Assi Ghat – A magnet for those seeking spirituality
Located far south, Assi Ghat is where pilgrims pay homage to Lord Shiva by worshipping a huge lingam situated under a peepal tree. This ghat is a lively space, rippling in chaos and commotion and one that vividly captures the ancientness of Kashi. Among the most famous religious places in Varanasi, Assi Ghat is a must visit. The alluring sight of the arti here makes Varanasi one of the most beautiful cities in India.
Dashashwamedh Ghat – The most vibrant Ghat in town
The main ghat in Varanasi on the Ganges river, Dashashwamedh Ghat is a flamboyant place known for its spiritual transcendence. It is common knowledge that Lord Brahma sacrificed 10 horses in a yajna here, and thus the name. Dashashwamedh Ghat tops the list of tourist places in Varanasi as it is a compelling space to dawdle in this small town. Be here for the Agni Pooja or Ganga aarti, as it is popularly called.
Manikarnika Ghat – The prime cremation Ghat
Considered to be an auspicious place to be cremated, Manikarnika Ghat is among the pivotal places of interest in Varanasi. This ghat is an exasperating and startling experience in itself as absolutely nothing is considered sacrilegious here. The setting sun and the glowing pyres along with candle-lit flower bowls floating down the holy river Ganga make Manikarnika Ghat a sight to behold.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The list of places to visit in Varanasi would be incomplete without including the famed Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and has also been referred to in the holy scriptures. The temple structure as it stands today consists of a series of smaller shrines located in the Vishwanath Galli.
Tulsi Manas Temple – The place where Ramcharitmanas was written
Among the many sightseeing places in Varanasi is the Tulsi Manas Temple, the place where Tulsidas wrote the Hindu epic Ramayana in an Awadhi dialect of the Hindi language. The temple was funded by the Birla family and constructed in white marble in 1964. Verses and scenes from Ramcharitmanas are engraved on the mandir walls.
Gyan Vapi Well – The well of knowledge
The Gyan Vapi well is located within the Gyanvapi Mosque, which was constructed by the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, on the site of the demolished Kashi Vishwanath Temple. During the British regime, the well was considered to be holier than the Ganges and was among the important places to visit in Varanasi as it contains the Shiva lingam.
Ramnagar Fort & Museum – The Mughal era fortification
Located opposite to the Tulsi Ghat, the Ramnagar Fort is an 18th-century crumbling ruin in dire need of restoration. However, the crimson sunset as viewed from inside this enclosure is reason enough to give Ramnagar Fort a spot on the list of places to visit in Varanasi. This old rampart is also home to a vintage museum that is famous for its rare collection of old American cars, ivory works, medieval costumes, and a huge astronomical clock.
Sarnath – The famed historical ruin
Located 13 km northeast of Varanasi, Sarnath is among the famous Buddhist pilgrimages in India. It is a popular place to visit around Varanasi for those seeking peace and solitude after jostling their way through the frazzled ghats and gullies of Kashi. After achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya, the Buddha came to Sarnath seeking his former companions and thus gave his first sermon here.
Chunar Fort – A spooky little rampart
Situated in the Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh, the Chunar Fort is located approximately 23 km southwest of Varanasi. The earliest recorded history in Chunar is from the 16th century, traced to a garrison of the Mughal emperor, Babar. The tombs of some of his soldiers are still venerated here. The fort is believed to be divinely blessed and is among the popular places to visit in and around Varanasi in one day.
Built on the site of a desecrated Vishnu temple in the 17th century, the Alamgir Mosque is among the famous religious places in Varanasi. The mosque as it stands today, dominating Panchganga Ghat is proof of the ludicrous methods adopted by the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. Non-muslims are not allowed to enter the mosque.