Varanasi, or Benaras, (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi`s Prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrevealed. Mark Twain, the English author and literature, who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Benaras, once wrote : "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together" . According to the 'Vamana Purana', the Varuna and the Assi rivers originated from the body of the primordial Person at the beginning of time itself. The tract of land lying between them is believed to be 'Varanasi', the holiest of all pilgrimages. The word 'Kashi' originated from the word 'Kas' which means to shine. Steeped in tradition and mythological legacy, Kashi is the 'original ground ' created by Shiva and Parvati, upon which they stood at the beginning of time. Varanasi is the microcosm of Hinduism, a city of traditional classical culture, glorified by myth and legend and sanctified by religion , it has always attracted a large number of pilgrims and worshippers from time immemorial. To be in Varanasi is an experience in itself an experience in self–discover an eternal oneness of the body and soul. To every visitor; Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience. The rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges, the high-banks, the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue soul stirring hymns and mantras alongwith the fragrance of incense filling the air and the refreshing dip in the holy waters gently splashing at the Ghats. Varanasi – the land where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss. Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education. Some of the world renowned exponents India has produced in these fields were schooled in Varanasi's cultural ethos. Luminaries apart, Varanasi abounds in the art of silk weaving, an exotic work of art which manifests itself in precious Banarasi Silk Sarees and Silk brocades which are cherished as collector's items across the world today.
The urban agglomeration is stretched between 82° 56'E – 83° 03'E and 25° 14'N – 25° 23.5'N.
Varanasi experiences a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cwa) with large variations between summer and winter temperatures.The dry summer starts in April and lasts until June, followed by the monsoon season from July to October. The temperature ranges between 22 and 46 °C (72 and 115 °F) in the summers. Winters in Varanasi see very large diurnal variations, with warm days and downright cold nights. Cold waves from the Himalayan region cause temperatures to dip across the city in the winter from December to February and temperatures below 5 °C (41 °F) are not uncommon. The average annual rainfall is 1,110 mm (44 in). Fog is common in the winters, while hot dry winds, called loo, blow in the summers. In recent years, the water level of the Ganges has decreased significantly; upstream dams, unregulated water extraction, and dwindling glacial sources due to global warming may be to blame.
Varanasi is well connected by air, rail and road. One of the major factors in Varanasi's sustained existence as an inhabited city is its role as an established transportation hub between cities.
Varanasi is served by Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, which is approximately 26 km (16 mi) from the city centre in Babatpur. The airport inaugurated a new terminal in 2010, and it was granted international airport status on October 4, 2012. Air India, Buddha Air, Jet Airways, Jet Konnect, and SpiceJet operate flights from Varanasi to Delhi, Gaya, Kathmandu, Khajuraho, Sharjah, Lucknow, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata. Over 330,000 passengers pass through the airport each year.
Varanasi Junction, commonly known as Varanasi Cantt Railway Station, is the city's largest train station; more than 3.6 lakh passengers and 240 trains pass through each day.
Varanasi lies along National Highway 2, which connects it to Kolkata, Kanpur, Agra and Delhi. National Highway 29 connects Varanasi to Gorakhpur via Ghazipur to the northeast. National Highway 56 connects Varanasi to Lucknow via Jaunpur and Sultanpur, to the northwest. National Highway 7, the longest National Highway in India, is the most important road connecting Varanasi to southern India, passing through the cities of Hyderabad, Bangalore, Salem, Madurai, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari. Auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are the most widely available forms of public transport in old city. In the outer regions of the city, buses are common, and taxis are available.
Banarasi sari -
Approximately 29% of Varanasi's population is employed. Approximately 40% of those employed work in manufacturing, 26% work in trade and commerce, 19% work in other services, 8% work in transport and communication, 4% work in agriculture, 2% work in construction, and 2% are marginal workers (working for less than half of the year).
Among manufacturing workers, 51% work in spinning and weaving, 15% work in metal, 6% work in printing and publishing, 5% work in electrical machinery, and the rest work in a wide variety of industry sectors.Varanasi's manufacturing industry is not well developed and is dominated by small-scale industries and household production.
