History

Hotel Ganges View

History of Varanasi



A Brief History

A Brief History Standing on the western bank of India's holiest river Ganges, Varanasi is the oldest surviving city of the world and the cultural capital of India. It is in the heart of this city that there stands in its fullest majesty the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in which is enshrined the Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishweshwara or Vishwanatha. Here gravitate the teeming millions of India to seek benediction and spiritual peace by the darshan of this Jyotirlinga which confers liberation from the bondages of maya and the inexorable entanglements of the world. A simple glimpse of the Jyotirlinga is a soul-cleansing experience that transforms life and puts it on the path of knowledge and bhakti.
Vishweshwara Jyotirlinga has a very special and unique significance in the spiritual history of India. Tradition has it that the merits earned by the darshan of other jyotirlinga scattered in various parts of India accrue to devotee by a single visit to Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Deeply and intimately implanted in the Hindu mind, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been a living embodinent of our timeless cultural traditions and highest spiritual values. The Temple has been visited by all great saints- Adi Shankaracharya, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekanand, Goswami Tulsidas, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati, Gurunanak and several other spiritual personalities.

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple attracts visitors not only from India but abroad as well and thereby symbolises man's desire to live in peace snd harmony with one another. Vishwanath being a supreme repository of this spiritual truth thus strengthens the bonds of universal brotherhood and fellow feeling at the national as well as global levels. On January 28, 1983 the Temple was taken over by the Govt. of Uttar Pradesh and it's management ever since stands entrusted to a Trust with Dr. Vibhuti Narayan Singh. Former Kashi Naresh, as president and an Executive Committee with Divisional Commissioner as Chairman. The Temple in the present shape was built way back in 1780 by Late Maharani Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore. In the year 1785 a Naubatkhana was built up in front of the Temple by the then Collector Mohd. Ibrahim Khan at the instance of Governor General Warren Hastings. In 1839, Two domes of the Temple were covered by gold donated by Punjab Kesari Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. Third dome but was remained uncovered, Ministry of cultures & Religious affairs of U.P. Govt. took keen interest for gold plating of third dome of Temple.

Important Temples of Varanasi

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Also known as the Golden Temple, it is dedicated to Lord shiva, the presiding deity of the city. Varanasi is Said to be the point at which the first jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light by which shiva manifested has supremacy over others gods, broke through the Earth’s crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Gaths and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varanasi.

Annapurna Temple

Near the Kashi Vishwanath temple, there is a nice temple of Devi Annapurna , believed as the "Godess of Fooding".

Sankatha Temple

Near the Sindhia Ghat , there is a important temple of "Godess of Remedy" Devi Sankatha. Inside its premises there is a huge statue of a Lion. Also there is nine temples of nine planets nearby to this temple.

Kalbhairav Temple

It is the ancient temple of Varanasi near the Head Post Office, VishesharGanj. God KalBhairav is believed as "Kotwal Of Varanasi" , without his permission no one can stay in Kashi.

Mritunjay Mahadev Temple

On the route of Daranagar to Kalbhairav temple this temple of Lord Shiva is situated . Just besides this temple there is a Well of much religious importance , whose water is said to be mixture of several underground streams and good for eliminating several diseases.

New Vishwanath Temple

Situated in the premises of Banaras Hindu University, a modern place of worship planned by Pandit Malviya and built by the Birlas. Open to all, irrespective of caste or creed.

Tulsi Manas Temple

Constructed by family of Varanasi, this modern temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. It is situated at the place Where Tulisdas, the great medieval seer, lived and wrote the epic "Shri Ramcharitmanas", which narrates the life of Lord Rama, the hero of the Ramayana. Verses from Tulidas’s epic are inscribed on the walls. It is just nearby to Durga Temple.

Sankatmochan Temple

Besides the Assi river stream, on the way of Durga Temple to Banaras Hindu Temple this well known temple of Lord Hanuman is situated. Lord Hanuman is also known as "Sankatmochan" the god who protects from the troubles. This temple is founded by Goswami Tulsidas. This temple is also known as "Monkey" temple, as lot of monkeys are there inside the premises.

