Saturday, May 26, 2012


Gorakhnath Temple gorakhpur

The district Gorakhpur takes its name and fame from renowned, ascetic 'Gorakshnath', who was an eminent profounder saint of 'Nath Sampradaya'. A famous shrine 'Gorakhnath' was built in his honour on the same spot where he practised austerities.

History: The ancient Gorakhpur, in addition to modern, comprised the districts of Basti, Deoria, Azamgarh and parts of Nepal tarai. These region, which may be called as Gorakhpur Janpad, had been an important centre of Aryan culture and civilization.
Gorakhpur was a part of the famous kingdom of Koshal, one of sixteen mahajanpadas in 6th Century B.C. The earliest known monarch ruling over this region with his capital at Ayodhya was IKSVAKU, who founded the solar dynasty of Kshatriya. It produced a number of illustratious kings till the accession of Ram, who was the greatest ruler of this dynasty. Since then, it remained an integral part of the erstwhile empires of Maurya, Shunga, Kushana , Gupta and Harsha dynasties. According to tradition, the Tharu king, Mausen of Madan Singh (900-950 A.D.) ruled over Gorakhpur city and the adjoining area.
In medieval period, when the entire northern India lay prostrate before the Muslim ruler, Mohammad Ghori, the Gorakhpur region was not left out. For a longer period it remained under the sway of the muslim rulers, from Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak to Bahadur Shah.Tradition has it that Ala-ud-din Khilji (1296-1316) ordered the conversion of old shrine of Goraksha ( a popular deity ) of Gorakhpur into a mosque. However, on Akbar's reorganisation of the empire, Gorakhpur gave its name to one of the five Sirkars comprising the province of Avadh.
Modern period was marked by the transfer of this region by the Nawab of Avadh to the East India Company in 1801. With this cession, Gorakhpur was raised to the status of a 'DISTRICT. The first collector was Mr. Routledge. In 1829, Gorakhpur was made the headquarters of a Division of the same name, comprising the districts of Gorakhpur, Ghazipur and Azamgarh. Mr. R.M. Biad was first appointed Commissioner.
In 1865, new district Basti was carved out from Gorakhpur. The latter was further split up in 1946 to form new district Deoria. The third division of Gorakhpur led to the creation of district Mahrajganj in 1989.


Sangam Allahabad

The city of Allahabad is among the largest cities of Uttar Pradesh and is situated at the confluence of three rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati. The meeting point is known as 'Triveni' and is especially sacred to Hindus. The earlier settlements of the Aryans were established in this city, then known as Prayag. Its sanctity is manifest by references to it in Purans, the Ramayan and the Mahabharata. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma, the creator God of the Trinity, chose a land on earth (i.e. Prayag) to perform 'Prakrista Yag', at the beginning of the creation and he also referred to it as 'Tirth Raj' or the 'King of all pilgrimage centres'. As per writing of 'Padam Puran' - "As the sun is amongst the moon and the moon amongst the stars, likewise 'Prayag' is best amongst all places of pilgrimage".

Emperor Akbar founded this city in 1575 AD by the name of 'Illahabas' which has now become modern Allahabad. The monarch realized its strategic importance as a waterway landmark in North India and also built a magnificent fort on the banks of holi 'Yamuna'. Allahabad today is an important city where history, culture and religion create a magical confluence, much like the sacred rivers that caress this blessed land. Due to its religious importance, many pilgrims come to Allahabad in the bathing season, the Hindu month of Magh (mid January to mid-february), to purify themselves. During this month, a great gathering and fair called Magh Mela takes place on the sands. Every 12th year when the waters are felt to be especially purifying, Allahabad holds a much greater festival called Kumbh Mela. Many millions of pilgrims attend this festival, coming from all over India. It is believed that bathing during Kumbh cures the bather of all sins and evils and grants the bather salvation.

In 1885, Mark Twain wrote about Allahabad Kumbh -"Pilgrims plodded for months in heat to get here, worn, poor and hungry, but sustained by unwavering faith".


Bara Imambara Lucknow
Bara Imambara Lucknow

Lucknow is a beautiful city that still retains its old world charm. Your tour to Lucknow will be a truly memorable one when you travel in India. While arranging for Lucknow sightseeing tours, make sure that you visit the following tourist attractions that are worth seeing. The exquisite monuments that were built during the ancient times are still preserved for the present to see and cherish. So check out these tourist attractions as a part of Lucknow Tours.

Bara Imambara : The Bara Imambara was built in the year 1784 by the fourth Nawab of Awadh known as Asaf-ud-Daula. It was built as a part of a relief project for a major famine that took place in the year 1784.

British Residency Lucknow :The British Residency of Lucknow is a famous historical landmark of this place. It is now in ruins and has been declared a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Chattar Manzil :One of the imposing structures built by the Nawabs of Lucknow, Chattar Manzil is a very famous tourist attraction of Lucknow. The most unique thing about the Chattar Manzil of Lucknow is the strikingly different architecture.

Jama Masjid :In the year 1423, Sultan Ahmed Shah constructed the Jama Masjid in Lucknow. It is built entirely with yellow sandstone and is known for its intricate style of design and architecture.

Rumi Darwaza :The Rumi Darwaza of Lucknow is one of the most impressive architectural structures in India. It was constructed in the year 1784 by Nawab Asaf-ud-daula. The Rumi Darwaza is an example of the fine architectural style of Awadh.

Clock Tower :Between the Bara Imambara and Chhota Imambara is the Clock Tower of Lucknow. This huge tower was constructed by Nawab Nasir-ud-Din Haider in the year 1880. The Clock Tower in Lucknow reaches upto a staggering height of 221 feet and is the tallest Clock Tower in India. The Clock tower also has the biggest fitted clock that cost the government around Rs. 1.75 lakhs at that time.

