Varanasi is a city of legend.
Ganges is a sacred river. According to legend, it carries its waters straight from the shores of paradise. Once the Ganges rushed from Heaven to earth to wash away people’s sins. This has been going on ever since – bathing in holy waters is considered the highest good. Varanasi, standing on the banks of the Ganges, is considered not only a place where you can wash away all sins and cleanse your soul, but also the place where it is best to go on your last journey. Because it is here, in the eternal city of Varanasi, that immortality can be attained.
The foundation of the city is rooted in very distant antiquity. It is believed that this happened at least 5 thousand years, although in India they are sure that Varanasi has always been. At least, it is precisely established that this is the oldest city on Earth, where life has not been interrupted throughout the history of its existence.
This unique city, which has the same significance for the Hindus as the Vatican for the Catholic world, is located in the north-east of India, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Once Varanasi was not only a religious center. Culture, science and art flourished here. But about 1000 years ago, the city of hundreds of temples and rich libraries had a very difficult time – its conquest by Muslims brought grief and terrible destruction – many temples were destroyed, libraries burned down, many enlightened people died. But the spirit of the city remained. And it is thanks to him that to this day thousands of people flock to the banks of the Great River in the holy city. On the steps descending to the water – ghats, special structures built to perform rites of ablution or cremation, the bodies of the dead are burned every day. So sick, dying people from all over the country,
The climate is humid subtropical. Summer is long and hot, lasting from April to October. Due to the cold air blowing from the Himalayas, the temperature from December to February is below 5 degrees, fogs are also not uncommon in winter.
Transport. You can travel around the city by bus (the fare will be about 5 rupees). The bus stop is located near the main railway. station. In Varanasi, as well as throughout India, rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are a common means of transport.
Kitchen. At the Lotus Lounge you can taste real Tibetan cuisine – Tibetan curry, Tibetan “momo” (a dish somewhat similar to dumplings) and Goan specialties. And in the Indian restaurant El Parador, you should try homemade pasta, chicken souvlaki (kebabs on wooden skewers) and pancakes. North Indian and Afghan dishes are prepared at the Varuna Restaurant – thali (assorted vegetarian dishes) and tandoori kebab. Among the local drinks, you should try Bang (Bhang), which is a powdered form of marijuana, and Thandai milk drink with pistachios, almonds and malai cream.
Varanasi has a large number of temples, the most notable of which are the Vishwanath Temple, also known as the Golden Temple; temple Kaal Bhairav Temple, dedicated to the formidable form of Shiva, embodying death. Also of interest are the Tulsi Manas Temple, Durga Temple, Gowdi Matha Temple, a Nepalese Hindu temple built in the Nepalese style, and the Alamagir mosque overlooking the Panchganga Ghat. The Jantar Mantar observatory was built to determine local time, eclipses, the movement of the sun and planets, and contains unique instruments for astronomical measurements. In Varanasi there is an archaeological museum with antiquities dating back to the 3rd century BC. BC e. and ending in the 12th century. n. e. Ram Nagar Fort was built from red sandstone in the 18th century. and is located 14 km from Varanasi on the other side of the Ganges. The fort has a museum and a temple, dedicated to the ancient Indian poet Vyasa, who wrote the Mahabharata. Chunar Fort, which is the ruins of ancient settlements, is located 25 km from Varanasi. Sarnath Deer Park is considered one of the most sacred places for Buddhists – here the Buddha delivered his first speech after enlightenment. A unique feature of Varanasi, a place of pilgrimage and an attraction for tourists are the ghats, which are a series of steps leading down to the river. It is considered auspicious for Hindus to die in Varanasi, which is why some of the ghats are a kind of crematoria.
Developments. Diwali is celebrated annually in Varanasi as a festival of lights, symbolizing the victory of good over evil, when candles and lanterns are lit throughout the city. The city also hosts the Shivaratri festival in honor of the god Shiva, when believers read stories about Shiva and sing hymns in his honor, after which a fair opens on the river bank.