Silk weaving is the dominant manufacturing industry in Varanasi. Weaving is typically done within the household, and most weavers are Momin Ansari Muslims. Varanasi is known throughout India for its production of very fine silk and Banarasi saris, brocades with gold and silver thread work, which are often used for weddings and special occasions. The production of silk often uses bonded child labour, though perhaps not at a higher rate than elsewhere in India. The silk weaving industry has recently been threatened by the rise of power looms and computer-generated designs and by competition from Chinese silk traders.
In the metal manufacturing sector, Diesel Locomotive Works is a major employer. Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, a large power equipment manufacturer, also runs a heavy equipment repair plant. Other major commodities manufactured and traded in Varanasi include hand-knotted Mirzapur carpets, rugs, dhurries, brassware, copperware, wooden and clay toys, handicrafts, gold jewellery, and musical instruments. Important agricultural products include betel leaves (for paan), langra mangoes and khoa (solidified milk).
Tourists shopping for jewelry in Varanasi
Tourism is Varanasi's second most important industry. Over 3 million domestic and 200,000 foreign tourists visit annually (as of 2005 and 2010, respectively), most commonly for religious reasons. Most domestic tourists are from Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh; most foreign tourists are from Sri Lanka and Japan. The peak tourist season falls between October and March. In total, there are around 12,000 beds available in the city, of which about one half are in inexpensive budget hotels and one third in dharamsalas. Overall, Varanasi's tourist infrastructure is not well developed.
The prominent malls and multiplexes in Varanasi are IP Mall in Sigra, IP Vijaya Mall in Bhelupur, PDR in Luxa and JHV Mall in the Varanasi Cantonment area. The city has several banks, including the State Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, Andhra Bank, Allahabad Bank, and the Central Bank of India.
Varanasi has its own culture of fine art and literature. Great Indian writers have lived in the city: Kabir, Ravidas and Tulsidas, who wrote much of his Ram Charit Manas here, Kulluka Bhatt, who wrote the best known commentary of Manusmṛti here in the 15th century and Bharatendu Harishchandra.
THE CULTURAL CAPITAL OF INDIA -
1. Importance of Banaras in India and especially for Hindus; various aspects of Banaras, its many names and what makes it the cultural capital of India.
2. Archaeology, Mythology, Geography, and History of Banaras- its unique situation on Ganges, and its journey through the history of India, and quest to know what makes it oldest living city.
3. Religious Varanasi- Many religions, place and types of worship, a religious place and institutions. You will find that even Primitive worship cults are still practiced in this city. Discover the city of Buddha, Jain Tirthankars, Shaiva and Vaishnava saints or Devoted saints like Kabir and Tulsi.
4. Arts, Crafts and Architecture of Banaras: You will be amused to see that Varanasi is a Museum architectural designs. It presents changing patterns and movements in course of history. It has a rich and original variety of paintings and sculptor styles and equally rich treasures of folk art. During the ages Varanasi has produced master craftsmen and Varanasi has earned name and fame for its Sarees, handicrafts, textiles, Toys, ornaments, metal work, clay and wood work, leaf and fibre crafts. With ancient crafts, Banaras has not lagged behind in Modern Industries.
5. Discover Ganga- the holiest of the holy river- its mythology, geography, socio- economic aspects, its monumental ghats and their story and the present condition of pollution.
6. The Capital of all knowledge- Discover the most ancient seat of education in India World the famous scholars and their `Shastrarthas', the great scholars, universities, college, schools, Madarsas and Pathshalas and Guru Shishya traditions, the epics, famous literary works, languages and dialects, journalistic traditions- newspapers and magazine, and famous libraries.
7. Discover the social and cultural fabric- Organisation of sacred complex and social spaces, the cultural pluristic, linguistic and ethnic groups. Discover the city of affluence, intellectuals, oral traditions, castes and customs, personalities, professions, communal harmony . Discover the rural Varanasi. And finally (and with deep insight) peep into, the pleasure of Pans, Thandai, Gamcha, Bahri Alang and Mauj Masti.
8. The City of Music and Drama and Entertainment: Banaras has been famous for its Music both vocal instrumental, it has its own dance tradition. Add to this a very rich stock of folk Music and drama (esp. Ramlila), the tradition Musical soirees, fairs and festival the rich tradition of Akharas, games and sports. Add to this classical Banaras Transport vehicles like Ekka and Modern Traffic Jam.
