Member of
IATO - Indian Association Of Tour Operators
ASTA - American Society of Travel Agents
+91- 9711 84 5432
+91- 9616 73 1175 holyvoyages@gmail.com

About Varanasi – Tourism in Varanasi

  Truth of Varanasi

Popularly known as Benares, Banaras, Benaras, Varanasi, Kashi.

Nickname of Varanasi is “The spiritual capital of India”

Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together. "-Mark Twain"

Kasi or Varanasi is one of the most ancient, famous and holiest of the pilgrim centres. It is situated between two small streams that flow into the river Ganges, Varana on its northern border and Asi (or Assi) on its southern border, from whom it derives its name Varanasi. The name Kasi is derived from either its original founder or a dynasty that ruled it or the kingdom with which it was associated. According to another theory the place might have got its name from a grass named Kusa that grew wildly in the region where the city was built.

  Benaras – the cultural and religious centre in North India :-

The Kashi Naresh (Maharaja of Kashi) is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi and an essential part of all religious celebrations. The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river's religious importance. The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years. The Benares Gharana form of Indian classical music developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians resided or reside in Varanasi, including Kabir , Satguru Ravidass ji, Trailanga Swami, Munshi Premchand, Jaishankar Prasad, Acharya Shukla, Ravi Shankar, Girija Devi, Hariprasad Chaurasia, and Bismillah Khan. Tulsidas wrote Ramacharitamanas here, and Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath located near Varanasi (Kashi).

  Benaras the oldest living city in the world :-

Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. It is often referred to as Benares, and is the oldest living city in the world.

Varanasi is the home of Lord Shiva and Parvati but its origin is yet unknown. About Varanasi it is a belief of Hindus that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. It is also believed that Ganges in Varanasi has the power to wash away the sins of mortals.

  Varanasi a pilgrimage place for Jains :-

The city is a centre of learning and civilization for over 3000 years and culture, devotion to Gods, knowledge, philosophy, Indian arts and crafts has all flourished here for centuries. Sarnath which is just 10 km away from Varanasi is the place where Buddha preached his first sermon after enlightenment and is a symbol of Hindu renaissance. Varanasi is a pilgrimage place for Jains and is believed to be the birthplace of Parsvanath, the twenty-third Tirthankar.

In Varanasi Vaishnavism and Shaivism have co-existed cordially. Varanasi was chosen by Mrs. Annie Besant as the home for her 'Theosophical Society' and by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, to establish an institute 'Benares Hindu University' which is the biggest University in Asia. It is said that Ayurveda is originated at Varanasi and is believed to be the basis of modern medical sciences such as Cataract, Plastic surgery and Calculus operations. The preceptor of Ayurveda and Yoga, Maharishi Patanjali, was also affiliated with Varanasi, the holy city. Since the early days Varanasi is also famous worldwide for its trade and commerce, especially for the finest silks and gold and silver brocades.

  Varanasi – the cultural capital :-

For ages Varanasi has also been a great centre of learning. Varanasi is linked with encouragement of mysticism, spiritualism, yoga, Sanskrit and Hindi language and honoured authors such as the ever-famous novelist Prem Chand and Tulsi Das, the famous saint-poet who wrote Ram Charit Manas. Appropriately called as the cultural capital of India, Varanasi has provided the right platform for all cultural activities to flourish. Not only this many examples of dance and music have come from Varanasi. The internationally renowned Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, and the famous Shehnai player Ustad Bismillah Khan, are all sons of the blessed city or have lived here for major part of their lives.

  History of Varanasi – History of Kashi is older than the oldest history

Banaras (or Kashi or Varanasi) is one of the oldest cities in the world, which have been constantly inhabited.

Many-many generations of human life have been seen by this ancient city. Since very ancient time Banaras has seen the progress of human civilization. Because of this very fact this city has obtained the status of being the cultural capital of India.

If we look at the history of Banaras we will find that there are so many eras of the history of Varanasi few of them are discussed below:-

  Vedic Era – Varanasi – “The city of Shiva” :-

According to Hindu mythology Varanasi was founded by Lord Shiva and so is still called ‘The City of Shiva’; and in the city devotion to God Shiva can be seen in abundance.

From its own eyes Banaras has seen the Vedic religion flourishing. In ancient Hind scriptures such as Vedas, Upnishadas and Puranas several references to Kashi are frequently found.

Since the beginning of the history of Hinduism Banaras holds a divine and important status. It was referred as the holiest city of all in Upanishadas.

  Buddhist Era – Life of Buddhism started in Benaras in Buddhist era :-

In the Buddhist Era as well Banaras continued to keep its status of importance. There is lot about the city in Buddhist texts. The ship of Buddhism first sailed circa 528 BC, at the place known as Sarnath near Banaras, when Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon . It is believed by some scholars that as Banaras held significant power and importance in India that time so Buddha started the life of Buddhism here in Banaras only. The preachings of Buddha and Buddhism is significant enough to affect the religious belief of entire India.

Among the sixteen Mahajanpadas (refers to the sixteen kingdoms and oligarchic republics) of sixth to fourth centuries BC, Kashi was one of them with Varanasi as its Capital. Before the era of Buddha, among the sixteen mahajanpadas of India, Kashi was the most powerful.

