WEAVER'S WORLD / BENARAS / PLACES TO VISIT - 1
All the ghats are interconnected. They are one after another. One can walk through each ghat and enjoy and see the river Ganga alongside. Every ghat has its own story. The ghats and activities around them are the watched events at Varanasi. The evening Aarti at RP Ghat and Dasaswamedh Ghat, the morning boat ride at sunrise, the walk by the ghats and spending time there are activities of most who visit Benaras, an emotional experience, a remembrance for a lifetime. The Manikarnika ghats otherwise also known as the burning Ghats, is supposed to be having an eternal fire that has a fire burning for the last 2500 Years. The Ganga Aarti itself is quite a moving experience for many, in the evening boat ride, peaceful despite the fog and boats all around.
There are nearly 100 ghats in Varanasi. The famous and oldest ghats of all these are the Dashashwamegha, Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghat. Some of the ghats have been made there by Hindu rulers such as Ahilya Bai Holkar of Malwa region, Peshwas of Gwalior, Man Singh of Amber, Jai Singh of Jaipur etc. Some of the famous personalities of Benaras have named the ghats on their own name. Munshi Ghat is after Hindi poet the Munshi Premchand, Tulsi ghat is after Hindu poet Tulsidas who has written Ramcharitmanas. Many ghats are associated with the legends in Varanasi like the former Kashi Naresh owns Shivala or Kali ghat. Most of the ghats have been made at the time of Maratha. Marathas, Holkars, Bhonsles, Shindes (Scindias), and Peshwes (Peshwas) have been patrons of present-day Varanasi.
This place hosts one of the most popular aartis in the evening. You may want to get a view of the Ganga Aarti from one of the boats. The place is really lively and full of energy due to visitors. Lively colourful and at night the nightly sunset celebrations, watching from the Ganges are worth the journey... and then getting up before sunrise to take a boat and watch the river banks wake up.
There is a huge market outside the ghat for people who like street shopping of clothes footwear and religious stuff. One of the oldest and most important ghats, the Dashashwamedh Ghat is also Varanasi's liveliest. Two Hindu beliefs are associated with the ghat, one being that Lord Brahma created it to welcome Lord Shiva and another where he sacrificed ten horses during the yajna that was performed here. Around dusk the Dashashwamedh Ghat comes to life with the evening Ganga Aarti. Performed by young pundits dressed in saffron, the aarti is an elaborate ceremony complete with puja, dance and fire. The riverbank lights up with flaming lamps and the smell of sandalwood envelopes the ghat.
Sarnath is a important Buddhist destination of India, a place where Gautam Buddha preached dharma to his first five disciples. The place is known for Iconic Buddhism flavour all around. The stupa, remains of ancient architecture and Buddhist temple is worth exploring. This international place is well maintained as compare to Varanasi city's standard. Sarnath, the deer park, where Buddha preached his fist sermon, isn't far out of Varanasi & the ruins, museum & temple are within walking distance of each other. The grounds of the ruins are very well kept, very peaceful to wander around & one can take in the expanse of the ruins.
After Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya he came to Sarnath. Here in the Deer Park, he delivered his first sermon, or in religious language, set in motion the wheel of Law (maha- Dharmachakra Pravartan). The Emperor Ashoka, who spread the Buddha’s message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, visited Sarnath around 234BC,and erected a stupa here. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD, and today it presents the most expansive ruins among places on the Buddhist trail. Sarnath is 10 km from Varanasi, and is an exceedingly tranquil place. The ruins, the museum and temple are all within walking distance. Free WiFi is also available here.
Sarnath known as Isipatana, where Buddha travelled after his enlightenment to meet his 5 companions (Koudanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Asvajita) is one of the most important Buddhist Pilgrimage sites to visit when in Varanasi. One of the beliefs of Buddhists is to walk around the Stupas 108 times clockwise to attain enlightment.A peaceful place easily accessed from Varanasi.
Assi Ghat is probably the perfect starting point for exploring the Ganges. At 5 A.M. in the morning, it is just the perfect time for the Ganga Aarti. One can have hot tea and then take a boat ride along the Ganges, viewing all the famous Ghats from Assi to Harishchandra and many more. Early morning ensures perfect light and temperature. It is one of the most recommended ghats of Varanasi. The ghat has been cleaned in recent times, thanks to Shri Narendra Modi, our Prime Minister who started a campain to clean this Ghat. Assi Ghat is the southernmost Ghat in Varanasi. The ghat is a sacred place as pilgrims offer prayers to a huge Shivalingam placed under a peepal tree after bathing in the river. It is believed that Goddess Durga, after killing the asuras, Shumbha-Nishumbha, had thrown her sword at a place, which resulted in the origin of a huge stream, known as Assi River.
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