9. Industrial City: Discover the fast developing city of heavy, light and cottage industries, local handicrafts and other small scale industrial units. ( DLW, BHEL, Electric, Cycle,Pumps, Paper, Glass, Fertilizer etc.)
10. Medical World of Varanasi: Discover the ancient College of Plastic Surgery, Sushruta, Dhanvantri (God of Medicine), Divodas, and practice of all the ancient and modern systems of medicine in action.
11. The Unseen Banaras: Discover the spots around Varanasi, instituions, story of freedom struggle and the martyrs, history of Kashiraj, history of Sarnath, history of Bhadohi (Carpet town), of Mirzapur, of Ghazipur, know about the famous travellers and tourists, of the `Nijam'. And finally having seen the Panorama of Banaras, its continuity of culture, discover the identity of Banaras.
BANARASI MUSIC & DANCE -
MUSIC is the soul of life, OM or PRANAV is supposed to be the root of creation. SAMVEDA, one of our earliest scriptures is also our earliest music. Later SAMGAAN developed into various forms and styles of music.it is known that every land has its own music. These are called after the place as for example Karnatak Music or Pahari Music. Similarly a person of a group develops its own style and that becomes a school or Gharana of Music.Kashi-Varanasi- Banaras is the oldest living city of the world and no wonder it has its own rich history and treasure of music.When and in what form music developed in this area, it is difficult to say. When Renu (son of Vishwamitra) and Mahagovind founded this city, they also brought with them the Aryan traditions and the Vedic culture. It can therefore, safely be coneluded that during the Vedic period SAMGAAN must have echoed everywhere. The presiding diety of this city is Shiva- Mahadeva, the lord of Dance and Music (Natraj). Naturally the city worshipped him with Taals, Songs and Dance. This city has been called the capital of all learning and the Goddess Saraswati must have played her Veena here. Pauranic tales describe the Apsaras, Gandharvas and Kinnars lived here and made the city musical.Jatak tales narrate the story of Veena competition in the "Sudershan" city. Ashwaghosh in his famous work "Sunnderanand" describes GANIKAS of kashi. During the Mahajanpada period we have a glimpse of Banarasi way of life full of Fairs and Fastivals with Music & Dancing. Guttal Jatak tells us that Kashi was the centre of Music and there was lot of Dancing and Singing in the temples.During the Goiden Age of Guptas, we find Kashi vibrating with the poems of great poets like Kalidas and with Dhruvagayan & Prabandh Sangeet.
The "Chatrurbhani" of the fifth century shows us a "Gayika"of Varanasi playing "Pichola" standing in a window in Ujjain. Excavations at Rajghat have given us a marvellous terracota wherein two musicians are playing percussion instruments with intense joy & pleasure.During the nineth century Damodar Bhatt in his famous work "Kuttanimattam" Faithfully describes the "Shringar Heat" of Kashi and tells us of Music and Drama during Sheo Puja Krishna Mishra in "Prabodh Chandrodaya" describes the "Rasiks" ( Music-lovers) of Varanasi. The 12th century scholar Hemchandra describes "Banarasipan". Jin- prabha Suri in his Vividh Teerth Kalpa "describes"MADAN VARANASI". "Vikrant Kauravam" is a drama written in the 14th century buy Hastimal and here we find a beautiful description of Banarasi Music.Fifteenth Century is the age of "Bhalci Movement" (Age of Devotion). Great saint Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Kashi and made the city "Kirtanmaya". Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya settled in Varanasi and the Vaishnava temples echoed with "Haveli Sangeet". Saints like Sur, Kabeer, Raidas, Meera, Tulsi made rich and valuable contributions to the Devotional Music and their Bhajans are still very popular. Ascetics of Banaras sing Nirgun Bhajans on Khanjari or Ektara.During this period music took a new turn and developed DHRUPAD GAYAKI. We have a galaxy of great Dhrupadias like Swami Haridas. Baijiu, Tansen, Gopal Nayak who made the country vibrate with there music. Dhrupad had four schools: Dagar Bani, Gobarhaar, Noharbani and Khanhaar Bani. And Banaras was a centre of this Dhrupad style.