Moti Mahal :The Moti Mahal in Lucknow is one of the most beautiful monuments of India. The Nawab of Lucknow, Saadat Ali Khan, constructed it. The Lucknow Moti Mahal is also known as Palace of Pearls. The Moti Mahal is located on the borders of Gomti and provides a spectacular view of the city of Nawabs. The Nawabs used this palace to view birds in flight and spend time in leisure. There are three buildings that comprise the whole construction.

The two other buildings are known as Shah Manzil and Mubarak Manzil. These two buildings were added later by Nawab Ghazi-ud-din Haider. These were used by the Nawab to watch animal combats and animal fights. The Moti Mahal is preserved till date by the concerned authorities and is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Lucknow.

Lakshmana :Tila It is said that the original site of the town was actually at Lakshmana Tila. The story goes back to ancient times when the brother of Lord Rama, Lakshmana laid the foundation of the city of modern Lucknow. It was known as Lakshmanpur then. This place is supposed to be one of the earliest sites of human settlements in Lucknow.

Hussainabad Imambara :The Hussainabad Imambara is a major tourist attraction of Lucknow. The monument was built by Mohammed Ali Shah in the year 1837. The tombs of Mohammed Ali Shah and his mother are located over here. The walls of the monument are decorated with Arabic verses that have been carved beautifully by efficient craftsmen. The structure has an imposing white colored dome and many pillars or minarets. The interiors of the monument are worth seeing. They have been decorated beautifully with elaborate chandeliers, mirrors with gold frames, the majestic throne of the King. There are small miniatures of the Taj Mahal on either side of the monument. The Hussainabad Imambara is beautifully decorated during the festival of Moharrum. The whole structure is bordered with thousands of little bulbs, which give it a royal look when illuminated in the evening.


About Mathura

Mathura is situated in the western part of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is located on the west bank of river Yamuna and forms a part of the northern plains. This city is 50 kms north of Agra, 145 kms south-east of Delhi, 11 kms from Vrindavan town and 22 kms from Govardhan, respectively. Geographically this city is located at 27°27′N 77°43′E. It is at an elevation of 174 meters or 570 feet.
Mathura is one of the ancient towns of India. It was mentioned in Ramayana, the epic. In Treta Yuga, Mathura was a dense forest and was inhabited by a giant demon called Madhu. He named this place after his name as Madhuban. After killing Lavanasura (son of Madhu), Shatrughana (younger brother of Lord Rama) found this city and named it as Madhupuri. Eventually, this famous city became Mathura.
As mentioned in Garuda Purana, Mathura is one of the seven most holy places for Hindus in India. For about 3,000 years, Mathura was  the hub of culture and civilization. The city has a long and chequered history as it was held in sanctity by the Brahmanical, Buddhists and Jain faith. Mathura School of Art was a great school which flourished for 1,200 years. This school of art was the distinctive school which tried out in sculptures and clay figurines in the annals of Indian art history. Now, Mathura abounds in place of historic and religious interest. Round the year, huge number of festivals and fairs are held in Mathura

Mathura city is the birth place of Lord Krishna. This city is also called Braj or Brij-bhoomi. The Keshav Dev Temple was built on the site of Lord Krishna’s legendary birth place. Mathura was the capital of Surasena Kingdom. It was ruled by Kamsa, the maternal uncle of Krishna.
Tourists of Mathura can taste varieties of palatable food. The most famous foods of this city are lassi (a drink prepared by blending yogurt with water and Indian spices), thandai, milk badaam and sweetened hot milk. Various types of sweetmeat balls, particularly Peda are available in Mathura. One can find various types of Pedas in this city.
As Mathura is a famous religious town across the globe, it is popular for religious and holy products. There are many shops which sell several types of holy and religious items. Tilak Dwar and Dwarakadhish Temple are the best shopping places in this city.
Mathura was an economic hub which is located at the junction of important caravan routes. The industries in this city are the major contributors to the economy of Uttar Pradesh. Mathura Refinery is one of the biggest oil refineries of Asia.
Silver polishing industry is another industry which is gradually flourishing. Textile printing industry which includes both Fabric dyeing and Sari-printing is another important industry. Besides these, other famous industries in this region are decorative and household item and water tap manufacturing units.

Places to see in Mathura

Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi

This is the birth place of lord Krishna. There is a temple which symbolises the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The story of His birth is written and depicted on the walls of the temple. A narrow set of marble steps leads you to the terrace and a walled corridor creates the effect of a prison. The prison and the other buildings were razed to the ground in the 17th century but were restored in 1962 by industrialists like G.D. Birla.

Vishram Ghat

There are lot of attractive temples in vishram ghat.It is located on the banks of the river Yamuna. A tourist will find lot of shrines here like, the Mukut Temple, Radha-Damodar, Murli Manohar, Neelkantheshwar, Yamuna-Krishna, Langali Hanuman and Narasimha temples. The aarti held at the Vishram Ghat each evening is quite famous for the little oil lamps that are floated on the river.

Dwarkadheesh Temple

This temple is located in the eastern part of Mathura & is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The Temple was built in the year 1814 and is the most well-liked temple of the city and looks even more attractive when it is gracefully decorated on religious and celebratory occasions such as Holi, Janmashtami and Diwali.

Janma Masjid

This mosque is built by Nabir Khan in the year1661.

Government Museum

This Museum has the finest collection of archaeological items. It is located at Dampeir Park. This Museum has the exceptional items which belong to the Gupta and Kushan Period. The other things that a tourist will find here are the collections of Mathura School of Sculptures.