Durga Temple

Commonly called the ‘Monkey temple’, it was built in the 18th century. Although it is one of the best-known temple. There is nice stonework done of the temple , it is the nice example of NAGRA Shilp. Godess DURGA is believed as the symbol of Strength and Power which govern the entire world. There is a pond adjacent to the temple called "Durgakund".

Bharat Mata Temple

This Temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936 and houses one perfect relief maps of India carved out of marble.The Temple was gifted by the nationalists Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta (Barat Ratana ) and shri Durga Prasad Khatri, leading numismatists and antiquarians.

Ashram and Muth

  • Mumuksh Bhavan
  • Dharm Sangh
  • Nirajani Akhanra
  • Satua Baba Ashram
  • Shankaracharya Math
  • Jangambari Math
  • Sadhu Bela Ashram
  • Mata Anandmai Ashram
  • Radha Swami Bag
  • Kabir Math
  • Karpatri Ji Math
  • Dandi Swami Math
  • RamKrishna Mishan Sevashram
  • Kinaram Math

Prominent Personalities

Literature and Politicals

  • Bhartendu Harishchandra
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri
  • Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya
  • Dr. Bhagwan Das (Bharat Ratna)
  • Jai Shanker Prasad
  • Ratnaker Ji
  • Munshi Prem Chandra
  • Acharya Pandit Ramchandra
  • Dr. Hajari Prasad Drivedi
  • Anyee Baesent
  • Dr. Sampuranand
  • Najir Banarasi

Music & Dance

  • Pandit Gudai Maharaj
  • Kanthae Maharaj
  • Pandit Hanuman Prasad Mishra
  • Pandit Mahadev Mishra
  • Alaknanda
  • Bismilla Khan (Bharat Ratna)
  • Gopi Krinshna
  • Pandit Birju Maharaj
  • Pandit Ravishanker
  • Pandit Kishan Maharaj
  • Smt. Girja Devi


  • Smt. Sitara Devi
  • Smt. N. Rajan
  • Rajan-Sajan Mishra
  • Pandit Vikas Maharaj
  • Pandit Channulal Mishra

Saint and Mahatma

  • Ramanand
  • Kabir Das
  • Tulsi Das
  • Tailang swami
  • Satuva Baba
  • Kinaram Baba
  • Bhagwan Avadhut Ram
  • Gopiraj Kaviraj
  • Swami Karpatri Ji
  • Sushrut

Banarasi Pan

The leaves of paan , which brings tears to dedicated Banarsis’ eyes, is called Maghai and is grown in Bihar. It could be a Jagannathi and grown in Orissa. It could even be a Desi grown in eastern Uttar Pradesh — in areas such as Jaunpur — but that’s infra dig. The Maghai leaf is soft and melts in the mouth, to Pandeyji, who points out that it leaves no resha (strands) in the teeth, all are in agreement. At the wholesale market, the traders wait eagerly for the annual consignment of Maghai that grows in winter and proceed to culture it. The leaves are kept in baskets with burning coal nearby, sometimes covered with wet cloth so that they retain moisture but do not get too dry or too wet.

Yoga at Varanasi

Varanasi has been a great center of Indian philosophy, spiritualism, Ayurveda, Yoga and mysticism. Yoga is a way of balancing and harmonizing the body, mind and emotions. Yoga is done through the practice of asana (the physical exercise), pranayama (the breathing technique) and mudra. All these practices purify the body, mind and energy system to prepare the ground for higher practice of meditation and for the ultimate experience of cosmic consciousness.

Varanasi Music

Music is supposed to be the soul of life. By virtue of being the oldest living city, Benaras has its own rich history and treasure of music. According to mythology, when Renu (son of Vishwamitra) and Mahagovind founded Kashi (Varanasi), they also brought with them the Aryan traditions and the Vedic culture. Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of Varanasi and is also considered as the lord of dance and music. According to the Puranic tales the Apsaras, Gandharvas and Kinnars lived in Varanasi and made the musical tradition of Varanasi a rich one.