Do you know Makrand pandey, father of great Tansen, breathed his last in Kashi?In the 16th century Govind Chandra ruled Varanasi and during his reign Dhrupad was the royal music. With Dhrupad came its associates- the Dhamar, Hori & Chaturang and they still are a speciality of Banarasi Music.This is the period when one ofthe great trios of Karnatak Msuic-Sri Muthuswami Dixitar lived here on the banks of Ganges for five years. Great writers of this are Ganapati in his "Madhvanal Kamkandha" and Damoodar in "Unkti Vyakti Prakaranam" give us a glimpse of music, Puppetry, Bhand plays. Similarly Banarasi Das in his "Aardh Kathanak" describes these very colourful music of Banaras.During this period Jaunpur a city adjacent to Kashi had a Musical King the "Sharki" and he gave us "Jaunpuri", "Hussaini Todi" Almost during this period Indian Music took another turn and "Khayal" became the latest style. Sadarang and Adarang gave new dimensions to Khayal "gayaki" with slow and rapid speed. RABAB and SURBAHAR were great instruments the day.While Nirgunias of Kashi sang the Famous Assarwari "Ghunghat ke pat Khol...", Nababs Awadh ruled Varanasi and the turbulent 18th century saw Meer Rustom Ali ruling Banaras as its Subedaar. Meer became a true Banarasi and patrnised Music Festivals like Jhoola, Jhoomar, Kajri, Birha, Dangal, Gulab Bari and Music Festivals on Boats. Soon a new Banarasi style emerged. Banaras bade tearful farewell to Meer and Raja Balwant Singh became Kashiraj. In his court we find great Kalawants like Jagraj Das, Khusal Khan and others.He was succeeded by Raja Chet Singh and his court honoured musicians. Budhwa Mangal received Royal patronage and Dulari, Kajjan, Kishori, Rukmini,Chittan sang on the waves of Ganges.In the court of Raja Maheep Narayan Singh, Tansen's sons Jivan Shah and Pyare Khan were appointed as the court singers. Next came Raja Udit Narayan Singh and during his reign Jahandar Shah ll- the Moghul prince came and stayed at Raja's palace in Shivala and in the retinue of Shah there were a number of Court Mussicians of Delhi.Nabab Asafudaula was a music-lover and he gave a new turu to "Besarageeti" and called it "Tappa". Now the great savant of Tappa was Shori Miya. His disciple Gammu Khan with his son Shade Khan came and settled in Banaras and gave a new form to Tappa called "Banarasi Tappa". Shade Khan's disciple Nagendra Nath Bhattacharya taught this Tappa style to two of his worthy students-Chitra and Imambardi and when they sang in Calcutta, Tappa became a craze of the country.Later in Kashiraj Darbar we find many musicians of Senia Gharana (of Tansen) like Zafar Khan, Basat Khan, Umrao Khan, Mohammed Ali and others.In Nineteenth century we see Kali Mirza Mahesh Chandra in the darbar of Maharaja Ishwari Prasad Narayan Singh. Thakurdayal Mishra, a disciple of Adarang-Sadarang, and his two sons Prasiddhu-Manohar called "Shrutidhars" won acclaim all over the country. They were the music teachers of the last Moghul King Bahadur Shah Zafar. Nineteenth century of Banaras had great musicians like Badku, Rasulbux, Manju Khan, Mithai Lal, Dargahilal and other. There was a pair nicknamed "Demons of Music" the great Shiva- Pashupati, who had no equal in the country.This century also saw a great galaxy of Gayikas Suggan, Maina, Tokhi, Gaffuran, Munna, Rajeshwari,Husna and others. Bhaiya Saheb Ganpatrao of Gwalior, great Harmonium player and Music Guru settled in Varanasi and his court we find Shyamlalji, Gauharjaan, Malka, and the phenomenal musician the doyen of Banarasi Thumri Moijuddin Khan and with him was the King of Banarasi Thumri Jagdeepji.In the present era Maharaj Prabhu Narayan Singh gave shelter to Bahadur Shah's court Musicians like Waris Ali, Akbar Ali, Nisar Khan, Sadiq Ali and great Ashiq Ali Khan. Ali Mohammad and Ali Bux the sons of Basat Khan were considered the "jewels" of Kashiraj Darbar.This galaxy of great musicians gave Banaras a place of pride in the country.
