Kashi,also known as Benares and Varanasi is an ancient city in Uttar Pradesh, India . Kashi is Lord Shiva’s home. It is situated on the banks of the holy river Ganga, and the city has great significance for Hindus. Hindus hope to visit the holy city of Kashi at least once in their lifetime . Millions of pilgrims come to Kashi each year .
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Kashi is home to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva . It enshrines one of the 12 jyotirlingas of Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims come here each day to perform an abhishekam to the sacred Jyothirlingam, with water from the Ganga .The temple has a beautiful devotional and peaceful atmosphere and you can hear chanting and ringing bells .
The temple has existed since the time of Shiva , but was rebuilt many times over the last centuries. The present temple was built in 1776.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is also known as the Golden temple because of the 800 kg of gold used to cap its spire!
The holy river Ganga and its Ghats
The holy river Ganga is considered as god by Hindus. It is believed that bathing in the river cleanses the body of sins .
There are almost 100 Ghats- places with steps leading down to the water along the river Ganga in Kashi . The date back to the 14th century, but most were rebuilt in the 18th century by Maratha rulers.
A walk along Varanasi’s Ghats is a fascinating experience. Many puja ceremonies are held here .
Ganga aarti of Varanasi
Every evening, there is a beautiful aarti conducted at the Ganga here . Priests use diyas to conduct the aarti to Devi Ganga, and there is peaceful music and chanting of holy mantras. Fresh, vibrant flowers are used to adorn Devi Ganga and the river Ghats .
Conch shells are blown and incense sticks are lit to create a calm energetic and devotional atmosphere . Watching the aarti is a mesmerising experience.
There are many other temples in Kashi too, and many ways to experience the city’s magic . From taking a walk by the Ghats or through the vibrant narrow lanes and bazaars ,and of course visiting the temples.
Kashi has a unique and spiritual atmosphere.