December 10, 2013

Varanasi - Divine blessings in the land of temples

........................ is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.....By Mark Twain

This is a city renowned for its religious and artistic activities since times immemorial. This city has been a cultural centre of India since several thousands of years and as per the available historical details this city is older than most of the religions in the World.

Its none other than one of the most colourful, spiritual and charismatic place in India, welcome to "VARANASI", also known as "KASHI, काशी" and "BENARAS, बनारस ". Place where temples outdo the number of people, Varanasi is one of the most spectacular and visited cities on this earth. Considered to be auspicious by the presence of "Lord Shiva" this sacred place is believed to have the power of washing away all the sins; those who die and gets cremated here is liberated from the cycle of life and death and attains " मोक्ष (Moksha)".  


Varanasi is one place where you can venture out without any schedule or fixed program and take my words you will not be disappointed while coming back. There is a glorious history associated with every part of this city. No surprise you can also find people from many nationalities getting familiar with diverse Indian traditions in the city. 
 

Walking around the city is not just walking it is an exploration about India: holy chants from the temples, numerous sages and saints with their distinguished patronage and believes is itself an experience to cherish.
I do not know why he is looking at me so angry...
"Varanasi" is the ultimate pilgrimage spot in India. Ganga Ghats (River front: series of steps leading to the banks of river Ganges) are the most sought after pilgrimage spot and Ganga AARTI (worship of river Ganges, in Hinduism rivers are worshipped as mother) performed during sunrise and sunset attracts lot of devotees.  


Dashashwamedh Ghat, दशाश्वमेध घाट (According to the legends Lord Brahma performed ten horses sacrifice, दस-अश्वमेध  at this ghat) is the most ancient and main ghat in Varanasi where Agni Pooja, अग्नि पूजा (Aarti - आरती ) is performed  everyday after sunset by beautifully clad priests in saffron colour dresses and big brass lamps.  Priests are just about to start the Aarti (Prayers):

On the back side of priests, people are sitting in the boats on river Ganges: 
This Aarti, Agni Pooja (अग्नि पूजा) is dedicated to Lord ShivaRiver Ganga (the Ganges), Surya-सूर्य (Sun), Agni-अग्नि (Fire), and the whole universe. What a mesmerizing craft is being created by the Gods, devotees and the priests.
This Aarti is not just a prayer, it is a phenomenon par excellence and the being a part of this Aarti is a feeling which cannot be described in words. You have to be a part of it to believe. Aarti is now facing Kashi Vishwanath temple to worship Lord Shiva.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHGG8HFf104&feature=youtu.be

Final thanksgiving to the Gods:


Despite so many people there is a perfect silence during the Aarti and only holy chants of aarti are heard. Thousands of earthen lamps immersed in holy waters of Ganga as floating lamps makes this aarti an awesome ritual of devotees. At this moment religion takes a back seat and everyone gets immersed in the spirituality and the sacred power of the prayers. There are no words in the English vocabulary which can truly convey the aura of this Aarti, you have to be a part of this moment to believe. "If India is considered as a Body, then Varanasi is the Soul". It is this charm of Varanasi which makes it a must in India visit itinerary.  
Varanasi is also acclaimed worldwide for the Silk produced here. One can buy exquisite silk sarees, some of the notable shops are located near to the ghats. One can aslo take a walk around the ghats and see the huge structures, residences of royal family of Varanasi:

During the daytime, one can enjoy boat ride in river Ganges, enjoy delicious food or can go around Varanasi and offer prayers in the numerous temples. Notable few of them:

Kashi Vishwanath Temple, कशी विश्वनाथ मंदिर
Vishwanath - Ruler of the Universe, Lord Shiva. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is one of the most acclaimed temple in India and is home to one of the twelve, 12 Jyotirlinga in India. However worship at this temple is worth more than the visit of all other Jyotirlingas combined.

 
Such is the significance of this temple that people from all over the country try to visit this temple at least once in their lifetime. On special occasions around 100,000 devotees from all around the world come to offer prayers in this temple. Main temple is surrounded by temples of other gods. 