Banaras developed unique Banarasi Thumri, Dadra, Chaiti,, Hori, Bhairavi, Kajri, Tarana, Ghato and what not, There was now less known, Tirwat, Sadra, Khamsa, Lavni,, Chaturang,, Sargam, Ragmala, Kirtan, Qauwali, Kathagayan, Bhajan, Ramayan and Birth and all of these reigned supreme.Banaras has a very rich store of Folk Music like Bedesia, Pitma, Lachri, Badhaiya, Pujaiyao Geet, Fauwara, Gauri, Ghori, Nahchu, Alha, Sohar, Chandini, Nirwahi, Lachchan, Barahmasa, Maand, Sawani< Kajri etc. Before the Aryan settlement the local tribals must have had their own Music and some research scholar must peep into these foktunes and find out their indigenous character.Banaras not only sings, it plays also. Shehnai and its Maestro U. Bismillah Khan are now famous all over the world. "Tabla" has become "Banaras Baaz". Ram Sahai was a disciple of Maudu Khan,, the Tabla player in the court of Wazid Ali Shah. Later Ram Sahay ji developed his own style and this has now become the "Banaras Baaz". This school has produced great percussion masters like Bhairo Sahay, Janki Sahay, Bhairo Prasad, Maulvi Ram, Bachha Maharaj,, Suraj, Kanthe Maharaj, Biroo, Gama, Anokhelal, Samta prasad, Kishan Maharaj, Sharda Sahay, Ishwari prasad, Ramji, Chhotelal, Maisi and a host of others.Other percussion instruments are Pakhawaz and Mridangam and Banaras Masters have left their imprint on these instruments, Famous among these are Madan Mohan, Bhola Nath, Pathak, Mannuji, Amarnath Mishra,, Brindwan Das,, Ramdeo, Subodh Babu etc.Banaras is proud of its Harmonium players and famous among them were Ganpatraoji, Shyamlal, Biroo, Harendra, Ishwari Lal and others. Dhruvaji at present is the torch bearer of this tradition. Among the Flutist names of Shyamlal, Raghunath and Tarak Nath are famous. Banarasi Veena vaadaks like santu Babu and Lalmani Mishra are always remembered.Would you believe that famous Sitar Maestro Pandit' Ravi Shankar was born in Banaras. Ustad Mustaq Ali was also Banarasi. We remember Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan the great Sitar player in the days of yore. Jyotin Bhattacharya and Rajesh Moitra are Banarasi Sarod players. Dr. (mrs) N. Rajam is a rekniwned Violinist of Banaras.But one instrument which is truely Banarasi in nature is "Saarangi" We had great Sarangias like Sohnisiddh,, Tamakuji, Shambhu- Sumer, Birai Ganesh, Sursahai, Aashiq Ali, Munshi Ram, Siyaji, Pannalal, Gopal Mishra, Maulvi Mishra, Sarju and Baijnath. Hamuman ji, Narayan Vinayak and other still represent Banaras school of Sarangi.Though Banaras never had a Devdasi tradtion yet Gayikas on their own sang in the temples on special occasions.Present list of Vocalist is quite big and to name a few we have had Gayikas like Rasoolan,Vidyadhari,Badi motia, Siddheshwari,Girja Devi etc.We are proud of Jaikaranji,Akhoji,Bade Ram Das, Chhote Ram Das,Hari Shankar,Mahadeo,Rajan-Sajan and so many others.Banaras is called Mini India and artists from all over India have made it their home.In this list we have Pt.Omkar Nath Thakur,Rama ji and other from Gujrat,Pt.Vishnu Digambar,Bhaave Bua Hirlekar, Bhaiyaji Lande, Phadke, Kalwint, Belsare, Tambe, Patekar, Sapre, Damle and others from Maharashtra. Bengal gave us Aghor Chakravorty, Upendra Babu, Suren Ganguly, Hari Narayan, Rakhal Das, Santu Babu, Harendra Nath and others. There had been musicians from other provinces also.Dance is an integral part of Music. Banaras developed its own school of Kathak Dance. Here we had Jagdeepji, Ayodhya Prasad Babu Ram, Kalika Prasad brothers of great Kathak Maestro Binda Deen was known as "Banaras wale". Even our present maestro Birju Maharaj is related to Banaras. The main architect of Banaras school of Natwari Nritya was Sukhdeo Maharaj whose daughters and grand children Tara, Sitara, Alaknanda, Gopi Krishna, Mohan, Madhavi, Ram Krishna, Durgalal, Mala sisters have put Banaras in the Dance Map of Banaras. Do you know Natraj Uday Shankar belonged to Banaras? Similarly Bharat Natyam exponent Prof. C.V.Chandrashekhar has close association with Banaras.So this is in short a glimpse of Banarasi Music and its history. Even today the City boasts of its artists and also its elite learned listners. In the present day noisy, discordant, dishamonius, non-musical atmosphere the true Banarasi still drinks Gangajal and murmurs the famous Bhairavi.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS
BUDDHA PURNIMA - SARNATH -
This festival celebrates the birth of Lord Buddha with trditional religious fervour. 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.
