The Cultural Capital of India
A visit to the mesmerizing city of Varanasi is tantamount to visiting peace and spirituality within. Also known as Kashi and Benaras, Varanasi is not only the holy city but also one of the Shakti Peethas and one of the twelve Jyotir Linga sites in India. Its rich cultural heritage is beyond words. Located ideally on the banks of the holy river Ganga, this city is said to be the abode of Lord Shiva. It has been the seat of learning since ancient times. It is dotted with numerous temples and ghats where visitors come from all over the world in search of spiritual learning and attainment of moksha. It is the oldest city in the world and a famous pilgrimage site of the Hindus. Mark Twain, the world renowned American author, described Varanasi as “Older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together”.
The sacred city is dotted with around 23,000 temples but the temples which are most famous are:
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temples is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga Shiva temples in the city. It is the most visited temple.
Dedicated to Goddess Durga, embodiment of shakti or female power, this temple is also known as the money temple as there are many moneys residing on the huge trees nearby. The temple has multi-tiered spires and is stained red with ochre, representing the red colour of Durga.
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
Built by the founder of the famous Banaras Hindu University, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, this temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. The legend goes that the temple was constructed on the spot where the great Hindu saint Tulsidas has a vision of Hanuman.
Tulsi Manas Temple
Built in honour of Lord Rama, this temple is located where the great Hindu saint is believed to have lived and written the great epic “Shri Ramcharitmanas”.
There are more than hundred ghats in Varanasi where pilgrims bathe for spiritual purification. If you visit the ghats early morning you can catch glimpses of priests, sadhus offering puja and people practicing yoga and meditation. Also you can take a boat ride at dawn for lovely views. Assi Ghat, Darbhanga Ghat, Dasaswamedh Ghat, Man Mandir Ghat, Scindhia Ghat are a few famous ones.
Banaras Hindu University
It is one of the most renowned universities of India established in 1917. Sprawling across 5 sq km, the university offers a wide variety of courses to students. It also houses the Bharat Kala Bhavan where beautiful miniature paintings, old photographs of Varanasi and brocade textiles and sculptures from first to fifteenth centuries are on display.
Located only 10 km from Varanasi is Sarnath which is the place where Lord Buddha preached his message of the ‘middle way’ to nirvana. There are several Buddhist structures in Sarnath.
It is the historic place where Lord Buddha attained parinirvana (nirvana-after-death, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained nirvana during their lifetime).
How to Reach
Varanasi is well connected by air, rail and road from all the major cities of India. Varanasi is around 816 km from Delhi.
What Travelers Say?
The arrangement of our trip was so perfectly done, that i could not find even a single fault or drawback for which i could provide a suggestion. We are so much impressed and touched by the hospitality and services provided. To be frank, we have already started to plan for our next holiday, may be sometime in the end of the year. We will get back to you soon :-) Thanks again Exceptional Escapes.....you guys are truly EXCEPTIONAL!!!! - read more...
The trip in general has been exceptional
The driver was a sweetheart. Always bringing me something to eat or drink and also always carrying a beautiful smile - read more...
Airport Representative was very Good Tour & Guide Services was very Good Ground Services was excellent Hotel Services was excellent - read more...
Generally all are good except that in shimla. Silverine hotel is not a suitable hotel for elderly people as they need to walk up and downhill to the hotel….though the place is ideal for shoppers - read more...
Thank you so very much for going above and beyond to ensure that we had a wonderful trip. I have been telling everyone about your hospitality. I truly had a great time and I especially am thankful for all your organizing and to take time to show us your family and invite us to your home. You have a beautiful family and I think Choti (your little sister) is so adorable - read more...
Hi Gaurav, thanks for following up and for all your efforts in making all the necessary arrangements for my trip. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. A few suggestions on how you might improve your services for future bookings - read more...
Many thanks for putting together a wonderful and memorable vacation for us. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We did not find anything lacking from your side. It was our first visit to India and it seems like we are already planning to be back. The pace was hectic so we did not find much time to visit the local markets which we will have to make up next time - read more...
We reached home safely on Sunday morning (USA time) and slept most of the day. I cannot thank you enough for all your help and efforts in making our trip such a wonderful success. I will never forget the experiences we had and fun time we enjoyed all throughout the trip. I will send you pictures soon.....'not to worry!!!' - read more...
We waited almost two years to meet again and it was well worth it. Everybody had a fantastic time and loved every moment of it. Your friend speaks very good English now and we all wish her well in the future. It seems that shopping with your friend was the highlight of the trip, the ladies would not stop talking about it - read more...