Varanasi (Kashi)

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Kashi is the city of Bhagavan Shiva: Shiva, the Mahayogi, the lord of yogis; Shiva, the Nataraja, the lord of dance and music; Shiva, the jyotirlinga, the Light Supreme, Knowledge Supreme! Varanasi is truly the city of enlightenment, of illumination, of light. You see devotees having an early morning dip in the Holy Ganges at the Rajendra Prasad Ghat – India’s first President.

We reached the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir at 6am, had darshan. The temple is full of heavily guarded policemen. I saw the mosque adjacent to the temple. The platform on which the original temple existed is very much there. The current temple was made by Ahilyabai Holkar in 1870. 2 domes covered with gold were donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Every ghat is named after the person who made it. You see Prayag Ghat – Queen of Putiya State.

Before you reach Kashi some tips. Keep atleast 4 days for the city. Be at Ganga by 6pm to see the Ganga Aarti. Walk through lanes of Kashi to experience the city first hand. In the travelogue section read ‘Varanasi the City of Light’ by Swami Varishthananda. You see Ahilyabhai Ghat – Queen of Indore.

We took a boat ride. It takes you along the Ganga; you get to see various ghats. For a detailed listing of all ghats see the Travelogue. You see Munshi Ghat – Nagpur king. Bargain with the boat person. They quoted Rs 800/ we paid Rs 150/ for a one hour boat ride.

You see Rana Mahal Ghat by Rana Pratap of Mewar Rajasthan. Visit the Sankat Mochan (Hanumanji) Mandir and Durga Kunda.

You see Raja Ghat by Baji Rao Peshwa 1807 AD – Maharashtra. Above the Scindia Ghat visit the temple of Vireshwara or ‘Lord of Heroes’.

You see Kshamesnwar Ghat – Pinda Dan by South Indians. Visit the Kala Bhairava temple, the guardian of Kashi.

You see Vijaya Nagar Ghat by Sri Krishna Dev Raja (king). There are two other universities in Varanasi. The Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith and Sampurnanand Sanskrit University.

You see Harishchandra Ghat. Kashi to Allahabad takes about 8-9 days by boat.

Up to now you saw ghats that were to the right of the Prayag Ghat. We now moved to the left hand side of Prayag Ghat. You see hotels on the left, temples in the center and a ghat at the extreme right of picture.

You see ManMandir Ghat – Raja Man Singh Jaipur.

You see Lalita Ghat – King of Nepal. You see a historical temple on the left of the tree.

You see a temple i.e. in the water and tilting. We went for a boat ride in the evening as well. Doing Kashi at the fag end of the trip left us with little energy and time to experience the city. We hope to go there again.

Another picture of temples on the banks of the Holy Ganga. For more read Travelogue.

Visit the Benaras Hindu University campus. It was founded by freedom fighter Pandit Madan Malaviya whose picture you see. It provides residential educational facilities in a host of disciplines from Sanskrit studies and theology to rocket, missile, and ceramic engineering-----to tens of thousands of students. The university also has a museum, Bharat Kala Bhavan, with nearly a lakh exhibits including a rich collection of Indian miniature paintings, sculptures etc.

You see the modern day Kashi Vishwanatha temple on the University campus. It has shrines dedicated to each of the five important deities of the Hindu pantheon Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Ganesha, and Surya----with the sun shining outside the temple! It is a rare treat to spend a few hours in this temple with a knowledgeable guide, to be educated about the best elements in Indian culture-----grammar, chemistry, statecraft, language, and architecture; the spiritual tradition of the Vedas, Upanishads etc. It also has the entire Bhagavad Gita inscribed on its walls.

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