Varanasi Where Hindus Attain Salvation

by pateluday

A page on Varanasi in North India which is one of the seven holy cities. Discover the holy land of the Hindus, the prime pilgrimage destination and tourist hot spot.

Varanasi also called Benaras is situated on the banks of India's holiest river the Ganges. It is the oldest civilization in India and perhaps one of the oldest cities in the World. The destination is a pilgrimage center and the river Ganges offers salvation to those who are cremated in its folds.

Varanasi is much visited by foreign tourists who arrive here in thousands from many countries. They arrive here on spiritual quest and to understand Hinduism. This they do by witnessing rites and rituals and by discourses with the Hindu Holy men or the Sadhus.

The city is noted for its ghats or stepped embankments on Ganges and multitude of temples. The convoluted alleys some of them densely crowded are another surprise with chaos and conundrums that are a daily occurrence in the large towns of the country.

Ganges Photo

Holy River of India
Ganges River Bank
Ganges River Bank
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The Ganges

Holy River

Ahilya GhatThe Ganges emerges from the towering heights of Himalayas in Northern India. From the Northern Heights it descends to the plains and eventually submerges with Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh. It is not only a spectacle of countries turbulent geography  but also a wonder that knits humanity closely all through its travel.

Considered as the holiest river in India the shores are a major pilgrimage centers. Hindus worship many rivers as Mother Goddess but the Ganges attains the highest status.

The confluence of the holy river is at Devprayag where Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Rivers intermingle. At more than 12000 MSL Gaumukh and Khatling Glaciers are the origin of these rivers. At Devaprayag the confluence create Ganges which flows down nurturing many cities and settlements. Some of the popular places on the banks of this river are Haridwar, Rishikesh, Farkkubad, Kannauj, Kanpur, Kolkata, Allahabad and Varanasi. The last two are very important as pilgrimage centers while the former two top as long distance pilgrimage venues.     

Ganges Bank

Hindu Rites
Sun Rise on Ganges
Sun Rise on Ganges
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Rites Rituals & Prayers

Hindu Worship

Aarti at GhatThe stepped embankment at Ghats of Varanasi are places for worship. Numerous Sadhus or holy men perform rites and rituals for visiting pilgrims. Bathing at Ganges is considered as a pious act of extreme importance among the Hindus. 

Worshiping of deceased elders is also an important Hindu ritual. The prayers are performed by the holy men mostly Brahmins. Along with rituals a vast variety of hymns, songs and prayers are performed on the ghats.  

Holy Dip

The most important bath of one's life takes place at Ganga Banks. This absolves one of past sins and misdeeds. The bath is performed on many occasions as per the Hindu Calendar. Pilgrims come from far and wide to perform this important ritual. The holy dip has greater significance on many occasions.     

Maha Aarti 

This is an important event after a prayer/bhajan session that takes place in the evening. A group of pujaris perform this mass prayer. The session is scheduled in the evening. The prayers are performed using fire in a metal container or plate of copper or brass etc. The fire is created using clarified butter on a thick wick supported by kneaded flour.  This is a Vedic fire ritual called homa. This is a an ode to Lord using the elements of fire, water, air, earth and ether.

A large number of people partake in Maha Aarti and processions. For tourists this is an interesting event worthy of being described as spectacle. 

Dswamedh Ghat Aarti

Evening Aarti
Hindu Aarti
Hindu Aarti
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Videos of the Holy City in India

Banaras

Cremation at Ganges

Sunrise BoatingTo die at Ganges is considered a sacred event that takes one right to the heaven. This belief is based on the fact that Ganges descended unto earth  from heaven. Hence to meet one's end and be cremated here means ascent to heaven.

Ganges transgresses netherland, heaven and earth, hence she is trilok path gamini or one who travels betwixt three worlds.

Instant salvation is attained whence a deceased is cremated at Ganges else on can also attain by having his ashes immersed in the holy river. For the pious all roads lead to Ganga. Throughout its journey to the Indian Ocean its is a sight of deep fascination and reverence. Its landscape holds many geological wonders especially the mangroves bordering Bangladesh before its final deep. In between ins journey it creates one of the finest river systems giving birth to diverse ecosystems that support myriads of life forms.   

Morning View Ganga Ghat

Ganga Ghat
Ganga Ghat
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Ganges At Hardwar

Holy Ganges River
Ganges
Ganges
Ghanshyam

Temples & Ghats of Varanasi

Hindu Places of Worship

Aum Sign on Doors Varanasi a sacred town of Hindus is renowned for its temples which are spread all over the city more so at its ghats.

It is situated in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh in North.

Temples

Some of the popular temples of the city are:

  • Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir
  • Kashi Mandir
  • Bharat Mata Temple
  • Durga Temple
  • Tulsi Manas Temple 
  • Kala Bhairav Temple
  • Hindu SadhuMrituyanjaya Mahadeva Temple

Ghats

Ghats or stepped embankments are special feature of this holy city. They are situated all over the rivers around Varanasi. The Marathas were the most prominent rulers to build ghats and temples in and around the city. They are usually of two types: for bathing and for cremation. There are eighty four such stepped embankments here.

Some of the important ghats are:  

  • Harish Chandra Ghat (Cremation)
  • Manikarnika (Cremation
  • Dasaswahwamedh Ghat
  • Scindia Ghat
  • Man Mandnir Ghat 
  • Lalita Ghat

Varanasi is rich in architectural splendor with numerous temples, palaces and forts. The ancient cradle of civilization holds forth unto modern symbols as well.  The city has many palatial hotels, malls, cinemas and restaurants to compete with the modern World.  

Monastry at Varanasi

Place of Worship at Varanasi
Monastry
Monastry
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Tourism

Visitors

SadhuApart from pilgrims who arrive here in large number many people interested in sightseeing also visit the city. Of these impressive numbers arrive from foreign countries. The interaction with foreign tourists often takes place with the holy men at ghats and the city. These are the hub of activities that captivates with intrigue and absolute fascination.

The tourists at Varanasi Holy City are on spiritual quests for inner peace. This they do by listening to discourse by Hindu saints, learning meditation and yoga, taking part in prayers and rites and rituals. Apart from seeking inner peace the tourists also come to understand the complexities of ancient Hindu Religion and Vedas the scientific texts which originated more than five thousand years back. .

In order to visit the holy city you can join a package tour organized by a tour operators in India.

Updated: 04/11/2021, pateluday
 
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pateluday on 04/13/2021

Except Narmada circumambulation done on foot I have not heard of. I think people visit the banks of Ganges not necessarily on foot. Hindus believe in rituals and elements elements have special place during rituals, brass I think is favorite over copper but in some instance it could be reverse. I have not come across instance where silver, gold or platinum has special significance for a particular occasion since I am less religious.

Hindus believe in complete transformation after death and emancipation of the soul. The body has no significance. It is deemed respectful to immerse ashes in Ganges or Narmada Rivers or other scared places. From dust unto dust and the soul departs into its next journey or next life after entering another designated body depending upon the Karma.

DerdriuMarriner on 04/12/2021

pateluday, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
For the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail through Spain, it's supposed to be walked. Is a pilgrimage to Varanasi supposed to be walked? Is there a site that should be visited before or after Varanasi?
May Maha Aarti be performed with any metal container or might there be some effect or significance to, for instance, brass over copper or much more high-priced metals such as gold, platinum or silver instead of brass or copper?
Some people in the United States regard it disrespectful to the dead and to their next-world existence for their ashes to be separated whereas others think not. Should ashes in India stay together, albeit floating on and dispersed through the Ganges?

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