Varanasi is often referred to as one of the oldest and holiest cities in India. Situated on the banks of river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, the city attracts visitors not only from various parts of the country but also from across the globe. Also known as Banaras and Kashi, the city is considered to be one amongst the seven holy cities in the country to the followers of Hinduism.
Varanasi is one city which is witness to the almost every aspect of an individual's life from their birth to death. A belief exists amongst many that if one passes away here, their soul is freed from the cycle of rebirth and attains salvation. The ancient city attracts visitors in large numbers for various reasons; some may come for the spiritual rejoice, some for its historical values and few others come to enjoy the various spectacles which open out to one.
Also Read: 6 Must Do Things When In Varanasi
All said and done, Varanasi is an ancient city which is a fine example of how ancient culture and modernity go hand in hand. If all these reasons do not excite you enough, read on to find out a number of others.
1. For Being The Oldest City
The holy city, which draws millions to its renowned ghats every year to take dip in Ganga, is as old as the Indus Valley Civilisation. As per a recent study, the city is said to be about 6000 odd years old and is considered as the spiritual capital of the country.
However, the place is believed to have had settlements which date back to the Indus Valley Civilisation and not older to it. The city gets its name from two rivers, Varuna and Assi, put together to form Varanasi.
There is also a belief which says that the city stands on the Trident of Lord Shiva. The city finds its name in various Hindu scriptures, such as the Vedas, Puranas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
2. For Its Colourful Festivals
The festival of colours paints the city in various hues and shades, which give its ghats and alleys a fresh and colourful look. Celebrations of Holi attract a large number of foreigners who come to watch the place getting drenched in a sea of multiple colours.
The next festival celebrated here on a grand scale is Diwali; during this time, the ghats are packed with pilgrims and earthen lamps which add a special charm to the holy city. Since the place is very closely associated with Lord Shiva, Maha Shivaratri is also celebrated on a grand scale.
3. For The Ganga Aarti
Performed every evening on the ghats, it is the sight where science and religion come to an end and the emotions of human and their beliefs are supreme. When you watch this magnificent river, you realise that the river does have a soul of its own.
The spectacle of thousands of people who come together to offer their prayers with heads bowed, palms folded in devotion and the sight of small lamps floating in the waters is truly capturing.
4. For The Banarasi Sari
Thousands of brides, have worn the famed Banarasi silk on their wedding day. It all began with the silk weavers from Gujarat migrating to Banaras in the 17th century due to a famine in 1603.
The ancient city is well known for its zari and brocade textiles and get their names as per the patterns woven in them. The saris are considered to be one of the finest silks and have always kept the womenfolk beautiful.
5. For The Delicious Street Food
When it comes to food, like most other aspects of the city, it is one of the best places in the country to relish some of the best chats in the country.
One would come across a large number of specialties and would get almost anything starting from tikkis to paani puri, dahi vadas to litti chokhas, which is the local specialty.
6. For Wise Advice From Sadhus
When in Varanasi, you come across a large number of sadhus/babas. While some of them would be available to you for an intense conversation about life, karma and dharma, there are the elusive ones as well; the Naga Sadhus, who are not easy to interact with, generally keep away from the glare of the public.
7. For The Boat Rides In Ganga
PC: Navaneeth Kishor
Varanasi is a city all about boat rides in the waters of Ganga. The most popular spot to hire a boat is the Dashashwamedh Ghat, which is located right at the heart of the ancient city.
The boat rides are one of the mediums to enjoy the sunrise and sunset along with the Ganga aarti. The rates for a boat ride are negotiable and would cost you about INR 125 per person for an hour and INR 500 for a private boat.