Shopping in Mathura

Mathura is famous for its Milk Products. Especially the “peda” of Mathura is famous in the whole country. A variety of “pedas” are found in Mathura. Other important milk products of Mathura are pure and aromatic ghee, cheese and cheese spreads.
A tourist will also find a variety of handicrafts in Mathura. Embroidered pieces, paintings, sculptures, images and silver and textile jewelleries are other products to shop for in Mathura.
A tourist will find a wide range of holy products like the Rudraksh mallas, Lord Krishna’s marble sculptures, prayer books, pendants with images of gods and goddess etc. The best shopping places of Mathura are situated near the Dwarkadheesh Temple and Tilak Dwar.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Taj Mahal
History of AgraAgra has a rich historical background, which is amply evident from the numerous historical monuments in and around the city. The earliest reference for Agra comes from the epical age, when Mahabharata refer Agra as Agravana. In the sources prior to this, Agra has been referred as Arya Griha or the abode of the Aryans. The first person who referred Agra by its modern name was Ptolemy.
Though the heritage of Agra city is linked with the Mughal dynasty, numerous other rulers also contributed to the rich past of this city. Modern Agra was founded by Sikandar Lodhi (Lodhi dynasty; Delhi Sultanate) in the 16th century. Babar (founder of the Mughal dynasty) also stayed for sometime in Agra and introduced the concept of square Persian-styled gardens here. Emperor Akbar built the Agra fort and Fatehpur Sikri near Agra. Fatehpur Sikri remained his capital for around fifteen years after which the city was left isolated in mysterious circumstances. Jahangir beautified Agra with palaces and gardens despite spending most of his time in Kashmir with which he was passionately attached.
Agra came to its own when Shahjahan ascended to the throne of Mughal Empire. He marked the zenith of Mughal architecture, when he built the Taj in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. In his later years, Shahjahan shifted his capital to the new city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi and ruled from there. Shahjahan was dethroned in 1658 by his son, Aurangzeb who imprisoned him in the Agra Fort. Aurangzeb shifted the capital back to Agra till his death. After the death of Aurangzeb, Mughal Empire could not touch its peak and many regional kingdoms emerged. The post-Mughal era of Agra saw the rule of the Jats, Marathas and finally the British taking over the city.

Origin and DevelopmentAgra is the city of the inimitable Taj Mahal. The story of Agra beigns much earlier then the Taj, However it finds mention in the epic Mahabharata when it was called Agrabana are Paradise. Ptolemy, the famous second century A.D. geographer, marked it on his map of the world as Agra. Tradition and legend ascribe the present city of Raja Badal Singh (around 1475 A.D.) whose Fort, Badalgarh, Stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 12th century A.D. persian poet Salman, too, Speaks of a desperate assault on the forrtress of Agra, then held by one King Jaipal, by sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. It was Mughals who finally nurtured Agra with the finest monuments architects could design : The Taj Mahal  of Shah Jhan, Agra Fort of Akbar, Itmad-Ud-Daulah and neighbouring Sikandra are but few of the many that spangle the city, each of which stands in mute testimony to the city's grandur over the ages.

Location, Boundaries and WeatherThe Agra district is situated in western U.P. between   27.11' degree Latitude North and 78.0' degree to 78.2' degree Longitute East. Its Altitude is 169 meters above sea level. On the North it is bounded by Mathura District, On the South it is bounded by Dhaulpur District, On the East it is bounded by   Firozabad District and On the West it is bounded by Bharatpur. Agra is situated on the bank of Yamuna river.
In Agra Maximum Temperature in Summer is 45°C and minimum temperature is about 21.9°C and in Winter maximum temperature is 131.7°C and minimum tempreature is about 4.2D°C. Best season for tourist is from October to March.

Area and PopulationAccording to Census 1991, the are of Agra district is 4027.00 sqr. km., Where Rural area is 3838.60 sqr. km. and Urban area is 188.40 sqr. km.. Its Total Population is 27,51,021 out of which Males are 15,01,927 and Females are 12,49,094. Of the Total Population, 16,39,935 constitute the Rural Population and 11,11,086 are makes the Urban Population.

The Agra district is divided into Six Tehsils and 15 Blocks. Total number of Nayay Panchayats in the district are 114 while Gram Sabhas stands at 636. The total populated villages are 904. The total number of police stations in the district are 41 out of which 16 are in Urban area and 25 are in Rural area. The total number of Railway Stations (including Halts) are 29 and Bus Stands/Bus Stops are 144. Total number of Broad Guage lines is 196 K.M. and Meter Guage is 35 K.M..   

EconomyAlthough tourism contributes to a large extent in the economy of Agra, the city has a substantial industrial base. A lot of manufacturing plants and industry related wholesale markets is prominent in Agra. Agra Industries are doing a fine job in various fields. Producers and dealers of Agra deal in different products and has a vast market to support them. The economy of Agra is also dependant on indrustrial production. But, the cities industrial base also produces automobiles, leather goods, handicrafts and stone carving.Agra has a good number of apparel and garment manufacturers and exporters. Some of the leading names in the industry are Kamlesh Exports, Jsn International, India Craft etc.Agra has also developed a thriving export business. Agra has developed an important market for the automobile industry. Anil Diesels, Benara Auto, Harvest Group of Industries and Malloys India are some of the major players of the automobile industry in Agra. The leather industry is among the most traditional and original industries of Agra. Today, Agra's economy is mainly dependant on tourism. This city is home to some of the most prestigious spas, resorts and hotels in all of India. In fact, one of the largest spas in all of Asia is the Kaya Kalp which is located in the Hotel Mughal. Primarily the Economy of the Agra district is agriculture based while the economy base of Agra city is Small Scale Industries, Commerce and Trade. Major crops 

More Agra Information / Fast Facts and Orientation
  • Country: India (north)
  • Location: Uttar Pradesh
  • Status: city (state capital)
  • Population: approximately 1.3 million
  • Language: Hindi, Urdu and English
  • Currency: Indian Rupee (IDR / Rs)
  • Time zone: UTC + 5:30
  • Country dialing code: +91
  • Telephone area code: 0562
  • Average daily Agra January temperature: 21°C / 70°F
  • Average daily Agra July temperature: 34°C / 93°F

Tourist Place In Agra

Although many tourists choose to visit Agra as a day trip from New Delhi, there is really much more to see here that is possible in just one day. Especially popular in the Agra area are desert camel rides, the exciting 6-D Adlabs Cinema complex, the white-marble Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), and the magnificent Bageshwarnath Temple, located next to the Raja Ki Mandi Railway Station. Also worth visiting in Agra is Akbar's Mausoleum, which boasts three-storey minarets and many inquisitive, resident monkeys and brightly coloured parakeets.

