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Varanasi Tour & Activities

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History of Varanasi

The original name of Varanasi was 'Kashi,' derived from the word 'Kasha', meaning brightness. There are many legends associated with the ancient city. It is believed that the Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati lived here on the banks of the Ganges River. The present name Varanasi has its origin in the two tributaries of the Ganges - Varuna and Assi, which flank its northern and southern borders. It was here that the two rivers locked a piece of land that became a Hindu pilgrimage site, specifically as the holiest cremation spot to attain salvation. The great riverbanks of Varanasi are lined with an endless network of stone steps – the ghats – progressing all along the waterfront, altering in appearance with the seasonal fluctuations of the river level. The Hindus believe a dip in the Ganges along the ghats can wash away all sins. Thousands of people spend the last days of their life here. It is a particularly auspicious place to die, because one is believed to attain moksha here (liberation from the cycle of birth and death), making Varanasi the beating heart of the Hindu universe.

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MUSIC, ARTS, CRAFT & EDUCATION

Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education. The city is a center of learning and civilization for over 3000 years. Aptly called as the cultural capital of India, Varanasi has provided the right platform for all cultural activities to flourish. Many exponents of dance and music have come from Varanasi. Ravi Shankar, the internationally renowned Sitar maestro and Ustad Bismillah Khan, (the famous Shehnai player) were born or have lived here for a major part of their lives. Apart from these musical masters, Varanasi abounds in the art of silk weaving. The Banarasi silk sarees and silk brocades are cherished as collector's items across the world today.

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Varanasi Top Festivals


RAMLEELA - RAMNAGAR

The unique Ramleela of Ramnager performed in the pageant style, was started about 1830 by Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh of Banaras, and has today become famous the world over. Thousends gather to see the enactments during months of sep.- oct.


MAHASHIVARATRI

On this day every Shiv Mandir is decorated. In Varanasi a marriage procession of Lord Shiva is taken out starting from Mahamrityunjaya Temple, Daranagar to Kashi Vishwanath Temple via Chowk. nagnathaya.jpg (10547 bytes)


NAG NATHAIYA LEELA

In a performance, Lord Krishana jumps into Ganga for Nag Nathan at the local Tulsi Ghat. It is famous as Nag Nathaiya Leela . Many people congregate to see this event, held during the months of Nov.-Dec.


PANCH KOSHI PARIKRAMA

It has a special importance in the ancient Parikrama of India, starting and finishing at ManiKarnika Ghat. Each Parikrama passes through five places: Kardmeshwar, Bhimchandi, Rameshwar, Shivpur & Kapil Dhara.


Dipawali& Dev Dipawali

Dev Deepavali is celebrated on the occasion of Kartik Poornima when the Ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of Diyas (earthen lamps). Dev Deepavali, celebrated on the fifteenth day of Diwali, is a tribute to river Ganga by the people of Varanasi. Dev Deepavali is held on the full moon day in the month of Kartik (also known as Kartik Purnima) and is observed with great fanfare and feasts. It is believed that on the day of Dev Deepavali, the Gods descend on Earth.


Durga Puja

Durga Puja is the ceremonial worship of the mother goddess, is one of the most important festivals of India. Apart from being a religious festival for the Hindus, it is also an occasion for reunion and rejuvenation, and a celebration of traditional culture and customs. While the rituals entails ten days of fast, feast and worship, the last four days - Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami - are celebrated with much gaiety and grandeur in India and abroad, especially in Bengal, where the ten-armed goddess riding the lion is worshipped with great passion and devotion.


Holi

One of the major festivals of India, Holi is celebrated with enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar.
Holi festival may be celebrated with various names and people of different states might be following different traditions. But, what makes Holi so unique and special is the spirit of it which remains the same throughout the country and even across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.


GANGA MAHOTSAV

Ganga Mahotsav, the tourism festival of Varanasi is celebrated every year from Prabodhani Ekadashi toA dance presentation at Ganga Mahotsav Kartik Purnima in the month of Oct.-Nov. The festival celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Varanasi. Apart from the excelent cultural programmes and country boat race, displaying of marital arts also takes place. The concluding day coincides with the unique traditional festival of Dev Deepavali (light festivel of Gods), when more than a million erthen lamps (Diyas) are lit on the Ghats of Ganga.