Feel the presence of Mahadev: Kashi
Kashi is a small city in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. It is a small holy city blessed with mother Ganga in the northern part of India. This place is on the priority list of every devout Hindus in India. According to them a pilgrimage to Kashi is equivalent to witness God’s glory. There is a belief that only those who have done fewer misdeeds in their lives are allowed by Biswanath or Lord Shiva to make a pilgrimage up to Kashi.
Kashi Yatra – A Divine Trip
The helicopter view of Kashi reflects a little India – it is said that Kashi portrays India of various traditions, many religions, and with thirty-three crore deities and gods. The major highlight of Kashi is The Ganga, and the pilgrims are the heartbeat of this place. They come here to take a bath in the sacred water of Ganga and perform funeral rites. Tourists coming to Kashi feel a divine spirituality spread in the air of Kashi.
This city has a supernatural power to attract the visitors from all over the world. One must visit this heavenly place to observe the purity of Kashi. In this regard, the viewpoint of Sadhguru (the founder of Isha Foundation) on Kashi Yatra can be highlighted.
When Sadhguru was asked by his followers that why he is doing Kashi Yatra as he is getting old, his answer left everyone speechless.
Sadhguru gracefully states that to him Kashi is like an instrument which brings a union between the micro and macro. He believes that anything that is created in the world is cosmogenic. To explain everything is pre-planned in this universe, nothing is a random happening.
Forming a city like Kashi needs a massive effort, or almost impossible. It was made thousands of years ago. He considers Kashi as a larger vast body. The whole procedure acts as a display of a mega human body to make contact with a larger vast body.
One can be easily connected to the vast body by visiting Kashi. He concludes his answer with a question to his followers as for why would the pilgrims leave Kashi when they get connected to the universal nature, why would they go anywhere else? This was it.
There is a beautiful story behind this city. Lord Shiva lived in the higher region of greater Himalaya. But when he got married to Parvati, comprise had to be made. Being a gentleman, he decided to move to the plains. He preferred Kashi as Kashi was the most beautifully built city at that time.
Gods were bit tensed regarding Kashi. They thought the place might lose its esteem as there was no king to rule the region. They asked Divodasa to become the king.
Shiva had to leave Kashi for a political reason as Divodasa asked Shiva to exit the place before he starts ruling. Divodasa was afraid that if Shiva stays in Kashi, no one would listen to him or respect him. Lord Shiva along with Parvati left Kashi. Then after so many ups and downs, a time came when Divodasa was tempted to liberation and left the place. Lord Shiva came back to Kashi.
The primary purpose of visiting Kashi is to appease one’s forefathers by some systematically performed Vedic rituals. In all over India Kashi is the most popular place to do the Vedic rites for their ancestors. So Kashi experiences massive crowd all over the year. Each ritual performed in Kashi is very significant and takes about half a day.
The Kashi Yatra mainly covers Kashi, Allahabad, and Gaya.
Rituals at Allahabad: Triveni Sangam
- Vigneshwara Puja: Prayer to Ganesha, Ganesh Vandana.
- Prayashchitta Sankalpam: Reparation of sins committed, consciously or unconsciously.
- Veni Danam: in this ritual married proffer their hair to Ma Ganga and pray for the long life of their husbands. Then the husband plaits his wife’s hair, decorate it with flowers around, cuts off the tip and offer it to the river. There is a strange fact that almost all the married women visiting Kashi proffer their hair in the water. In Sangam, it immediately sinks to the river water, and no trace of hair would be found, whereas in general hair usually floats on the water.
- Triveni Sangam Snanam: In this rite husband and wife bathe together holding hands at the confluence of three rivers; Yamuna, Ganga and mythical Saraswati.
- Hiranya Srardham
- Pinda pradanam, Kshetra pindam, Tarpanam
To complete the rituals at Kashi, it takes around two days. In the first day Manikarnika Shrardham and on the second day, Pancha Teertha Shrardham famous. The devotees go to complete the rituals at Gaya and return to Kashi for Ganga Puja and finally visit the temples in Kashi.