Agra is blessed with an array of spectacular landmarks, including some of India's finest, such as the Persian-style Chini Ka Rauza and the elaborate Soami Bagh Samadh mausoleum. Famous throughout India is the red-sandstone Agra Fort, which is simply enormous and located on the banks of the winding Yamuna River, dating back to 1565. Affording great photo opportunities, the Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb is often referred to as the 'Baby Taj Mahal', since it bears a striking resemblance to the Taj, only on a much smaller scale.

Taj Mahal

Agra Taj Mahal Taj Mahal of India - "the epitome of love", "a monument of immeasurable beauty". The beauty of this magnificent monument is such that it is beyond the scope of words. The thoughts that come into the mind while watching the Taj Mahal of Agra is not just its phenomenal beauty, but the immense love which was the reason behind its construction. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan got this monument constructed in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, with whom he fell in love at the first sight. The very first sight of the Taj Mahal, the epitome of love and romance leaves one mesmerized.     Standing majestically on the banks of River Yamuna, the Taj Mahal is synonymous with love and romance. It is believed that the name "Taj Mahal" was derived from the name of Shah Jahan wife Mumtaz Mahal and means "Crown Palace". The purity of the white marble, the exquisite ornamentation, precious gemstones used and its picturesque location, all make Taj Mahal travel gain a place amongst the most popular ones. However, unless and until, one knows the love story behind the Tajmahal of India, it will come up as just a beautiful building. But, the love behind this outstanding monument is what has given a life to this monument.

Agra Fort
Agra FortThe great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of the Agra Fort in 1565 A.D., although additions were made till the time of his grandson Shah Jahan. The forbidding exteriors of this fort height an inner pardise. The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the river. It has a total perimeter of 2.4 k.m., and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A 9 mt. wide and 10 mt. deep moat surround the outer wall. There are number of exquisite building like the Moti Masjid-a white marvel mosque akin to a perfect pearl, Diwan-e-Am, Diwan-e-Khaas, Jehangir's Palace, Khaas Mahal, Shish Mahal and Musamman or Samman Burj-where Shahjahan was held captive in 1666 A.D.

Sikandra AgraFour kilometers from Agra is the mausoleum of Akbar. Construction of this beautiful monument was started by Akbar himself. This structure is a perfect blend of Hindu, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain motifs. But Akbar died before his mausoleum could be completed and his son Jehangir completed it.
Jehangir made many modifications in the original plan of the building. The structure gives an excellent idea as to how the Moghal art was developing. From the Humayun's tomb in Delhi to Akbar's Tomb in Sikandra finally to the Taj Mahal. Sikandra is named after Sikander Lodhi. The tomb has three-storey-minarets on its four corners. These minarets are built in red sandstone with stunning inlay work of marble.

Fatehpur Sikri
Fatehpur Sikri AgraFatehpur Sikri is actually a historical capital city made out of twin village of Fatehpur and Sikri that are situated 45 odd kilometers from the city of Agra. The city is situated amidst barren ridge. Emperor Akbar established this city, to serve jointly with Agra, as the imperial capital of Mogul empire. The story of this 4 centuries old city is no less interesting than the city itself.
    It has been reported through the chronicles of History that Emperor Akbar had no issues and that's why his laments new no bound. Somebody advised him to ask for an audience with the famous Sufi saint, Khwaza Salim Chisti who resided at Sikri village. He walked the distance with the royal entourage. Salim Chisti blessed him with a son who was named Salim in reverence to the saint. The same prince when sat on the throne, re-christened himself to Jahangir Jahandar. Akbar ordered to build the city of Sikri to commemorate the arrival of the prince.

Mariam Zamani Tomb
Mariam Zamani AgraMariam Zamani was the Rajput wife of Akbar, and the mother of Jahangir. The mausoleum was built by Jahangir in 1623 in Sikandra. A large garden encompasses the tomb, which is built on a raised platform accessed by a flight of stairs from its northern and southern sides. Brick and mortar have been used in the construction, which is characterized by broad arches and vaulted roofs. A cenotaph is placed just above the tomb, and another, made of marble on the terrace. Stairways lead to the rooms on the next level, and the terrace above, which has four large cupolas on the four corners made of red sandstone.

Ram Bagh 
Ram Bagh AgraThe first Mughal gardens laid by Babur in 1558, half a km from Chini Ka Rauza, were planned carefully in Persian style. They were then named as Bagh-i-Gul Afshan. Later, Jehangir renovated them and named them as Bagh-i-Nur Afshan. Neglected for centuries, these gardens have now turned into wilderness and are known as Ram Bagh. Set to the south of Sarai of Nur Jehan, Babur introduced three-terraced garden here for the first time. The river-drawn water was made to look like a spring, as it artificially descended from one terrace to another through a network of canals, tanks and water chutes that had stairs on both sides ended in a red sandstone pond. The gardens were beautified using 'Chhatris', platforms, pathways and a conglomeration of plants that were cultivated in a landscaped manner. Jehangir had also built two beautiful suites on the two sides of the main terrace and a Mahtab or island platform in the centre, which was connected with the main water system. Ram Bagh symbolizes the erstwhile Mughal pleasure garden that hasn't aged gracefully unlike other legacies of that time.

