Visit The Ancient City Of Varanasi By The River Ganges

A city as old as time. A city that has seen the world turn, tides change and generations of humans born and die. Varanasi or Kashi, which has been standing the tests of time for over 5,000 years is said to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. In Mark Twain’s words, “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”
What draws millions of pilgrims from all over the world to the city of Varanasi is the fact that it is one of the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism. Called the spiritual capital of India, this magnificent city of learning radiates endless energy. Despite being witness to ancient civilizations come and go over centuries, Varanasi is still alive, unabashedly colourful, vibrant, and wonderfully rich in history and legends.
Varanasi Sacred Walks, a program by Isha Sacred Walks, offers you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of embarking on a journey to experience this holiest of cities. Here are seven reasons you should not miss the chance to be a part of this incredible experience.
Varanasi, the holy ‘City of Light’ shines bright, both physically and metaphorically. It is believed that a single dip in the holy waters of the Ganges can wash away a lifetime of sins. According to legend, Varanasi was founded by the Lord Shiva and was his favourite abode. In one verse of the ancient religious text of Skanda Purana, Shiva says, “The three worlds form one city of mine, and Kāśī is my royal palace therein.”
In Varanasi, the most natural and inevitable cycle of life and death is celebrated and revered with as much gusto. Also known as ‘Maha-smashana’ or ‘The Great Cremation Grounds’, the holy city humbles you by bringing you face to face with the balance of life and death.
A boat ride across the sacred Ganges, perfectly captures the spirit of Varanasi. Countless candlelit paper boats with flowers carrying people’s prayers, float their way across the waters. Countless pilgrims take a holy dip in the waters, others meditate in solitude and the rest bow their heads in prayer along the Ghats. As the sun goes down, the evening ritual of worship, called the Ganga Aarti, unfolds.
Varanasi was the original hub of art, culture, spirituality and music. Many prominent Indian saints, philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians live or have lived in Varanasi. Several major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi, including Kabir and Ravidas.
Varanasi is home to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, one of the most important places of worship in the country, considered to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, holding great significance in the spiritual history of India.
Near Varanasi is the 1500-year-old Mahabodhi Temple marking the spot of the legendary Bodhi tree, under which Buddha meditated and attained enlightenment. Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath, near Varanasi, thereby giving birth to Buddhism.
For all this and more, a journey to this city with the Varanasi Sacred Walks is an intensely spiritual experience, complete with the inclusion of meditation sessions, sathsangs, spiritual processes and much more. The five-day trip will take you through the Kalabhairava Temple, Mahamrityunjaya Temple, Vishalakshi Temple, Manikarnika Ghat and includes a boat ride in the Ganges, Mangala Arati at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and the free time to explore Varanasi, its streets, its ancient marketplaces and other cultural delights. The journey also includes sacred Buddhist destinations in Bodhgaya and Sarnath. The Varanasi Sacred Walks is not like any other pilgrimage, it’s a chance to transform yourself and soak in the essence of the spiritual capital of India.
With our team of highly skilled, trained and dedicated teachers and volunteers ever ready to help you with every step you take on this memorable journey, you will be enveloped in a sense of endless energy, tranquility and oneness. Come be a part of this beautiful and enlightening journey with us. “The holiest of the holy sites in the east is Kashi or Banaras as it is known today. Kashi is held as the core of the universe.” The best season to visit Varanasi is between October and March when the temperatures are a in a comfortable range of 5-15 degrees Celsius. This is a good time to be out sightseeing as the weather is pleasant and very cool.
The winter months are also when festivals are celebrated with enthusiasm and fervour in Varanasi. Dussehra and Bharat Milap are celebrated in quick succession in September/October followed by the festival of lights – Diwali. the Ganga Festival also takes place in November and this is the time when people come from far and near to pay obeisance to the holy river – Ganges.
The summer lasts from April to September/October and it gets really hot at this time with the temperatures shooting up to 45 degrees C at the height of the seasaon in May and June. The rains come in July and August bringing the temperatures down marginally but the humidity levels rise. Between May and June hot dry winds or ‘loo’ as it is called in local parlance, blow through the city making it quite impossible to be out in the day time sightseeing.
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