Varanasi Travel Agent

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.

PLACES OF INTEREST

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 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 foreign.

River Front (Ghats) 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.

Sarnath near the city of Varanasi, was the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon after his illumination. This site became a great Buddhist center, especially in the Sec. III BC until the Sec. XII D.C. where about 5 Buddhist monks lived in 30 monasteries.Stupa Dharmaekh is believed to have been the exact location, where Lord Buddha first uttered revealed the Octuple Way leading to Nirvana

SHOPPING

Varanasi is famous for its silk weaving, and Banarasi silks are a part of every girl's wedding trousseau. Banaras Brocades are prized the world over. Brassware, copperware, wooden and clay toys and exquisite gold jewellery are some of the other craft the city is famous for. The hand - knotted carpets of Mirzapur and musical instruments are among the other shopping attractions. Banaras is also famous for its ' Langda Aam', a variety of mangoes available in the summer. Betel leaf is also a specialty. The main shopping areas are Chowk, Vishwanath Gali, Thatheri bazaar, Lahurabir, Godoulia , Dashswamedh Gali and Golghar. With hustlers and rickshaw drivers keen to drag tourists into shops offering commission, shopping in Varanasi can be a nightmare but its worth seeking out the city's rich Silk weaving and brasswork. The best areas to browse are the Thatheri Bazaar (for brass), Jnana Vapi and the Vishwanatha Gall with its Temple Bazaar (for silk brocade and jewellery). State run emporia in Godaulia, lahurabir and the Chowk - the three Handlooms outlets at Lahurabir, Nadesar and Neechi Bag, and Mahatex in Godaulia - of fixed prices and assured quality. Housed in a former palace opposite the Taj Hotel, Cantt, the CIE has a large and impressive selection but, despite its official-sounding name, is outrageously expensive Kashmiri-run chain aimed exclusively at the fivestar market. Sales pitches tend to become more aggressive when it comes to silk, and you need be wary of the hard-sell. Qazi Sadullahpura, near Chhavi Mahal Cinema, lies at the heart of a fascinating Muslim neighbourhood devoted to the production of silk. Upica, the government-run emporium has the advantage of fixed prices, with outlets at Godaulia opposite the Taj Hotel, Cantt. Handloom House, D64/132K Sigra, another government sponsored chain, is the best and safest place to buy silk with a modern showroom although the sales staff appear disorganized. For tailoring, try Paraslakshmi Exports, Chandrika Colony), a silk business providing a good and prompt service; they'll deliver to your hotel, and also offer ready-made waistcoats and boxer shorts.

URBAN HAAT
Keeping the preferences of tourists in mind the city has developed an Urban Haat where artisans (State and National Awarded) from various states are brought together to showcase the handicrafts of India daily on roster basis of 15 Days. So that the excitement of up coming crafts remains the same. The Compound of Haat is provided with all basic public amenities accolade the Indian music, art, craft and culture spiced with exclusive food plazas. Venue : Urban Haat, Sanskritik Sankul, Maqbool Alam Road, Chowka Ghat, Varanasi.