Dayal Bagh Temple
Dayal Bagh TempleSwami Bagh Temple at Dayal Bagh is 10 km to the north of Agra. Started in 1904, it is still under construction even after 100 years! The white marble Samadhi of the Radha Swami, the founder of a unique religion that seeks to being all religions under one umbrella and preaches unity of mankind, the construction of this temple is not expected to be completed until sometime next century. If you want to witness the Pietra Dura inlaid marble work, you must visit the temple and walk to its sides to see the artisans at work. The aim of this structure is to build a temple for Hindus, a church for Christians, a gurudwara for Sikhs and a mosque for Muslims, each on a separate floor, in the same building, to symbolize brotherhood and unity in mankind. The artistic work here is wonderful and has an outstanding visual appeal. However, locals believe that perfect harmony between all the religions at once is impossible, so the building symbolizing it would never be complete and will be damaged anytime, it is close to being complete.


About Varanasi (Banaras)

Bharat mata temple
Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Many names have been given to Varanasi, though its recently revived official appellation is mentioned in the Mahabharata and in the Jataka tales of Buddhism. It probably derives from the two rivers that flank the city, the Varuna to the north and the Asi to the south.. Many still use the anglicized forms of Banaras or Benares, while pilgrims refer to Kashi, first used three thousand years ago to describe the kingdom and the city outside which the Buddha preached his first sermon; the "City of Light" is also called Kashika, "the shining one", referring to the light of Shiva. Another epithet, Avimukta, meaning "Never Forsaken", refers to the city that Shiva never deserted, or that one should never leave. Further alternatives include Anandavana, the "forest of bliss", and Rudravasa, the place where Shiva (Rudra) resides.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple Varanasi
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Varanasi’s associations with Shiva extend to the beginning of time: legends relate how, after his marriage to Parvati, Shiva left his Himalyan abode and came to reside in Kashi with all the gods in attendance. Temporarily banished during the rule of the great king Divodasa, Shiva sent Brahma and Vishnu as his emissaries, but ultimately returned to his rightful abode protected by his loyal attendants Kalabhairav and Dandapani. Over 350 gods and goddesses, including a protective ring of Ganeshaa form a mandala or sacred pattern with Shiva Vishwanatha at its centre.

Each name carries an additional meaning in terms of the sacred symbolism of the city, with each defining aprogressively decreasing arc starting and ending on the west bank of the Ganges. While the boundary of Kashi is delimited by the circular Panchakroshi Road, Varanasi is the main city, extending from Asi Ghat and circling around to the confluence of the Ganges and the Varuna. Yet a smaller area, defined as Avimukta, starts at Kedara Ghat in the south and ends at Trilochana Ghat. Most important of all is Antargriha, the "Inner Sanctum" around the Vishwanatha Temple, which encompasses Dashashwamedha Ghat, Surya Kund, the lingam of Bharabhuta, and Manikarnika Ghat. Another, later, interpretation suggests three sectors of khandas in the form of Shiva’s trident, each centered around a temple – Omkara to the north, Vishvanatha in the centre and Kendra to the south.

A city which, since it is both an exalted place of pilgrimage and an idealize centre of faith, has been likened to Jerusalem and Mecca.According to the historians, the city was founded some ten centuries before the birth of Christ. The city is mentioned in Holy Scriptures like 'Vamana Purana', Buddhist texts and in the epic 'Mahabharata'.Mark Twain,the English author and litterateur,who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Banaras,once wrote:"Banaras is older than history,older than tradition,older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together."

Varanasi's prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrivalled. For the devout Hindu the city has always had a special place, besides being a pilgrimage centre,it is considered especially auspicious to die here, ensuring an instant route to heaven.The revered and ancient city Varanasi is the religious centre of the world of Hindus. A city where the past and present, eternity and continuity co-exist.

The city of Banaras is situated on the west bank of the holiest of all Indian rivers, the Ganga or Ganges. The relationship between the sacred river and the city is the essence of Varanasi - 'the land of sacred light'. The Ganga is believed to have flown from heaven to wash away the worldly sins of the human race.of mortal's .The life and activities in the city centre around the holy river. Life on the banks of the Ganga begins before dawn when thousands of pilgrims - men, women and children - come down to the river to wait for the rising sun when immersion in the sacred river will cleanse them of their sufferings and wash their sins away.

Along the water's edge, there are the burning ghats. The most sacred one is Manikarnika, associated with Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva's wife. The major shrine is the Vishwanath Temple the abode of Lord Shiva, the most important of the trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara, the Lords of this universe. Around this temple evolved the spiritual identity of Varanasi .The holy city within Banaras is thus called, Kashi, the luminous one or the city of the light.

It is beside the holy waters of the Ganga that the activities for which Banaras is held sacred are performed. Everyday thousands of residents and pilgrims bathe, offer prayers to the elements, to the rising sun, and to their dead ancestors who have been carried away by these waters. What draws people to the river is an ingrained belief that these waters can absolve the sins of many generations.

Everyone has their own way of celebrating the ritual contact with the holy Ganga: some bathe; other dip themselves entirely into the water once, thrice or any number of times; some drink the water; other make water offerings to the sun; while others fill their pots with holy water to take back to their homes to perform rituals and purification.The offerings to the sacred waters vary. Pilgrims give flowers, fruits, lamps and their respectful prayers. On festival days and religious occasions the riverside is thick with their colorful bobbing up and down on the waters.

The land around Banaras is also held sacred since Shiva is believed to have lived here.There are thousands of temples at Benaras dedicated to different gods and goddesses, particularly to the deities of good fortune and prosperity-and to the sun and the planets. The most important are those that honor the diverse manifestations and attributes of Shiva.The major shrine at Banaras is the Vishvanatha Temple, devoted to Shiva, the Lord of the Universe.

The appearance of the pillar of light is said to have occurred at the site of Vishvanatha Temple. The holy city within Banaras is thus called Kashi "The Luminous One' or the 'City of Light'. Light in Hindu philosophy has great meaning for it exemplifies the wisdom that destroys the darkness of ignorance. Sin and evil are understood to be the acts of ignorance. When wisdom is acquired, evil will disappear. Sin cannot be washed away by water or prayer but only by wisdom. Immorality is also reached through wisdom and understanding. So the City of Light is the City of Eternal Wisdom as well. To die in the city beside the river of life is to die with a promise of redemption, a promise to be liberated from the endless cycle of life and death and reincarnation, and to gain moksha or eternal absolution. So for centuries thousands of people have come to Banaras to die and thousands have brought the ashes of the dead here to immerse them in the holy waters.


