituals of the cycle of birth and death. Tahir Shah, a British author and journalist also eulogized about the land of rituals that is, Varanasi as the Enlightenment, and the death which comes before it, is the primary business of Varanasi.It is the essence of this city, which adds the remarkable experience of different facets of Indian culture in travellers journey.

Being the centre of spiritual milieu, Varanasi is the stage to commemorate Hindu festivals, tourist here experience the great fervor of Mahashivratri, Chhath, Hanuman Jayanti, Dussehra, to heighten the anticipation of travellers Government too, organize cultural festivals such as Ganga Mahotsav, and Dhrupad Mela, that is the five day music festival and a Dhrup tradition of city followed respectively.

Varanasi a city that will take you to another level of spirituality, land of attaining nirvana, plays with your mind and heart, one can go through the cluster of emotions while rambling on Kashi Ghats. Breathtaking view of sunrise and sunset, guises the most stunning and surreal scene of the Ganges.

Through the annals of history, the eternal charm of this city remains constant, and no wonder it will pursue its divine dignity in coming centuries too.

Etymology and History of Varanasi

An ancient city situated on the banks of holy river Ganga, this city is also known as Kashi and Benaras. The origin of the name Varanasi, comes out from the name of another two rivers Varuna and Assi, according to some speculations, river Varuna itself was known as Varanasi. As time passes, this city got to be identified from several divine names as Avimuktaka, Mahasmasana, Surandhana, Anandakanana, Brahma Vardha, Sudarsana, Ramya, and Kashi.

According to the Hindu epic, Rigveda, Varanasi was also referred to as Kashi. City’s glory was depicted in the Kashi and 15,000 verses in the Skanda Purana. These cluster of spiritual epithets holds the ancient and mythical tales too that enrich the history of holy city Varanasi. It is believed that the Varanasi stands on the “ the Trishool ( Trident ) weapon of Lord Shiva, as this pious city was itself founded by the Hindu deity Shiva, he chooses to make this city as his abode when married to Goddess Parvati. The significance of Varanasi is mentioned in about every Hindu scriptures such as the Rigveda, Skanda Purana, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata.

Varanasi has been known as a seat of learning since Ancient times; this city is full of art and literature, a hub for Hindustani classical music as Benarasi Gherana is an outset gifted from this city. Tulsi Das penned Ramcharitra Manas here, Lord Buddha delivered his first Sermon, and it follows the advent of Buddhism widely. Also, Varanasi was get mentioned in Mahabharata as Pandavas atone for their sins for killing Brahmins during the Battle of Kurukshetra.

Around 3000 years old city, undoubtedly a centuries-old town in the world, is highly famous for its muslin, silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and various sculptures, and artistic activities. At its earliest days, the city was called as the Kashi Kingdom. Under the Muslim Invaders, this city has a checkered life history of struggle dissension and destruction. Muslim emperor Qutb-ud-din Aibak had destroyed thousands of the Hindu shrines and religious monuments in the year 1194.

Then in around 13th century after the Afghan invasion, some Hindu were established which were later destroyed by the end of 14th century. Travellers like Hieun Tsang and Xuanxuan wrote about the multiple shrines of kashi in their travel journals. Nevertheless, no matter how many times this city was razed to the ground, it is always regained its pristine glory.

Conglomeration of Cultures

An alluring and inspiring culture of Varanasi has always been an integral part of Indian values and tradition. Since this city is swaying, the centuries-old wisdom to the world, today it is hailed as the cultural capital of India.  No one can take away the crux of artistry from this town, it is entrenched in the roots of this land. For years, Varanasi is the home for the music, dance, literature, painting, sculpting, and theatre.

Poet and Saint Tulsi Das, has written his widely famed epic poem, Ram Charit Manas, sitting on one of the ghats of Varanasi, what we call it as Tulsi Ghat. Not only this, this city has gifted the impeccable artist and poet to the world, like Ravi Das, Munshi Prem Chand, Hazari Prasad Drivedi, Tegh Ali and some of the renowned artists like Girja Devi, and Ravi Shankar had their first artistic lessons from Varanasi.

Since the time of civilization, Benaras is being known as mélange of cultures, ruling dynasties had imprinted their ethos to the land, and it can all be seen in the handicrafts and craftsmanship of the locals. Benarasi silk sarees, embroideries, carpets, wooden and clay crafts, all the art artwork is globally acclaimed.

Lastly, the series of celebrating festivals vastly is the way to restore India’s rich tradition. From ages this city has revered the value of education, it’s the intrinsic part of Benaras culture. And no wonder the skill of wrestling in the akharas situated around the ghats of Benaras have their own “sui generis” to make one wonder about this holy piece of land.

Evening Ganga Aarti’s

The soul-stirring spiritual sight of Varanasi is none other than the evening Aartis performed at the Ghats of the holy river Ganga. The spectacular moments to capture in your memories, captivating site of a flowing stream, hymns echoing in the entire atmosphere of Varanasi will leave you in awe. To experience the fascinating and beatific spiritual feeling attend the aarti performed by the group of priests at the Dashashwamedh Ghat.

