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Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh Travel Guide

Varanasi, known also as Kashi, Benares, is a prominent pilgrimage center for the Hindus. At least once in their life time they wish to visit the city. The city has mythological significance as well as the traditional. It is one of the oldest cities of India. Varanasi is located in Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the river Ganges. There are four universities in Varanasi, including the famous Benares Hindu University.

It is the home for the Benares Gharana of the Hindustani classical music. In the ancient times it was famous for muslin, silk, ivory, and perfumes. Varanasi has been a major tourist center, a center for conventional Sanskrit learning, and also a center for silk embroidered fabrics. Varanasi is the city of temples. With narrow lanes, shops on both side of the roads, temples on the Ghats, the Ghats crowded with pilgrims the city adorns a typical traditional look. Many poets (Kabir, Tulsidas), writers (Bharatendu Harishchandra), musicians (Bismilla Khan, Girija devi, Ravi Shankar), dancers (Kishan Maharaj) have flourished the art and culture of the city.

Places in and around the city:
» Temples: Innumerable numbers of temples are located within the temple complex of the city. Mostly people visit Varanasi to take a dip in the river Ganges and to pay obeisance to Lord Kashi Vishwanatha. It is considered to be one among the twelve Jyotirlingas.
» Ghats: There are around hundred Ghats in Kashi. Many of them are used for bathing; quite a few are for used for the cremation purpose. They were built during the Maratha rule. Ghats can be visited only by foot.
» Learning centers: Varanasi has been a major center for Sanskrit studies. Five Universities are here, including one Islamic studies and one for Tibetan studies.
» Jantar Mantar: an observatory built by Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur. It is close to Dashashwamedh Ghat.  
» Archeological museum: It is in Sarnath which is just 13kms away from Varanasi.
» Sarnath : Sarnath is a Buddhist pilgrimage. It is said that Buddha gave his sermon here. The archeological site at Sarnath is converted into a museum. The initiation to build such a site was taken up by John Marshal, the chairperson of the Archeological survey of India in 1910. 
» Kalabhavan: It is inside the complex of Benares Hindu University. Paintings, sculptures belonging to Hindu and Buddhist traditions are displayed here.
» Ramnagar Fort: This fort belonged to the Maharaja of Benares (Maharaja Balwant Singh). The place is 14kms away from Benares. It has been converted into a museum displaying antique clocks, manublockeds (Tulsidas\'s handwritten manublocked has been preserved), palanquins, cars, and things used by the royal family. A clock displaying the astronomical cycles attracts the tourists. 

If you want to get out for a long distance drive from Varanasi, you can think of visiting Gaya which is 210kms away from here. How to Reach Varanasi is well connected by road and railways. Frequent buses are there from Agra, Delhi, Lucknow, Allahabad and Mumbai. By train also we can reach from above mentioned cities. Varanasi has two stations: one is in the main city (Varanasi junction) and the other one is about 15kms away from the city (Mughal Sarai). Varanasi is close to the Nepal border. So, one can chose to visit Nepal from here by taking a flight or by road. Varanasi Airport is on the outskirts of the city. So you may need at least one hour to reach the airport. Shopping Varanasi is well known for its silk fabric. Banarasi Sarees are bought for marriages. Embroidered with golden zari are in demand. Religious minded can buy brass items for their pooja.

You can buy at any shop, but do remember to bargain. Try chats like Aloo chat, and paani puri from the street stalls, and Benares is known for its special Aloo Dum masala. After a heavy meal don\'t forget to try the special Banarasi paan! Other details Varanasi looks typical in some of the festivals like Diwali and Shivratri. Earthen lamps will be floated on the Ganges during nights and that will be a marvelous sight. Beware of Rickshaw scams and taxi scams. Go for reliable sources before hiring a taxi. Visitors will have to take out their shoes in every temple. You can go for a boat ride in the Ganges.

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