River Front (Ghats)

Ganga Varanasi
The great river banks at Varanasi, built high with eighteenth and nineteenth-century pavilions and palaces, temples and terraces, are lined with an endless chain of stone steps – the ghats – progressing along the whole of the waterfront, altering in appearance with the dramatic seasonal fluctuations of the river level. Each of the hundred ghats, big and small, is marked by a lingam, and occupies its own special place in the religious geography of the city. Some have crumbled over the years, others continue to thrive, with early-morning bathers, brahmin priests offering puja, and people practicing meditation and yoga. Hindus puja, and people practicing meditation and yoga. Hindus regard the Ganges as amrita, the elixir of life, which brings purity to the living and salvation to the dead; sceptical outsiders tend to focus on all-persuasive and extreme lack of hygiene. Ashes to the dead, emissions from open drains and the left-overs from religious rites float by the devout as they go about their bathing and ceremonial cleansing.
For centuries, pilgrims have traced the perimeter of the city by a ritual circumambulation , paying homage to shrines on the way. Among the most popular routes is the Panchatirthi Yatra, which takes in the Pancha, (five) Trithi (crossing) of Asi, Dashashwamedha, Adi Keshva, Panchganga and finally Manikarnika. To gain merit or appease the gods, the devotee, accompanied by a panda (priest), recites a sankalpa (statement of intent) and performs a ritual at each stage of the journey. For the casual visitor, however the easiest way to see the is to follow a south-north sequence either by boat or on foot.

Asi Ghat to Kedara Ghat

At the clay-banked Asi Ghat, the southernmost in the sacred city, at the confluence of the Asi and the Ganges, pilgrims bathe prior to worshipping at a huge lingam under a peepal tree. Another lingam visited is that of Asisangameshvara, the "Lord of the Confluence of the Asi", in a small marble temple just off the ghat. Traditionally, pilgrims continued to Lolarka Kund, the Trembling Sun", a rectangular tank fifteen metres blow ground level, approached by steep steps. Now almost abandoned, except during the Lolarka Mela fair (Aug/Sept), when thousands come to propitiate the gods and pray for the birth of a son, Lolarka Kund is among Varanasi’s earliest sites, one of only two remaining Sun sites linked with the origins of Hinduism. Equated with the twelve adityas or divisions of the sun, which predate the great deities of Modern Hinduism, it was attracting bathers in the days of the buddha.
Much of the adjacent Tulsi Ghat – originally Lolarka Ghat, but renamed in the honour of the poet Tulsidas, who lived nearby in the sixteenth century – has crumbled. Continuing north, above Shivala Ghat, hanuman Ghat is the site of a new temple built by the ghat’s large south Indian community. Considered by many to be the birth place of the fifteenth-century Vaishnavite saint Vallabha, who was instrumental in in the resurgence of the worship of Krishna, the ghat also features a striking image of Ruru, the dog Bhairava, a ferocious and early form of Shiva.
Named for a legendary king said to have almost lost everything in a fit of self-abnegation, Harishchandra Ghat, one of the Varanasi’s two cremation of burning ghats, is easily recognizable from the smoke of its funeral pyres.
Further north, the busy Kendra Ghat is ignored by pilgrims on the Panchatirthi Yatra. Above its steps, a red-and-white-striped temple houses the Kedareshvara lingam, an outcrop of black rock shot through with a vein of white. Mythologically related to Kedarnath in the Himalayas, Kedara and its ghat become a hive of activity during the sacred month of Sravana (July/Aug), the month of the rains.

Chauki Ghat to chausathi Ghat

Northwards along the river, Chauki Ghat is distinguished by an enormous tree that shelters small stones shrines to the nagas, water-snake deities, while at the unmistakable Dhobi (Laundrymen’s) Ghat clothes are still rhythmically pulverized in the pursuit of purity. Past smaller ghats such as Mansarovar Ghat, named after the holy lake in Tibet, and Narada Ghat, honouring the divine musician and sage, lies Chausathi Ghat, where impressive stone steps lead up to the small temple of the Chausathi (64) Yoginis. Images of Kali and Durga in its inner sanctum represent a stage in the emergence of the great goddess as a single representation of a number of female divinities. Overlooking the ghats here is Peshwa Amrit Rao’s majestic sandstone haveli (mansion), built in 1807 and currently used for religious ceremonies and occasionally, as an auditorium for concerts.

Dashashwamedha Ghat

Ganga Aarti Varanasi
Dashashwamedha Ghat, the second and business of the five tirthas on the Panchatirthi Yatra, lies past the plain, flat-roofed building that houses the shrine of Shitala. Extremely popular, even in the rainy season when devotees have to wade to the temple or take a boat, Shitala represents both both benign and malevolent aspects – ease and succour as well as disease, particularly smallpox.
Dashashwamedha is Varanasi’s most popular and accessible bathing ghat, with rows of pandas sitting on wooden platforms under bamboo umbrellas, masseurs plying their trade and boatmen jostling for custom. Its name, "ten horse sacrifices", derives from a complex series of sacrifices performed by Brahma to test King Divodasa: Shiva and Parvati were sure the king’s resolve would fail, and he would be compelled to leave Kashi, thereby allowing them to return to their city. However, the sacrifices were so perfect that Brahma established the Brahmeshvara lingam here. Since that time, Dashashwamedha has become one of the most celebrated tirthas on earth, where pilgrims can reap the benefits of the huge sacrifice merely by bathing.