Rituals at Kashi
- Vigneshwara Puja Prayer to Ganesha, Ganesh Vandana.
- Poorvanga Godaanam
- Poorvanga Dasa Danaam
- Nandhi Shrardham
- Vaishnava Shrardham
- Punya Vajanam: A ritual to purify
- Maha Sankalpam
- Pryashchitta Sankalpam: Reparation of sins committed, consciously or unconsciously.
- Pala Daanam
- Uttaranga Godaanam
- Manikarnika Teertha Shrardham: Anna Rupam/ Hiranya Rupam
- Pancha Teertha: One need to go the five Ghats mentioned below and performs the rituals:
- Assi Ghat (Haridwar Teertham): This is where Assi river mingles with Ganga. It is the southernmost Ghat of Varanasi.
- Dashashwamedha Ghat (Rudra Sarovara Teertham): According to the Puranas, this is the place where Brahma performed ten Ashwamedha Yagnas. From then this place is considered as a sacred place to perform rites.
- Trilochana Ghat: Vishnu Paada Udaka Teertham
- Panchaganga Ghat: It is the place where five blessed rivers converge to form a spectacle and overwhelming beauty of holiness. The rivers are Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Dhupapapa, and Kirana.
- Manikarnika Ghat: Manikarnika Teertham, Chakra Pushkarni Teertham.
- Ganga Puja: This is a kind of tradition in which small secured containers full of Ganga water are meant to distribute among the family member of the devotees.
- Dampati Puja: In this ritual, devotion is offered to an aged married couple invoking them as Vishwanath and Annapurna.
All these rituals are done every day by thousands of pilgrims in Kashi with strong belief and devotion. The entire circle of this rites and rituals Many on well-built faith and dedication of devotees towards Lord Shiva. And thus it is firmly stated that Kashi is a place where Mahadev exists; he exists in the heart of many disciples.
Gange Arati or Ganga Vandana is performed every single evening at the Bank of Ma Ganga in Varanasi. It is one of the most spectacular events in the night that one must not miss. In this Arati, a group of priests makes a commitment to Lord Shiva, Ma Ganga, Surya, Agni andtothe whole universe made by Mahadev.
The great process of Gange Arati makes everyone full of spiritual thoughts. The big brass lamps with spirited flames accompanied by the mantra chant by each priest move every devotee to tears.
All the priests who are meant to perform the arati dresses up in the same attire. They wear white dhoti and kurta. Before the Arati, they prepare the stage with a multi-tiered oil lamp, five elevated planks, an idol of Ma Ganga, conch shells, incense sticks, and a large and weighty brass lamp. Before the arati starts, some boats filled with devotees come and gather around the Ghat to experience the significant Sandhya Arati. Some devotees record a live video or take snaps of the Sandhya Arati or Gange Arati.
An announcement takes place around 7 PM, indicating the Ganga Arati to begin. The priests who are involved stand up and start chanting the mantra. They start the Arati in a well-organized manner with a lighting lamp of fire in hand and rhythmic chant in their voice. The priests blow the conch shells between the mantra loudly. The devotees get emotional and get automatically involved in the Arati and start clapping with the rhythm of mantra. After the mantra, the priests do Arati with the multi-tiered brass lamps having camphor. The event would end up with a final arati and leave the surrounding silent. This whole event takes up to 45 minutes to complete.
This glorious event is performed by the pupils of Vedas and Upanishads which would be guided by the senior priest of the Gangotri Seva Samiti. Ganga Arati takes place at sharp 6:45 PM in the evening immediately after the sunset. To experience the Arati, devotees must arrive at the Ghat at least an hour before.
Standing on the western bank of Ganga Kashi Viswanath Temple is considered as the heart of Varanasi as well as of religious India. This temple is governed by Government of Uttar Pradesh since 1983.
This temple is known as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest temple dedicated to Mahadev. During Shivratri, it is only the chief priest who can enter the temple premises. No other person is allowed to enter till he completes his religion function. According to Hindu mythology, Mahadev married Parvati on the inauspicious duration of Mahashivratri and performed on Rangbhari Ekadashi. Devotees grandly celebrate this ceremony. Followed by the tradition the devotees carry the idols of Mahadev and Parvati in a Palki to the Kashi Viswanath Temple. And while going, they blow conch and play damru and other musical instruments.
