WEAVER'S WORLD / BENARAS / PLACES TO VISIT - 4
As one of the large ghats there is plenty of activity here. The majority of the steps are painted in red and white alternatively, and there is a religious shrine located there. The locals enjoy the early evening since this one of the better ghats and where the nightly religious ceremonies take place.
Chaukhandi Stupa is very near to the archaeological survey of India museum and Thai monastery of Sarnath. One can get a very scenic view of the giant Buddha statue situated at Thai monastery from here. The Stupa is an octagonal structure situated at the top of a hillock where Lord Buddha first met his disciples after his enlightenment.
Malviya Bridge, inaugurated in 1887 (originally called The Dufferin Bridge) is a double decker bridge over the Ganges at Varanasi. It carries rail track on lower deck and road on the upper deck. It is one of the major bridges on the Ganges and carries the Grand Trunk Road across the river. You have to travel approx 12 km from the city to reach this bridge. You can enjoy panoramic view of Varanasi city from this bridge as it is located northern side of the city. It was named Malviya bridge in 1948 after Madan Mohan Malviya. The total length of the bridge is said to be more than 1000 meters & is the only bridge that connects Varanasi and Mughalsarai which is a major railway junction. On a clear day not only can you view all the way to the other side of the city but it also allows you a good view of all the prominent Ghats of Varanasi.
Man Mandir Ghat build by Raja Man sigh is one of the Ghats to be visited, for its beautiful Balcony which makes it unique among all Ghats. The main feature of this ghat is the observatory on the roof of the palace. Built by Man Singh in the early 18th century, it is said to be incredibly accurate in its measurements. A more compact version of the ones in Jaipur and Delhi, yet it is thoroughly fascinating in itself. Man Mandir ghat is on the steps below of the Man Sigh Vedhshala (The Observatory - like the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur). Man Madir Vedhshala was created by Raja Man Sigh who was interested in geometric calculations of the universe. The observatory has a sun dial and other instruments to measure the time, eclipse and etc.
Harischandra Ghats is one of the most visited Ghats in Varnasi, since its one of the two cremation Ghats in Varanasi considered the most sacred for cremation. As per popular Hindu belief, a person cremated at Harishchandra Ghat gets "moksha" or salvation. Harishchandra Ghat, the oldest and most important Ghats of Varanasi is named after a mythological King Harishchandra ( forefather of Lord Rama) who was known for his being steadfast in the pursuit of truth despite any adversity including the death of his own son, whom he had to consign to the flames with his own hands.
This place is in Saranath, visited by many foreign tourist visiting the Buddhist temple in Saranath. This place gives a nice flavor of the local Indian culture to tourists – like the bullock cart ride, arts and crafts mela and various other village activities. The ambience peaceful and the food tasty make it a welcome getaway.
The Bharat Mata temple, in Varanasi houses a relief map of undivided India and is the only temple dedicated to Mother India. The temple is situated inside the premises of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth. A small temple with a map of India is built on ground. One noticeable thing is that the map's surface is elevated according to its surface level above sea. The map is made from marble. It is fascinating to see the high plateau, the high mountains and the large plains of India.
The facts of trivia like the landmass of undivided India with the sea is a perfect square and other interesting tidbits make for interesting information. The effort undertaken to model each feature is amazing especially in a time and age when technology was not as advanced as it is today.
Darbhanga Ghat located south of Dasaswamedh Ghat stands next to Rana Mahal Ghat. This palace was built in the early 1900s by the royal family of Bihar. Darbhanga Ghat has a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The palace building of Darbhanga Ghat is made of sandstone with beautiful porches and Greek pillars. This palace had a lift which was operated by hand but it is said to be out of operation. There is also a building nearby that is used for performing religious rituals. Darbhanga Ghat is an extended form of Munshi Ghat. One can cover all the ghats by taking a boat from Assi Ghat and Varun Ghat. It is delightful in the early hours before the Sunrise, to take a view of all the ghats.
St. Mary's Church
One of the oldest churches in Varanasi, known as Church of England due to its architectural charm of almost 200 years, it was a place of worship used and constructed by Indian Army and now a good tourist destination. It is located near JHV mall in Cantonment area of Varanasi. This is by far the oldest known church in the city and oldest standing garrison church in South Asia. It was established by Rev George Wheatley, an English Officer, in 1810. The church has a glorious history. Queen Elizabeth II of England visited the church in 1960. It was used as a place of worship by British Army and other members of European Community at that time. Currently, it is maintained by The Indian National Trust for Art, Culture & Heritage (INTACH). This is one of the most beautiful and well maintained churches in Varanasi. Though Varanasi is a predominant Hindu dominated city the residents are very secular and do not hesitate to visit places of worship other than that of their own religion like Mosques, Churches and Gurudwaras.
The fort has a few sections including two museums. These could be of interest to those interested in History. Glass separating the exhibits, there's one that houses a collection of old cars. The grounds and buildings inside are worth a quick look at. Nothing spectacular but definitely worth a few photos and a walk around. There are a few old, historical cannons placed around on display and a couple of grassed areas - one that has a central statue, another with a fountain. the lawns are well-maintained. The fort section that backs onto the Ganga River (eastern bank) has nice views and a few sections to explore.
It quite beautiful and the history is pretty amazing. There was a Beni Madhav Mandir (Vishnu temple) and Aurangzeb (the last Mughal Emperor of India) demolished it and built the mosque in its place. People forget that certain remains of the Beni Madhav temple are still there, very close to the mosque. The mosque is beautiful; a replica of the famous Jama Masjid of Delhi.
Thai Temple is one of the most important Buddhist shrines in Sarnath near Varanasi. This Thai Temple is being managed by a Thai Buddhist Monk and this holy destination carries the colorful structure and style of Thailand. The temple was built in a unique architectural style and near this shrine is situated a huge Buddha statue - the major attraction of this place. People choose to visit this temple not only out of devotion but also for the serenity of the atmosphere. Also the lush greenery here with various species of trees and shrubs makes this place worth a visit.
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