Man Mandir Ghat to Lalita Ghat

Man Mandir Ghat is known primarily for its magnificent eighteenth-century observatory, equipped with ornate window casings, and built for the Maharajah of Jaipur. Pilgrims pay homage to the important lingam of Someshvara, the lord of the moon, alongside, before crossing Tripurabhairavi Ghat to Mir Ghat and the New Vishwanatha Temple, built by conservative brahmins who claimed that the main Vishwanatha lingam was rendered impure when Harijans (untouchables) entered the sanctum in 1956. Mir Ghat also has a shrine to Vaishalakshi, the Wide-Eyed Goddess, on an important pitha – a site marking the place where various parts of the disintegrating body of Shakti fell as it was carried by the grief-stricken Shiva. Also here is the Dharma Kupa, the Well of Dharma, surrounded by subsidiary shrines and the lingam over all the dead of the world – except here in Varanasi.
Immediately to the north is Lalita Ghat, renowned for its ganga Keshava shrine to Vishnu and the Nepali Temple, a typical Kathmandu-style wooden temple which houses an image of Pashupateshvara – Shiva’s manifestation at Pashupatinath, in the Mathmandu Valley – and sports a small selection of erotic carvings.

Manikarnika Ghat

North of Lalita lies Varanasi’s pre-eminent cremation ground, Manikarnika Ghat. Such grounds are usually held to be inauspicious, and located on the fringes of cities, but the entire city of Shiva is regarded as Mahashmashana, the Great Cremation Ground for the corpse of the entire universe. The ghat is perpetually crowded with funeral parties, as well as the Doms, its Untouchable guardians, busy and pre-occupied with facilitating final release for those lucky enough to pass away here. Seeing bodies being cremated so publicly has always exerted a great fascination for visitors to the city, but photography is strictly taboo; even having a camera visible may be constructed as intent, and provoke hostility.
Lying at the centre of the five tirthas, manikarnika Ghat symbolizes both creation and destruction, epitomized by the juxtaposition of the sacred well of Manikarnika Kund, said to have been dug by Vishnu at the time of creation, and the hot, sandy ash-infused soil of cremation grounds where time comes to an end. In Hindu mythology, Manikarnika Kund predates the arrival of the Ganga and has its source deep in the Himalayas. Vishnu cared the kund with his discus, and filled it with perspiration from his exertions in creating the world, at the behest of Shiva. When Shiva quivered with delighted, his earning fell into this pool, which as manikarnika – "Jewelled Earring" – became the first tirthas in the world. Every yea, after the floodwaters of the river have receded to leave the pool caked in alluvial deposits, the kund is re-dug. Its surroundings are cleaned and painted with brightly coloured folk art, which depicts the presiding goddess, Manikarnika Devi, inviting pilgrims to bathe and worship at its small Vishnu shrine, and at the paduka (footprint) of Vishnu set in marble on the embankment of the ghat. The most important of the lingams is the remains of Tarakeshvara, Shiva as Lord of Taraka mantra, a "prayer of the crossing" recited at death.
Strictly speaking, Manikarnika is the name given to the kund and to the ghat, while the constantly busy cremation ground is Jalasi Ghat, dominated by a dark smoke-stained temple built by Queen Ahalya Bai Holkar of Indore in the eighteenth century.

Scindia Ghat

Bordering Manikarnika to the north is the picturesque Scindia Ghat, with its titled Shiva temple lying partially submerged in the river, having fallen in as a result of the sheer weight of the ghat’s construction around 150 years ago. Above the ghat, several of Kashi’s most influential shrines are hidden within the tight maze of alleyways of the area known as Siddha Kshetra (the field of Fulfilment). Vireshvara, the Lord of all Heroes, is especially propitiated in prayer for a son; the Lord of Fire, Agni, was supposed to have been born here.

Panchganga Ghat to Adi Keshva Ghat

Beyond Lakshmanbala Ghat, with its commanding views of the river. Lies one of the most dramatic and controversial ghats, Panchganga Ghat, dominated by Varanasi’s largest riverside building, the great mosque of Alamgir, known locally as Beni Madhav-ka-Darera. With its minarets now much shortened, the mosque stands on the ruins of what must have been one of the city’s greatest temples, Bindu Madhava, a huge Vishnu temple that extended from Panchganga to Rama Ghat before it was destroyed by Aurangzeb and replaced by an impressive mosque. Panchganga also bears testimony to more favourable Hindu-Muslim relations, being the site of the initiation of the medieval saint of the Sufi-Sant tradition, Kabir, the son of a humble Muslim weaver who is venerated by Hindus and Muslims alike. Along the river front lies a curious array of three-sided cells, submerged during the rainy season, some with lingams, others with images of Vishnu, and some empty and used for meditation or yoga. One of these is a shrine to the Five (panch) Rivers (ganga) which, according to legend, have their confluence here: the two symbolic rivulets of Dhutapapa (Cleansed of Sin) and the Kirana (Sun’s Ray), which join the mythical confluence of the Yamuna and the Yamuna and the Sarasvati with the Ganga.
Above Trilochana Ghat, further north, is the holy ancient lingam of the Three (tri) Eye (lochana) Shiva. Beyond it, the river bypasses some of Varanasi’s oldest precincts, now predominantly Muslim in character; the ghats themselves gradually become less impressive and are usually of the kaccha (clay-banked) variety.
At Adi Keshava Ghat (the "Original Vishnu"), on the outskirts of the city, the Varana flows into the Ganga. Unapproachable during the rainy season, when it is completely submerged, it marks the place where Vishnu first landed as an emissary of Shiva, and stands on the original site of the city before it spread southwards; around Adi Keshva are a number of Ganesha shrine.