These temple premises consists of a sequence of tiny sanctums, stationed in an alley which is known as Viswasanatha Galli. The main idol of the linga is 60 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference positioned in a silver altar. There is a small well in the temple ground which has a historical background. It is believed that the Jyotirlinga was concealed in it during the time of the invasion, as it is told that the chief priest jumped into the well in order to protect the Shiva Linga from the invaders.
A number of renowned saints have visited this holy place including Swami Vivekananda, Satya Sai Baba, Guru Nanak. Swami Dayananda Saraswati and so on. Hindus of India believe that a visit to the temple and taking a bath in the holy water of Ganga is the only way to achieve mukti after death. A pilgrimage to Kashi Viswanath Temple is most desirable journey among the Hindus all over the world.
Types of Kashi Yatras
- Navagraha Yatra
- Durga Devi Yatra
- Panchkrosi Yatra
- Shivayatan Yatra
- Jal Tirth Yatra
- Ekadasha Maha Rudra Yatra
- Gauri Yatra
- Antargrihi Yatra
The Temple Circuit
There are many more important temples in Kashi worth visiting. The Vishwanath Temple and The Annapurna Temple are the major shrines in Kashi. But except these two temples, there are few more holy places which also carry significance.
The Dhundi Ganapati Temple:
Visiting the temple circuit should be started with The Dhundi Ganapati Temple. This temple stands on the way to the Vishwanath Temple. It’s a small Temple with higher significance.
The Visalakhi Temple:
This temple comes in the second in the visits of the temple circuit. It is a small temple but the idol of the deity looks very beautiful.
The Kala Bhairav temple:
Kala Bhairav is known as the protector deity of Kashi. He is designated as a guard with a dog. He is also known as another form of Mahadev.
The Bindu Madhava Temple:
The Bindu Madhava Temple must be on the list of places to visit in Kashi. This Temple is best approached from the Panchaganga Ghat.
After completing the visit to temple circuit one may pay attention to the other nearby temples around Varanasi. There are so many famous ancient holy places in Varanasi that are worth visiting.
Ancient temples in Kashi:
A list of Temples is given below which are quite famous among the devotees and the devotees as well.
This Temple stationed in Rishpattan Road, Varanasi. Nature lovers would surely get attracted to this Temple.
Sankat Mochan Temple:
Bharat Mata Temple:
- Tulsi Manas Temple: Stationed in Kandva village, Bari Bazaar is a Mandir in Varanasi.
Kashi is basically known as the city of saints. Saints from many around the world come to visit Kashi, few of them return and rest stay in Kashi.
The eminent saint Tulsidas has an intense relation with Kashi. This is the place where he was blessed by Hanuman and had a vision of Shri Ram. The place where Tulsidas was blessed by Hanuman is now known as Sankat Mochon Hanuman Temple.
There is a lake in the center of Varanasi named Laher Talav. It is said that famous saint Kabir was found on a lotus in this place. Now a big assembly room has been built there by some of his followers. And it is used for religious purposes.
Best time to visit Kashi:
If you are planning to visit Kashi then go through an overview of weather in Varanasi. The temperature ranges from 32 to 46 degree Celsius from April to June. Monsoon season is from July to September. Kashi experiences heavy rainfall during these months. Winter starts from November to March and these months are considered as the best time to visit Kashi.
As we know that India is a country of diverse religion, culture, and language. And being a part of India Varanasi is no exception. People of various languages resides in Varanasi. Among them, Hindi is the focused language in Varanasi.
From the above discussion, it is understood that Kashi is the city of culture, religion, rituals, and temples. There is a vast popularity of Kashi among the devotees. The Vishwanatha Temple, Annapurna Temple, Ramnagar Fort, Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, Causatthi Ghat, Lalita Ghat, Rana Mahal Ghat, Scindia Ghat and Gange arati are some of the major attractions which magnetize the tourists towards Kashi.