Banaras was described as rich and prosperous place by the famous Chinese traveller Hiouen Thsang (Xuanzang), who travelled to Banaras circa 635 AD.

For Hinduism and Buddhism both; Banaras was important and while peaceful coexistence of religions was rare in the world but both these religions coexisted rather peacefully in Banaras.

  Muslim Invasion Era – Era of declination and suppression of Benaras

Banaras was loved even by Muslim kings and emperors. Unlike others their love for Banaras was slightly different. Unfortunately they loved Banaras for looting, attacking and demolishing; especially the Hindu buildings. In the year 1194 Qutb-ud-din Aibak, in the year 1376 Feroz Shah Tuglaq and in the year 1496 Sikander Lodi destroyed every old temple in Banaras. For centuries Banaras lived in the era of declination and suppression and lost thousands of its temples.

Under the Mughal dynasty till the second half of 16th century this suppression of native culture continued. Things got changed from the year 1556 when Akbar of Mughal Dynasty became the emperor. Even though Emperor Akbar belongs to a Muslim dynasty he was secular. During his reign Hinduism began to flourish again and he built several Hindu temples in city. However, the secular traditions of Akbar were not continued by his descendants; and they went back to the routine of suppression of Hinduism. During the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, Banaras again experienced major blows as he was particularly brutal against Hinduism.

  British Invasion Era – The last era after which Benaras got its independence

Mughal dynasty weakened considerably after the death of Aurangzeb. Since many Hindu landlords began standing against the Muslim rule so keeping hold on the regions began to become more difficult. Establishment of a Hindu king who would pay loyalty to the emperor was finally decided to deal with this problem. This dynasty of rulers of ‘the Benares State’ lasted till the independence from the British rule.

The first king of this dynasty was Mansa Ram and next to him, Balwant Singh became the king of the Benares State. With the aid of British, state of Banaras was disconnected from the Delhi rule as there was a crunch between Balwant Singh and Delhi Raja Balwant Singh. While keeping peace with the British, Raja Balwant Singh also managed to keep sovereignty of the state. But it was for a very short period as British grasp on the State of Benares continued to get stronger. This struggle was continued by Chait Singh after Balwant Singh. However soon in the British Raj, the Benares state was forced to remain only a princely state. Afterwards, by paying loyalty to the British Raj, Benares State remained a princely state.

  Post Independence Era of Benaras

On 15 August, 1947, India achieved the Independence.

As Varanasi serve as a major commercial centre in the eastern Uttar Pradesh state and western Bihar state so at present it has become a major city. Banaras is a notable centre of education because it holds 4 universities (including Banaras Hindu University – BHU, one of the most prominent universities in India).

Till date the religious and cultural importance of Banaras is maintained and is respected by Hindus and Buddhists in particular from entire world.

 Climate of Varanasi

Varanasi has a humid subtropical climate with the great fluctuations in the summer (around 22°C to 46°C with hot dry winds) and winter (about 5 °C with deep fog). The rainfall in Varanasi is normal which is around 1,110 mm annually.

 Population of Varanasi

Population of Varanasi is vast. During any celebration people from all over the world are attracted by the religious beliefs and cultural activities of Varanasi. Varieties of religions are there in Varanasi. Religions of Varanasi comprise of around 68% Hindus, 30% Muslims, 0.2% Sikhs, 0.2% Christians, less than 0.2% Buddhists, 1.4% Jains and 0.4% other religions. The urbanized area in Varanasi according to 2011 census has a population of 1,435,113 of which 761,060 of the total population were males and 674,053 of the total population were females. Whereas, the total population according to 2001 census was 1,371,749 of which 138,000 people from the municipal area is living in the slums.

  Benaras Tourism or Tourism in Varanasi

For tours and tourism every year Varanasi is the famous and striking place in India. Around 3 million Indians (generally from UP, MP, Bihar, West Bengal etc) and 200,000 foreigners (generally from USA, China, Sri Lanka, Japan etc) visit Varanasi every year for the religious reasons. Because of the increasing number of malls, three star and five star hotels, dharamshalas, multiplexes, multi specialty hospitals etc Varanasi is now developing economically very fast.

  Religious Festivals of Varanasi

A large crowd of the devotees are driven by the variety of fairs and festivals in Varanasi such as Mahashivaratri, Ganga Mahotsav , Deepawali , Dev Deepawali , Hauman Jayanti , Ramlila , Bharat Milap , Nag Nathaiya , Nakkatayya , Dhrupad Mela Vijayadashami etc.

  Transport in Varanasi

Whether it is road line, railway line or airline Varanasi has very convenient transports. For railways the stoppage is at Varanasi junction or Varanasi Cantt Railway Station and Manduadih Railway station. Airport of Varanasi is Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport or Babatpur Airport. In Varanasi 24 hrs transport facility is available.

  Languages spoken in Varanasi

Official Languages: Hindi, English, Urdu

Other Language: Bhojpuri

Top Things to do in Varanasi

Varanasi Tour Packages

View Varanasi Tour Packages