Vishwanatha Khanda

the Old City at the heart of Varanasi, between Dashashwamedha Ghat and Godaulia to the south and west and Manikarnika Ghat on the river to the north, lies Vishwanatha Khanda, sometimes referred to as the Old City. The whole area rewards exploration, with numerous shrines and lingams tucked into every corner, and buzzing with the activity of pilgrims, pandas and stalls selling offerings to the faithful.
Approached through a maze of narrow alleys and the Vishwanatha Gali (or Lane), the temple complex of Vishwanatha or Visheshwara, the "Lord of All", is popularly known as the Golden Temple, due to the massive gold plating on its shikhara (spire). Inside the compound - which is hidden behind a wall, and entered through an unassuming doorway - is one of India's most important shivalingams, made of smooth black stone and seated in a solid silver plinth, as well as shrines to the wrathful protectors Mahakala and Dandapani, and the lingam of Avimukteshvara, the Lord of the Unforsaken, which predates Vishwanatha and once held much greater significance. The current temple was built in 1777 by Queen Ahalya Bai Holkar of Indore, and is closed to non-Hindus, who have to make do with glimpses from adjacent buildings.
Vishwanatha's history has been fraught Sacked by successive Muslim rulers, the temple was repeatedly rebuilt, until the grand edifice begun in 1585 by Todar Mal, a courtier of the tolerant Moghul Akbar, was finally destroyed by Aurangzeb. On its foundations, guarded by armed police to protect it from Hindu fanatics, stands the Jnana Vapi Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Aurangzeb. Its simple white domes tower over the Jnana Vapi (Wisdom Well), immediately north, housed in an open arcaded hall built in 1828, where Shiva cooled his lingam after the construction of Vishwanatha. Covered by a grate to prevent people jumping in, in search of instant moksha, and covered with a cloth to stop coins being thrown in, only the presiding brahmins have access to its waters, considered to be liquid knowledge.
Pilgrims offer their sankalpa or statement of intent here, before commencing the Panchatirthi Yatra. Slightly north, across the main road, the thirteenth-century Razia's Mosque stands atop the ruins of a still earlier Vishwanatha temple, destroyed under the Sultanate.
Close by, the temple of Annapurna Bhavani is dedicated to the supreme Shakti ("She, the Being of Plenteous Food"), the queen and divine mother also known in this benevolent form as Mother of the Three Worlds. As the provider of sustenance, she carries a cooking pot rather than the fearsome weapons borne by her horrific forms Durga and Kali a subsidiary shrine opened only three days a year houses a solid gold image of Annapurna. Nearby is a stunning image, faced in silver against a black surround, of Shani or Saturn. Anyone whose fortunes fall under his shadow is stricken with bad luck - a fate devotees try to escape by worshipping here on Saturdays.

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple

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 his supremacy over other gods, broke through the earth’s crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varanasi. Entry restricted for foreigners.


Varanasi or Kashi, i.e. the City of Spiritual Light is considered to be one of the oldest living cities in the world.The glorious traditions and mythological legacy of this shining city are virtually unrivalled.Varanasi is a multifaceted city, that is why it offers a breathtaking experience to every visitor. The rays of the dawn shimmering across the mother Ganga….the high banks, the temples and shrines…soul steering hymns and mantras along with the fragrance of incense filling the air … the refreshing dip in the holy water gently splashing at the magnificent ‘Ghats’ …and a rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts & education… truly this is the city where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss.

This city is also reputed for its schools of dance & music, arts, silk and carpet industries and handicrafts.
A row of ghats, temples and the revered neighbourhood of Sarnath have added manifold glory to this city.
Keeping in view the importance of Varanasi, the Department of Tourism, Uttar Pradesh organises Ganga Mahotsav here every year.

Ganga Mahotsav

Ganga mahotsav…..a festival only once of its kind, certainly doubles the attraction of this city of temples, Ghats and traditions. 
As classical music fills the atmosphere, a mystique seems to envelop the environs awating a mood both celestial and soulful. The classical music rendered by maestros indeed imparts an unforgettable flavour. The attraction of the five-day-long Ganga Mahotsav is its message of faith and culture, that increase with the daily Shilp Mela and the unique Dev Deepawali with innumerable ‘Diyas’ or earthen lamps in chain, lit by devotees and which floating down the river on the full moon night of Kartik, a spectacle both mystical and heart winning.

Boudh Mahotsav

One of the greatest spiritual teachers of mankind which India has produced is undoubtedly, Buddha. Edwin Arnold has fittingly called him the "Light of Asia". Buddha's message has traveled far and wide and captured the hearts and minds of billions of people outside India also.
This festival celebrates the birth of bird of Lord Buddha with traditional religious fervor. A large fair is held at Sarnath and the relice of the Buddha are taken out for public display in a procession on this day in the month of May. The beauty of this event is amplified by millions of earthen lamps "Diyas" placed dottedly in Mulgand Kuti Vihar and two days Cultural Programmer organized by U.P. Tourism adds the magnificence to the event.

Ganga Water Rally (Allahabad-Mirzapur-Chunar-Varanasi)

Exploring scenic beauty along with river Ganga with historical ghats on its bank, Ganga water rally develops adventure tourism in India. It is an event of complete adventure and fun. The Boat Club Allahabad patronizes this event and the participants coming from all the corners of India and abroad use kayaks, canoes or row boats in this nomadic sport. Occurring in the month of November Ganga Water Rally is the first major water sporting events of its kind in the state. Here, the adventurous persons would be taken on a nerve rattling sojourn down the Ganga from Allahabad to Varanasi through Mirzapur and Chunar.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My India

All about india

India at a Glance

India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It has achieved all-round socio-economic progress during the last 64 years of its Independence. India has become self-sufficient in agricultural production and is now one of the top industrialized countries in the world and one of the few nations to have gone into outer space to conquer nature for the benefit of the people. It covers an area of 32,87,263 sq. km, extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.

Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere, the mainland extends between latitudes 8° 4' and 37° 6' north, longitudes 68° 7' and 97° 25' east and measures about 3,214 km from north to south between the extreme latitudes and about 2,933 km from east to west between the extreme longitudes. It has a land frontier of about 15,200 km. The total length of the coastline of the mainland, Lakshadweep Islands and Andaman & Nicobar Islands is 7,516.6 km.