Known for being one of the holiest and oldest cities in India, this holy city Varanasi dates back to 5,000 BC and is a major site for Hindu pilgrimage. Sitting comfortably on the banks of the Holy River Ganga, a Varanasi holiday will take you across this enigmatic holy centre, where the air is laden with the mystifying fragrance of incense; narrow streets filled with sweet scent of fresh flowers. The Ghats and temples are ever teeming with people seeking divine intervention.
If you are planning on visiting this ancient and sacred town, then here are a few attractions that should not be missed.
Top 8 Spiritual Sites to Visit Holy City Varanasi, India
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Established in 1780 and dedicated to Lord Shiva this divine temple is one of the best temples in Varanasi. The temple is home to three pure gold domes which rise up to a height of 15.5 metres, and has 3,000 visitors a day.The temple is close to the banks of the River Ganga, and often sees well-known visitors such as saints and scholars from all over the world; including Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, Goswami Tulsidas and Gurunanak amongst others.
- Cell phones, cameras, belts with metal buckles, cigarettes, and lighters are not allowed inside the temple premises.
- Temple timings: 4 am to 11 am / 12 pm to 8:30 pm
Holy city Varanasi is home to a lively collection of Ghats by the holy River Ganga. One of them being Dashashwamedh Ghat, which is one of the most magnificent Ghats in this ancient town. Named after the event when Lord Brahma had sacrificed 10 horses here, this Ghat was built by Peshwa Bajirao in 1748. Devotees gather here in order to perform different puja rituals and religious activities. In the evening it is the site for the glorious and endearing Ganga Aarti hindu ceremony involving fire, which adorns the entire bank of River Ganga; while in the morning it is the site for rejuvenating walk or meditation.
- Refrain from littering this holy and sacred site.
- Aarti timings: 7 pm to 7:45 pm (summer); 6 pm to 6:45 pm (winter)
This 17th century fort magnificently sits on the eastern bank of the Holy River Ganga. This is the perfect spot to get some peace from the ever bustling streets as well as Ghats of Varanasi to gaze at the setting sun. Moreover, the palace also houses a museum within it which displays a collection of vintage American cars; chairs with jewels adorned on them; a magnificent weapon collection along with a unique astrological clock. Plan and visit this place during Ram Leela when the vibrant celebrations take place in the compound close to this fort palace.
- Fort timings: 10 am to 12 pm / 2 pm to 4:30 pm (all days of the week)
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir
This temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Hanuman and was established during the early 1500s by the famous Hindu preacher, poet and saint, Sri Goswami Tulsidas. This holy site is on the bank of River Assi, close to Banaras Hindu University. People said that the temple was built exactly on the spot where Tulsidas (the author of Ramcharitmanas) had a vision of Lord Hanuman himself. On an everyday basis thousands of devotees of Lord Rama and Lord Hanuman flock here to offer their prayer.
- Best time to visit: November to February
New Vishwanath Temple
Situated inside the premises of Banaras Hindu University, this temple is among one of the biggest local tourist attractions and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple has the tallest temple tower in the world and the construction last a duration of 35 years. Furthermore, there are nine temples within the temple and welcomes people from all the different castes, religion and beliefs. The entire temple’s design was deeply inspired by the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir. And is primarily made of marble.
- Temple timings: 4 am to 11 am / 12 pm to 7 pm
Tulsi Manas Mandir
This temple holds the reputation of being one of the most visited temples in the holy city Varanasi. In fact, it holds immense importance and relevance in the hearts of devout Hindus. Since this is the exact place where the Hindu epic Ramcharitmanas was written originally by the poet, saint and a worthy reformer and philosopher, Goswami Tulsidas during the 16th century. The entire temple is adorned with paintings and sculptures depicting the events from Ramcharitmanas. Undoubtedly, a visit there will fill you with immense peace and calm.
- Temple timings: 5:30 am to 12 pm / 3:30 pm to 9 pm
The construction took place during the 18th century with dedication to goddess Durga; this temple holds immense religious importance to devout Hindus. The style of the architecture is the North Indian Nagara style, painting the entire temple in red. You can spot it from kilometers away. In addition, the temple itself is full of appealing and intricate carvings and engravings dedicated to the presiding deity. There is also a Durga Kund (pond) present near the temple where various religious processions and rituals take place.
- Temple timings: 5 am to 12 pm / 12 pm to 4 pm
Finally, this is the southernmost Ghat in the holy city Varanasi. It is known for being one of the most favoured Ghats in Varanasi for festivals and recreation activities. On a daily basis this Ghat sees almost 300 people while during festival days it has up to 2500 visitors. This vibrant Ghat has numerous engaging activities taking place, including boat rides, daily talent shows; hot air balloon rides and numerous eating joints. In fact, this Ghat is the place where Tulsidas is said to have passed on to his heavenly abode.
- Ghat Aarti timings: 5 am to 5:30 am (morning) / 7 pm to 7:30 m (evening)