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.
DHRUPAD MELA -
A five days music festival of Dhrupad is performed by renowned artistes at Tulsi Ghat. It is very popular among foreign tourists.
BHARAT MILAP (AT NATI IMLI) -
Celebreting Lord Ram's return to Ayodhya after 14th years of exile and his reunion with his brother Bharat, this festivel is held the day following Dussehra. Attended by the Kashi Naresh resplendent in regal finery, the festival attracts a large number of devotlees.
NAKKATAYYA (AT CHET GANG) -
Showing a story from Ramayan in which Surpanakha- the sister of Ravan- comes to entice Ram and then Lakshman. But Lakshman cuts her nose and she goes back crying. This act is enacted as a stage- play during mid oct. in the locality of Chetgung. Numerous processions and tableaux are also carried out on the occasion.
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.
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.
HANUMAN JAYANTI -
Jannotsav of Lord Hanuman is celebrated at Sankat Mochan Temple for five days with cultural & musical programmes by renowned artistes from all over India.
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.
Varanasi has, since times immemorial, been hailed as a premier centre for some of the finest handicrafts. The most renowned craft of the city is Silk weaving. 'Banarasi Sarees' produced by local craftsman are among the most preferred, not only in India but across the world. Brassware, copperware, ivory work , glass bangles, wood, stone and clay toys and exquisite gold jewellery are some of the other crafts the city is famous for. Bhadohi Carpets and musical instruments are among the other shopping attractions.
BANARASI SARI -
BANARASI SARI AND BROCADES
Banaras is one of the rich weaving craft centre of India, famous for Brocade saris and allover dress material. Exclusive varieties of the saris are Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tishu, and Butidar which are made of silk warp and silk weft, on plain/satian ground base, brocaded with extra weft patterns in different layouts introducing Buties, Bells, creepers, Buttas in ground, border and Anchal for getting glamours appearance. As in the History of the India Banaras is known since regveda about 1500 year 2000 year BC and also a period of Ramayana and Mahabharat come to know identical reference about the fame of Banarasi Sharee and Fabrics as known Hiranya Vastra (Putamber Vastra). In the ancient time Banaras was famous for the weaving of cotton saree and dress materials, but slowly switched over to silk weaving, during the Moghal period around 14th century weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold & Silver threads was the speciality of Banaras.
Brocade refer to those textiles where in patterns are created in weaving by transfixing or thrusting the pattern-thread between the warp. In regular weaving the weft thread passes over and under the warp thread regularly. But when brocade designs in gold, silver silk or cotton threads are to be woven, special threads are transfixed in between by skipping the passage of the regular weft over a certain number of warp threads (depending upon the pattern) and by regularising the skipping by means of pre-arranged heddles for each type of patterning. There may be several sets of heddles so arranged that on different occasions, they raise and depress irregular number of threads in turn, as required by the exigencies of the pattern. Zari-brocades-When gold and silver threads are use along with or without silk-threads, thrust either as special weft or warp to create glittering raised or-namentation. We have the Zari brocade kind of fabrics. When we talk of gold or silver threads. It is to be under stood that the gold,threads are actually only silver threads with gold polish and that these threads are obtained by closely winding extremely fine gold or silver wire around a silk thread. According to Sir George Watt, When the gold and silver threads were used so densely that the ground was hardly visible, the material was kinkhab proper and was too heavy for clothing, it was therefore used for trappings, hangings and furnishing. Only that material in which the Zari patterns were scattered was true brocade. This was used for clothing.
