Varanasi, also known as Banaras or Kashi, is one of the oldest cities in India and one of the most important religious and cultural centers in the country. It is situated on the banks of the river Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradesh and is considered as one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindu religion. The city is famous for its ancient temples, ghats, and narrow alleys. It has a rich history and has been a cultural and educational center for over 3000 years. In this article, we will explore the history, culture, and attractions of Varanasi.
History of Varanasi:
Varanasi has a rich and varied history that dates back to ancient times. According to legend, the city was founded by Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities of the Hindu religion. It is said that he appeared in a vision to a king named Divodasa and told him to build a city on the banks of the Ganges. The city was originally known as Kashi, which means “the city of light”.
Over the centuries, Varanasi has been ruled by various dynasties including the Mauryas, the Guptas, the Mughals, and the British. It has been an important center for learning, religion, and culture for centuries. Many famous scholars, philosophers, and poets have lived in the city over the years, including the famous poet Kabir.
Culture of Varanasi:
Varanasi is a city with a rich cultural heritage. It is a center of classical music, dance, and art. The city is famous for its Banarasi silk sarees, which are considered to be among the finest in India. The city has also been a center of learning for centuries, with many famous universities and colleges.
Religion is an important part of the culture of Varanasi. The city is known for its numerous temples, which are dedicated to various deities of the Hindu religion. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the most famous temples in the city. The temple is believed to have been built in the 11th century, although it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries. Other important temples in the city include the Sankat Mochan Temple, dedicated to Lord Hanuman, and the Durga Temple, dedicated to the goddess Durga.
Attractions in Varanasi:
Varanasi is a city with many attractions for visitors. One of the most popular attractions is the ghats, which are a series of steps that lead down to the river Ganges. There are over 80 ghats in the city, each with its own unique history and significance. The ghats are used for bathing, washing clothes, and performing religious ceremonies.
Another popular attraction in Varanasi is the Ramnagar Fort, which is located on the opposite bank of the Ganges. The fort was built in the 18th century and is a fine example of Mughal architecture. It contains a museum that showcases the history and culture of the city.
The Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum is another popular attraction in Varanasi. The museum contains a vast collection of art, sculptures, and artifacts from all over India. It is located on the campus of Banaras Hindu University.
The Sarnath Archaeological Museum is located in the nearby town of Sarnath, which is about 10 km from Varanasi. The museum contains a collection of artifacts from the ancient Buddhist site of Sarnath, which was an important center of learning and culture in ancient times.
Food in Varanasi:
Varanasi is known for its street food, which is a must-try for visitors. The food in Varanasi is a blend of different cultures, and it offers a unique taste that cannot be found anywhere else. Here are some of the popular dishes to try in Varanasi:
- Chaat: Chaat is a popular street food in India, and Varanasi is no exception. Chaat is a dish made with a mixture of crispy fried dough, potatoes, chickpeas, and chutneys. It is a perfect blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors and is loved by locals and visitors alike.
- Lassi: Lassi is a refreshing drink made with yogurt, water, and sugar. It is served in a tall glass and is perfect for beating the heat in Varanasi. The lassi in Varanasi is famous for its thick and creamy texture, and it is often topped with a dollop of malai (cream).
- Kachori: Kachori is a deep-fried pastry filled with spiced lentils or potatoes. It is a popular breakfast and snack item in Varanasi and is often served with a tangy tamarind chutney.
- Samosa: Samosa is a deep-fried pastry filled with spiced potatoes, peas, and sometimes meat. It is a popular snack item in Varanasi and is often served with mint chutney.
- Thandai: Thandai is a refreshing drink made with milk, nuts, and spices. It is often served during festivals and is a popular drink in Varanasi during the summer months.
- Malaiyo: Malaiyo is a creamy dessert made with milk, saffron, and sugar. It is a specialty of Varanasi and is only available during the winter months. It is a must-try for visitors to Varanasi.
- Kebabs: Kebabs are a popular street food in Varanasi. They are made with marinated meat, which is grilled over a charcoal fire. The kebabs are often served with mint chutney and onions.
- Paan: Paan is a popular mouth freshener in India, and Varanasi is famous for its paan. Paan is made by wrapping betel leaves around a mixture of spices, nuts, and sometimes tobacco. It is a must-try for visitors to Varanasi.
Varanasi is a city with a rich history, culture, and food. It is a city that offers a unique experience for visitors, and it is a must-visit destination in India. The city is famous for its temples, ghats, and street food, and it is a city that will leave a lasting impression on visitors.