Ashoka Lion Capital

The Ashoka Lion capital or the Sarnath lion capital is the national symbol of India. The Sarnath pillar bears one of the Edicts of Ashoka, an inscription against division within the Buddhist community, which reads, "No one shall cause division in the order of monks". The Sarnath pillar is a column surmounted by a capital, which consists of a canopy representing an inverted bell-shaped lotus flower, a short cylindrical abacus with four 24-spoked Dharma wheels with four animals (an elephant, a bull, a horse, a lion).
The four animals in the Sarnath capital are believed to symbolize different steps of Lord Buddha's life. The Elephant represents the Buddha's idea in reference to the dream of Queen Maya of a white elephant entering her womb. The Bull represents desire during the life of the Buddha as a prince. The Horse represents Buddha's departure from palatial life. The Lion represents the accomplishment of Buddha hood.

Sarnath Museum

Sarnath has yielded a rich collection of sculptures, artifacts and edifices comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images and other ancient remains. To house all the findings and excavations at Sarnath, the Archaeological Survey of India established a site Museum at Sarnath. Finest specimens of Buddhist art and other important remains have been housed at the museum.
While the single most famous exhibit of this museum is the lion capital, the Sarnath museum has a small but awe-inspiring collection of Buddhist artifacts. Among the things to see is a beautiful sculpture of the Buddha from the fifth century. The Buddha sits cross-legged, with eyes downcast in deep meditation, and a halo around his head. Also worth exploring are several beautiful figures of the bodhisattvas.

Banaras Hindu University

The Banaras Hindu University or BHU is an internationally reputed University and is situated in Varanasi. The great nationalist leader, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, founded the Banaras Hindu University in the year 1916. Dr Annie Besant also played an important role in the formation of the BHU. The Banaras Hindu University played an important role in the Indian independence movement. Over a period of time, it has developed into one of the greatest centers of learning in India. The BHU has produced many great freedom fighters and Nation builders. It has immensely contributed to the progress of the nation through a large number of renowned scholars, artists and scientists.
The Banaras Hindu University has a sprawling campus, spanning across 1300 acres. It has well maintained roads (crossing each other at right angle), extensive greenery, a temple, an airstrip and buildings, which are an architectural delight. There is another campus of the Banaras Hindu University at Barkachha, in Mirzapur district, covering an area of 2700 acres. The BHU comprises of 3 Institutes, 14 Faculties, 124 Departments, 4 Interdisciplinary Centers and 3 Constituent Schools, spanning a vast rang of subjects pertaining to all branches of humanities, social sciences, science, technology, medicine, fine arts and performing arts.

Chunar Fort

The Chunar fort is situated in the Vindhya Range at a distance of about 45 odd km from Varanasi. The Chunar fort is located in the Mirzapur district. According to the Puranas the oldest name of Chunar was Charanadri as Lord Vishnu had taken his first step in his Vaman incarnation in the dynasty of Great king Bali. However Chunar came into prominence after the visit of Babar followed by Shershah Suri, Humayun, Akbar, Aurangzeb and finally the Britishers.
It is said that Maharaja Vikramaditya, the king of Ujjain established the fort of Chunar. According to the Alha Khand, King Sahadeo made this fort as his capital and established the statue of Naina Yogini in a cave of Vindhya hill. To commemorate his victory on 52 rulers, King Sahadeo built a stone umbrella inside the fort. The Chunar fort became important for its association with the Mughal king, Babar and later Shershah Suri, who got the possession of the fort by marrying the wife of Taj Khan Sarang-Khani, the Governer of Ibrahim Lodi. In 1531 AD Humayun made an unsuccessful effort to capture this fort but later in 1574AD, Akbar the great captured this fort and since that very time it remained under the Mughals up to 1772AD. In the year 1772AD the East India Company captured the Chunar fort.

Handicrafts of Varanasi

Varanasi has, since times immemorial, been hailed as a leading center for some of the finest Indian handicrafts. The most renowned craft of Varanasi city is silk weaving. 'Banarasi Sarees', produced by local craftsman are among the most preferred, not only in India but also all over the world. Besides the famous Benarasi Sari, brassware, copperware, ivory work, glass bangles, wood, stone and clay toys and exquisite gold jewellery are some of the other crafts Varanasi city is famous for. Among the other shopping attractions of Varanasi and surrounding areas are the Bhadohi Carpets and musical instruments.