WEAVER'S WORLD / BENARAS / PLACES TO VISIT - 2
New Vishwanath Temple
New Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous temples and biggest tourist attractions in the holy city. A visit to the temple is a must when visiting Varanasi. The new Vishwanath temple is a massive temple complex consisting of seven temples. The Shiva temple is on the ground floor and the Lakshmi Narayan and the Durga temples are on the first floor. The temple is open to all people irrespective of religion, caste and creed from 10 am to 5 pm. It remains closed on Wednesdays.
The New Vishwanath temple is within the BHU campus and the whole structure is beautiful with a red and white tower structure. A peaceful temple that one can visit at leisure, it is maintained clean and neat. Situated within the beautiful campus of Banaras Hindu University, it has been made by the Birla trust, and is a landmark of the university. A beautiful and well maintained place, thousands of people visit here every day.
Unlike the other and more famous Kashi Vishwanath temple, this one is not just spiritually satisfying but is also beautiful to look at. The temple is unusually quiet and a nice place to sit and meditate. There is no pressure to do anything and you can just be yourself. Sure, every temple of every faith in the world is commercialized these days but you do not have to give in to it. Enjoy the architecture and the calm that a beautiful place of worship offers.
Of all the ghats in Varanasi, Manikarnika stands distinct eliciting awe and great respect. This is where human bodies are disposed off. Generally they are cremated, except in five cases - young kids under five, pregnant women, those who have died of cobra venom, those who have committed suicide, and the sanyasis. In the case of the last, the bodies are immersed into Ganga tied to a stone. Its really a wonder how the dead bodies don't contaminate the river. There are a number of explanations floated around, though some of them are eerie.
Manikarnika Ghat, is also popularly known as the Mahasmasana, is one of only two burning Ghats in Varanasi, the other being the equally significant Harishchandra Ghat. However, the Manikarnika Ghat is the more prominent among the two, and its origin dates back to countless centuries ago. According to Hindu mythology, the Ghat identifies itself closely with the twin lords Vishnu and Shiva. Placed at the center of the five tirthas, the Ghat symbolizes both creation and destruction. The belief runs among devotees that the burning of their dead ones here is a religious way to attain salvation or Moksha, that is, freedom from the cycle of life and death. The Ghat is known for its tranquility. Photography however, is strictly prohibited here.
Kedar Ghat is where one can have a dip in the holy Ganges river. The linga at the temple here is a swayambu and the energy here is very palpable. This is a holy site on the banks of Ganga where generally rites and prayers are conducted by purohits to propitiate one's ancestors. At the end of the rites, the offerings to ancestors are put on a leaf and sent down the holy river. Belief is that the ancestors will receive the offerings through the fishes in the river which eat them.
In Kedar Ghat, half-way up the ghat it is called Gauri Kund, named after Lord Siva’s wife, that is said to have healing properties. The best Sunrise and Sunset of Varanasi can be viewed from Kedar Ghat. Kedar ghat is the most pictresque Ghat among all the Ghats. Sri Sringeri Matt is also adjacent to Kedar Ghat. People come and perform in Maha Shivratri and Navaratri. A great place specially the Kedareshwar temple on this ghat is a must-visit place. The temple is a peaceful area and visitors are allowed to touch the Siva lingam which reminds one of Kedarnath temple in the Himalayas. The pooja in the temple is worth watching, either at sunrise or at sunset.
Kedar Ghat is medium-large in size with a decent amount of steps (alternatively painted red then white) with a couple of shrines and (what looks like) concrete pyres. The building at the top of the ghat is painted in the same red and white striped pattern, but horizontally. And unlike many other ghats, this one is unspoiled by graffiti.
This is one of the important places in Varaansai to visit. It is an important place of Buddhism. Everyone visiting Varanasi must visit Sarnath which is close by - about 8 kms from the cantonment area. Dhamek stupa and the area around it takes you back into history. For this is the exact spot from where Buddha preached his first sermon after getting enlightenment, to his 5 disciples. The area is well maintained and one can easily spend an hour walking around near the stupa and visiting the adjoining museum and temple.
Navneet Raman and his wife Petra Manefield do an amazing job running a state of the art gallery, showing the latest works by Varanasi artists and other areas of India. Friendly and knowledgeable, they also feature music events and have a residency program with housing and studios for visiting artists!
Their collections are shown in the other parts of the world and all shows are well-known and attended.
Kriti also offers a small gift shop featuring works from local and featured artists allowing visitors to take a piece of art home with them. If you'd like to keep the experience you have in Kriti Gallery with you, you'll be able to do so through books by Sheikh sold in the gift shop.
Kriti Gallery is a gallery that houses a history and culture of India as well as works of international artists who come to participate in making and also show art work in. Exhibitions here are very well conducted by the staffs who have great appreciation and knowledge about art and history of India.
The interior of the gallery is very beautiful – it has a clean white wall, beautiful local sandstone floor, a beautiful garden that houses art works at the right places (mural, and the relief carving just above the little pond, nice sitting area) He used photography as a medium to honor the experience of death and tried to comprehend its significance while he's trip to Benares (Varanasi) , one of India's sacred cities. All the photos were very well printed and presented, they had very well written exhibition statement in the entrance of the gallery that helped me read into the photographs in deeper level. I was very deeply touched by the exhibition and work itself, but I was so touched by the reverence that was paid to the artist and every individual frames of the series that were presented. I would love to have my work shown in this gallery.
At the end of the exhibition, there is a little shop as well where they sell pashmina scarves, miniature paintings, ceramic pieces as well as other books from past exhibitions.