Visit of so many devotees to this place also indicates the universal desire of human race to live in peace. "May Lord Shiva be benevolent on me to let me continue my life like this"

(Photography is strictly prohibited for the Kashi Vishwanath temple, Vehicles are not allowed to enter the lane and are stopped at the round about which is around 100m. from the above temple gate)


Vishwanath lane which leads to the temple is also famous for shopping. After praying in the Kashi Vishwanath temple, do not forget to take back some stuff from the numerous shops apart from the sweet memories from the Vishwanath lane. 


Sankatmochan Hanuman Temple, संकटमोचन हनुमान मंदिर: One of the most sacred temple in India for Lord Hanuman, it is believed that this temple is built on the very place where Saint Tulsidas had a visual vision of Lord Hanuman.

 Every Tuesday and Saturday thousands of devotees line up to offer prayers in this temple. There are hundreds of monkeys in the temple premises, however they have not harmed any human till date. According the tradition, visitors to this temple get special favours from Lord Hanuman. This temple is also special in the aspect that Lord Hanuman is facing Lord Rama, whom he worshiped with utmost devotion.
On occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, birthdEach year in the month of Apay of Lord Hanuman a special Shobha Yatra, a procession starting from Durgakund adjacent to the historic Durga temple to this temple is carried out. Each year in the month of April, the temple organizes a classical music and dance concert festival, "Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh", attended by musicians and performers from all over India.

(Photography is strictly prohibited in this Hanuman temple)
Durga Temple, दुर्गा मंदिर:
Durga Temple was built around 500 years back. The statue of Godess Durga is not man made, according to the belief, the present statue of Goddess Durga was not made by man but appeared on its own in the temple. History about the temple:

Fabulous crafting of fine stone works makes this temple an excellent example of Indian craftsmanship.
There is also a square pond, Durga kund adjacent to the temple, which earlier used to be fed by the river Ganges itself. However that channel has been blocked now and the pond is dependent on rains for replenishing its water.

Millions of devotees visit the Durga temple during the auspicious Navratri occasion. It is believed that Goddess Durga always protect Varanasi from any troubles.
Tulsi Manas Temple, तुलसी मानस मंदिर : Constructed by the royal family of Varanasi, this temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. It is situated at the place where Sant Tulsidas used to live and wrote the epic "Shri Ramcharitmanas", which narrates the life of Lord Rama. 

Verses from Tulsidas’ epic are inscribed on the walls. It is close to the Durga Temple.

Visiting Varanasi is not just any travel, it is a journey to enlighten oneself. If you want to see only temples or ghats perhaps your one life will not be enough.What is more important than the river Ganges, Ghats or temples is the environment of tranqility and inner peace which one can find here. Why not, afterall this is the place which attracts visitors with so much of devotion:

People who come here often delay the return to their usual routines, mainly because of all of the above factors and the richness of the environment magnetise their stay at Varanasi. There is one India on this earth and there is no other Varanasi.

Varanasi is well connected by trains/ roads to all major cities of India and also has an international airport. Accomodation is not a problem as there are lot of hotels suitable to all types of budget. Just make plans and leave everything to GOD, he will take good care of you in this city.


Next in line was "SARNATH", the place where Lord Buddha gave his first teachings...Journey still continues and shall contine with the blessings of God almighty...

-:- In Varanasi while visiting the temples better to use slippers instead of shoes as one has to remove the shoes at every temple or religious place -:-






Reactions:

7 comments:

  1. Everyone hears the name VARANASI. It’s traditional place & Religious place. There are many Temples & flow the “Ganga”. But one thing is important, like as VARANASI Sarees. Most Indian ladies to be, long to be in a rich silk fabric weaved with wonderful banarasi fine art.

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  2. Replies
    1. Coloured by customs and traditions, Varanasi is a class apart...

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  3. Beautiful pictures accompained by eqully good words.Varansi is in my Wishlist also

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by...
      Travelling to Varanasi is a therapy for mind and soul, will come across many traditions and customs which will make your travel surely enriching...

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