Rituals that are conducted at the riverside make every moment of the evening time devotional and fill one’s mind with sacred thoughts. Devotees start gathering at least an hour before to attend arati. In Summers Gange aarti commences at 6.45 PM, when the twilight hits the river banks for approximately 45 minutes at the Dashashwamedh ghat in the Varanasi, at winters, it starts early around 6 PM. Priests who have to perform the aarti, wear the dhoti and kurta which is tightly bound around their waist. Firstly they collect five elevated planks, a multi-tiered oil lamp, an idol of the Goddess Ganga, flowers, incense sticks, a conch shell, a big and heavy brass lamp having a snake hood at the edge of the River Gange, then all those seven pandits which are involved in chanting of mantras, and prayers in the praises of river Ganges stood up to begin the Aarti.

Also to witness the most spiritual juncture, a group of boats filled thousands of devotees gather, and make an astonishing view by clapping together and chanting hymns and mantras along with the music played back at the ghats. The aarti ends with the ritual of blowing a conch shell and firing camphor or Kapoor lamps. Gradually the whole aura fills with cool breeze and tranquillity after the dispersion of pilgrims, sadhus and devotees.

Cuisines Of Varanasi

If you are fond of local food, then the streets of Varanasi will never disappoint you. Spicy, savoury and sweet all kind of appealing delicacies of Varanasi is being found in the bustling alleys of this city rather than in some high-end restaurants. Don’t worry if you are visiting Varanasi for the first time, you will experience the exotic taste of hot and crispy Kachoris and Samosa’s served with tasty potato curry and chutney’s at the Madhu Milan near Dhashashmeha ghat. Banarasi Paan “ Beetel Leaf” is the lifeline of the Varanasi, your trip is going to left incomplete without having succulent and flavoursome paan’s, visit Ram Chaurasia Tambul Bhandar, near to Chowk or Keshav Tambul Bhandar near BHU Gate to spot city’s best and authentic paan.

Other than that, Rabri, Malpua, Thekua, Sevaiyaan Kheer, Shahi tukda, Gulab Jamun’s these delectable sweets are prominent and readily available in the streets of Varanasi, and you can relish the best ones at Raman Mishtan Bhandar at Cantt Road.

Jalebi’s one cannot forget the crispy sweet dish all made up of crystallized sugar, the delicacy to have while watching the sunset at ghats.

Varanasi’s Chaat, Thandai, Litti Choka have no match in the whole world. Raj Kachori, Paani Puri, Tikki, Dahi Vada, these delicious chaats are famous in entire northern part of India, but the unbeatable ‘Tamatar chaat’ ( tomato chaat) is the speciality of Varanasi’s chaat bhandar’s, the Boondi Sev that garnishes this chaat, will take you to the other world nirvana. Check out Shri Chandra Mohan Pathak’s shop for Thandai’s and Lassiwala’s shop for cooling and rose flavoured lassi’s and thandai’s that are served in Kullad’s ( earthen cups).


Day 1- Begin your spiritual journey, by visiting one of the most famous Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kashi Vishwanath Temple located on the western bank of the Ganges. Destroyed and reconstructed many times during its history, lastly built by Maratha Monarch in 1780, is a must visit place. After this take a walk through the local market and street, taste some scrumptious delicacies, and you can shop some the antiques too.

Day 2-

Pay a visit to Manikarnika Ghat, one of the best-known sacred ghats, weak hearted people avoid to visit this ghat as cremations are performed here, although its a lifetime experience to visit this site, to learn why people wish their bodies to be cremated here. People can opt to visit another ghat to relish the sunrise while boating. On a boat ride, you can observe the numerous “ghats”, used for the rituals of bathing and cremation.

In a mid of day enjoy the spectacular sight At Dasaswamedh Ghat, see how locals gather at their most sacred river to perform rituals to appease their gods. Learn from the locals as they preach that Lord Brahma created this site to welcome Lord Shiva; some devotees believe that Brahma sacrificed 10 horses here to prove his sovereignty. In the evening hours ,take home a range of souvenirs and gifts for yourself and loved ones at Varanasi Remembrances.

Day 3- Kick start your day, admire an elegant red building of Monkey Temple (Durga Temple), an 18th-century shrine dedicated to the Hindu mother goddess Durga. Take a walk around the lush green courtyard of the temple, whose idol, legend has it, spontaneously appeared. Have a look at the dramatic verticality of the Nagara architecture. In a mid of the day visit Ramnagar Fort. Built at the end of the 18th century, the fort is still inhabited by the Maharaja of Varanasi, and so remains closed to the public. You can visit the onsite museum, and it contains a plethora of items such as vintage cars, elephant saddles carved from silver, and a vast antique armoury with items from Africa, Burma, and Japan. By the evening take a stroll at the Benaras Ghat, look around the nearly 100 riverfront steps, as Hindu worshippers come to perform their rituals. You can take a boat ride to witness the ceremonies of different cultures all in one place.

Day 4- Visit, Sarnath city just 10 km away from Varanasi, is famous as the one of the holy city of Budhha circuit, where he gave his first Dharma Sermon. Take a tour to Ashoka Pillar, Chaukandi Stupa, Dhamek Stupa, Deer Park, arrive early to avoid the traffic and enjoy the serenity and tranquillity of this town , relish the Tibetan food and lifestyle with locals and monks.

What you will like

Easily accessible to reach, well connected with rail, road and air. All sorts of accommodation are available at reasonable prices. A fascinating journey in the spiritual land will rejuvenate your soul take away all the distress of your life.

What you might not like

An insane crowd at festive times, avoid going with kids to the ghat where cremation rituals are performed on a regular basis. stay aware of Travel scams.

Ideal For

Travellers who are spiritual enthusiasts want to explore the divine Hindu culture, bloggers, photographers, foodies. Visit Varanasi to seek inside your soul.