BANARAS SILK JAMDANI
The silk Jamdani, a technical variety of brocade or the 'figured muslin' ,traditionally woven in Banaras may be considered to be one of the finest products to come out of the Banarasi loom. Here silk fabric is brocaded with cotton and rarely with zari threads. jamdani is woven by transfixing the pattern thread between a varying number of warp threads in proportion to the size of the designed then throwing the shuttle to pass the regular weft. By repeating this process, where in the size and placing of the cut-thread is in accordance with the character of the pattern, the Jamdani weaver produces arrange of intricate designs. Some of the traditional motifs of Jamdani included Chameli (Jas mine), panna hazar (Thousand emeralds) genda buti (marigold flower)pan buti (leaf form) tircha (diagonally striped) etc. The most attractive design feature of the Jamdani sari was konia or a corner-motif having a floral mango buta. It has own special character of (URTU) Binding in the figured disignes on ground fabrics using extra weft designs thread dampatch technique for the or namentation of the sharee. It is silk x silk base fabrics or-namented with extra looking and technique of weaving in karhuwan.
Brocade weavers of Banares have often endeavoured to add a sense of gaiety and festivity by brocading patterns in colourful silk threads amidst the usual gold and silver motifs ;of the brocade convention. The present sari is an example in which muga silk motifs have been in laid. Jangala wildly scrolling and spreading vegetation motif is among the eldest in Banares brocades. This old rose sari is embellished with beautifully contrasted gold-creepers and silver flowers of the Jangala motif.The borders have brocaded running creepers in muga silk and gold and silver-Zari threds.The end panel is a combination of motifs of the borders and condensed Jangala of the field. Muga silk brocading in-hances the beauty of the sari while reducing the cost. All over Jal Jangla design to get the stylish work of the sarees and also used mena work for the decoration of the fabrics. The exclusive design saree has time taking skilled work, costly fabrics are widely accepted during the wedding occassion.
JAM WAR TANCHOI SARI
Using a technique similar to that of brocade, weavers of Banaras weave saris using colorful extraweft silk yarn for patterning . This varietyis known as tanchoi. This maroon-coloured sari in satin weave is brocaded with elaborate motifs from the Jamawar shawl tradition from Kashmir, the characteristic feature of which was paisley motif, often elaborated into a maze which would look kateidos-copic in character. The field has a densely spread minute diaper of Jamawar style paisley. The end panel has large motifs of multiple paisley forms-one growing out of the other. The border, as well as the cross-borders of the end panel, have miniature paisley creepers. Tanchoi fabric has remarkable fame in the India as well as all over in the world widely acceptable to all kind of the people.
The renowned Zari brocade weavers of Banaras has evolved a technique of weaving tissue material which looked like golden cloth. By running Zari in weft a combination of Zari and silk in extra-weft (pattern thread) and silk in warp, the weave of this sari has densely patterned with golden lotuses floating in a glimmering pond.The 'drops of water' are created by cut work technique. The borders and the end panel have a diaper of diamond patterns enclosed by a border of running paisley motifs. Tissue saris are most popular as wedding saris among the affluent. Tissue sari has glazed, shining character due to the use of real gold Zari/Silver Zari in weft on silk worp ground are ornamented with the particulars traditional design such as Jangla Butidar, Shikargah menadar etc.
This type of saree prepared by cut work technique on plain ground texture after removing of the floated thread which are not design (Woven) during the weaving process which provide good transparent look. Cut work is the cheaper version of the Jamdani variety. In cut work the ;pattern is made to run from selvage to selvage letting it hang loosely between two motifs and the extra-thread is then cut manually, giving the effect of Jamdani.