This grand temple was reconstructed and reinstated by Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar- Queen of Indore. She took the responsibility to restore and also offered funds for the construction of the temple. Kashi Vishwanatha Temple is considered as one among the twelve Jyotirlingas of Shiva. It is visited by devotees and travelers from various parts of the world. The temple can be visited at any time of the year. People who are finding hard to visit can book their token and receive Prasad by post. The temple authorities ensure to do Pooja on your name and deliver Prasad to your residence by post.
It is located close to Kashi Vishwanatha Temple. This temple is devoted to Annapurna Mata or Annapurna who is the Goddess of Nourishment or Goddess of Food. When you visit the temple, you can see a magnificent golden statue of Annapurna Mata. Annapurna temple is open from 4.00 AM to 11.00 PM.
It was constructed in the 17th century. This fort is located on the other side of river away from the Asi Ghat. The beauty and charm of the palace remain alive till date. You can see pictures of Tiger shoots, ornamental swords and stays by the Queen and King of Belgium adorned on the wall. Ramnagar Fort’s Hall- The Durbar Hall is changed into a museum and various objects like elephant howdahs and palanquins are displayed.
Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum: Benaras Hindu University is situated south of Viswanath Temple. It was started by Madan Mohan Malviya, a famous Sanskrit scholar. Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum is situated within the University campus. It is famous for its excellent assortment of Indian paintings. Some major attraction of this museum includes the Gandhara sculpture, Vishnu’s 11th-century statue, statue of Paravati and Shiva, and the Mughal miniatures.
Betla National Park: It is located at a distance of 290 kilometers from Varanasi. It houses an immense range of flora and fauna. This park was initially referred as Palamau Wildlife Sanctuary. The park resides few hot springs, tribal villages and two 16th century castles insides its premises. Betla National Park is home to animals like tigers, leopards and elephants and also several sorts of birds.
Allahabad: Allahabad is a most important sacred place located near Varanasi. It is situated at a meeting point of three rivers- mythical Saraswati River, Yamuna, and Ganga. The confluence has earned Allahabad a great name for 3000 years. There are several places in Allahabad that attracts tourists from various corners of the world. Some of the main highlights of Allahabad include the Kumbh Mela, All Saint’s Cathedral, Allahabad Museum, Anand Bhavan, Allahabad fort and the Khusro Bagh.
How to reach Varanasi:
There are a number of options available for those who want to visit this holy place.
By Air: Varanasi Airport is well-connected to some major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Chennai. People can board their flight direct to Varanasi from there. International tourists can book tickets in connecting flights from Mumbai or Delhi airport as these cities are well connected to other cities of the world.
By Rail: There are trains on regular basis to Varanasi from different junction stations in India. Railway stations: Shibpur (SOP), Varanasi Junction (BSB), Manduadih (MUV), Varanasi City (BCY). You can hire a cab or taxi from railway station to roam in and around the city.
By Bus: Buses from different location conduct journey to Varanasi. Bus stop: Varanasi Bus Stop. You can also take private buses from nearby cities that drop you in Varanasi.
By Road: The roadways of Varanasi is well connected to important towns of Uttar Pradesh. If possible, you can take a cab or drive to Varanasi from nearest cities like Alipur, Allahabad, and Kanpur.
Where to stay:
As Varanasi is a major tourist place, there are numerous hotels and accommodation options available for visitors. You do not have to search for hotels or stay in another city. A list of satisfactory hotels are given below for your help:
5-star Hotels in Varanasi
- Nadesar Palace
- The Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasi
- Gautam Hotel
- Hotel Ashok
- Radisson Hotel
3-star Hotels in Varanasi
- Palace on the Ganges
- The Westinn
- Sarweshwary Hotel
- Hotel Zeeras
- Varanasi Palace
2-star Hotels in Varanasi
- Hotel Park Palace Varanasi
- MM Continental
- Hotel Dwarika
- Hotel Pragya International
- Hotel Palace on Steps
Hope all the needful information for visiting Kashi has been explained. You can easily rely on the above information and make a plan to visit Varanasi – a place of Bholanath.