Varanasi - As the place where Siddhārtha Gautama gave his first sermon to his disciples .
The name Varanasi has its origin possibly from the names of the two rivers Varuna and Assi, for it lies at the of the Varuna, with the Ganges being to its north, and the Asi, with the Ganges being to its south. Another speculation about the origin of the name is that the river Varuna itself was called Varanasi in olden times, from which the city got its name. This is generally disregarded by historians, though there may be some earlier texts suggesting it to be so.
Through the ages, Varanasi was variously known as Avimuktaka, Anandakanana, Mahasmasana, Surandhana, Brahma Vardha, Sudarsana, Ramya, and Kasi.
In the Rigveda, the city was referred to as Kasi or Kashi, "the luminous one" as an allusion to the city's historical status as a centre of learning, literature, and culture. Kasikhanda described the glory of the city in 15,000 verses in the Skanda Purana. In one verse, God Shiva says,
" The three worlds form one city of mine, and Kasi is my royal palace therein "Tourist Attractions in Varanasi
Jantar Mantar at Varanasi
The Jantar Mantar was built to measure the local time, the Sun's declination, altitude, the declination of stars, planets and to determine eclipses The Jantar Mantar at Varanasi has several masonry instruments to record the motion, speed and properties of stars and planets and study astronomy that are accurate and can still be used efficiently today. The Jantar Mantar incorporates multiple structures of unique form, each with a specialised function for astronomical measurement.
Archaeological museum, Sarnath is the oldest site museum of Archaeological Survey of India. In order to keep the antiquities found from the site, a decision was taken in 1904 by the Government to construct a site museum adjacent to the excavated site at Sarnath. It was due to initiative of Sir John Marshall, the then Director General of Archaeology in India, that this museum was created. The plans were prepared by Mr. James Ramson, the then consulting Architect to the Government of India. The building was completed in 1910 to house, display and study the antiquities in their right perspective. The building forms half of a monastery (Sangharam) in plan.
There are five galleries and two verandahs on the museum to display the antiquities ranging from 3rd century B.C. to 12th century A.D. found at Sarnath.
Bharat Kala Bhavan
Bharat Kala Bhavan has a great collection of miniature paintings from the courts of Mughals and other Kingdoms and principalities. Some of the important sections in the Bharat Kala Bhavan are Mahamana Malaviya gallery, Nicholas Roerich gallery, Chhavi (Painting Gallery), sculpture gallery, Nidhi (Treasures) gallery, sculpture gallery, archaeological gallery, decorative art gallery and Banaras through ages gallery.
The Ramnagar Fort lies about 14 km. from Varanasi and is situated on the opposite bank of river Ganges. It is the ancestral home of the Maharaja of Banaras. Maharaja Balwant Singh built this fort-palace in the eighteenth century. The fort is built in red sandstone. The Ramnagar fort has a temple and a museum within the grounds and the temple is dedicated to Ved Vyasa, who wrote Mahabharata, the great Indian epic. Legends have it that Ved Vyasa stayed here for a brief period.
The Ramnagar fort houses a museum displaying the royal collection which includes vintage cars, royal palkies[clarification needed], an armory of swords and old guns, ivory work and antique clocks.
The Ramlila is a cycle of plays which recounts the epic story of Lord Rama, as told in Ramacaritamanasa, the version of the Ramayana penned by Tulsidas. The plays sponsored by the Maharaja, are performed in Ramnagar every evening for 31 days. On the last day the festivities reach a crescendo as Rama vanquishes the demon king Ravana. Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh started this tradition of staging the Ramleela at Ramnagar in mid-nineteenth century.
Ghats in Varanasi
Varanasi has nearly 100 ghats. Many of the ghats were built when the city was under Maratha control. Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwes (Peshwas) stand out as patrons of present-day Varanasi. Most of the ghats are bathing ghats, while others are used as cremation sites. Many ghats are associated with legends or mythologies while many ghats are privately owned. The former Kashi Naresh owns Shivala or Kali ghat.
Hindu temples in Varanasi
Varanasi is a city of temples. Tilbhandeshwar temple is also one of the oldest temples in Varanasi. It is situated near Bengali Tola Inter College Pande Haweli.
Sarnath, 10 km from Varanasi, where the Buddha preached his first sermon in the Deer Park, contains the most impressive remains, as well as a modem temple. The Dharmarajika, Chaukhandi and Dharnek stupas are outstanding. There are also the remains of a monastery, and the beautifully polished Lion Capital of Ashoka.
Sarnath contains a rich library and at the Mula gandha Kutir Vihara there are excellent frescoes by Kosetsu Nosu. The Sarnath Museum, not far from the site, contains some of the finest specimens of Buddhist sculpture.
At all centers of Buddhist worship, the Vaisakha (April-May) full moon is observed as the anniversary of three important events - the Buddha's birth, Enlightenment and death, while the Asadh (July - August) full moon is observed as the anniversary of his first sermon.
Buddhist Tour Destinations