The most striking feature of this dark blue silken saree is that it is brocaded with pattern threads of gold, silver and silk. Due to darkar shade of gold and lighter of silver this variety of patterning in brocade is conventionally known as Ganga-Jamuna, indicating the confluence of these two river whose waters are believed to be dark and light receptively. The end panel has a row of arches, in each of which a bouquet of flowers is placed. A slightly smaller and variegated bouquet is diapered all over the field. The butidar saree is a rich kind of the Banaras Saree in high traditional pattern and motiff of the design locally popularised such as Angoor Bail, Gojar Bail, Luttar Bail, Khulta bail, Baluchar bail, Mehrab bail, Doller butti,Ashraffi Butti, Latiffa Butti, Reshem Butti Jhummar Butti,Jhari Butta, Kalma Butti,Patti Butti, Lichhi Butti, Latiffa Butta, Kairy Kalanga Thakka Anchal, Mehrab Anchal, Baluchar Butta with the use of real gold and silver Jari and Katan silk in the weft.
Jal Tirth Yatra 1th Tirth Yatra 2th Tirth Yatra 3th Tirth Yatra 4th Tirth Yatra 5th Tirth Yatra 6th Tirth Yatra
Shivayatan Yatra 1th Shivayatan Yatra 2th Shivayatan Yatra 3th Shivayatan Yatra 4th Shivayatan Yatra 5th Shivayatan Yatra 6th Shivayatan Yatra 8th Shivayatan Yatra 11th Shivayatan Yatra 14th Shivayatan Yatra
Anta Grihi Yatra Vishweshwar Yatra Kedareshwar Yatra Omkareshwar Yatra 12th Jyotirlinga Yatra
YOGA, AYURVEDA,MEDITATION & ASTROLOGY
There are separate faculty of Yoga, Ayurveda, Meditation & Strology in B.H.U. & S.S.U. . Varanasi is the centre for Yoga, Ayurveda, Meditation & Strology. Following are main centre for Yoga, Meditation & Strology.
S.S.U. Gayan Pravah Kashi Yoga Sangh Sankat Mochan International Yoga & Meditation Centre Nagawa B.H.U.
Man Mandir Bhring Sanhita Kendra Bhadaini Centre For Yoga & Meditation Nirala Nagar Prangya Yoga Institute JagatGanj
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.
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.
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. ASRI KASHI VISHWA NATH TEMPLE 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.
The Temple opens daily at 2.30a.m. in Mangala Aarati 3 to 4 a.m. ticket holders are permitted to join. From 4 to 11 a.m. general Darshan is allowed. 11.30 to 12 a.m. mid day Bhog Aarati is done. Again 12 noon to 7 p.m. devotees are free to have darshan. From 7 to 8.30 p.m. evening Sapta Rishi Aarati is done after which darshan is again possible uptill 9 p.m. when Shringar/Bhog Aarati starts. After 9 p.m. Darshan from out side only is possible. Shayana Aarti starts at 10.30p.m.The Temple closes at 11p.m. Most of the Prasad,milk,clothes and other such offerings are given to the poors.
BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY - Banaras Hindu University (B.H.U) founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya in 1917A.D is the largest residential University in India. At the entrance, there is the grand statue of its founder and the Vishwanath temple in its centre. The huge temple was built in 1966, under patronage of the Birlas. It has a 677 meter high rising white top and its well carved architecture attracts pilgrims.
BHARAT KALA BHAWAN (ART MUSEUM) - In the cool and calm surroundings of B.H.U is the Bharat Kala Bhavan which has established in 1920A.D and has a vast collection of paintings, Hindu and Buddhist sculptures and other materials of archeological studies. In the main hall of the Bhawan, there is a figure of a man standing on one leg and one hand on his hip and lifting a mass of stone above his head, with one hand. The figure is said to be of Lord Krishna lifting Govardana. In the halls of the Bharat Kala Bhawan, there are many rare images that testify to the existence of Krishna cult in Kashi in 15th and 16th century Gupta period. It has the miniature paintings from the courts of Mughals and the Hindu Princes of Punjab Hills. Visit : Monday to Saturday . Opens from 1030 to 1600.
RIVER FRONT (GHATS) - The spectacular 4 km sweep of the Ghats is unique sight, best viewed at dawn, in that "soft first light" when the river and Ghats have a timeless appeal. Life is almost panoramic detail unfolds here from dawn to dusk as a steady stream of devotees-swelling to thousands on auspicious days –perform rituals by the Ganga. The Ghats are best approached by Dashashwamedha ghat, where boats are available on hire.
DURGA TEMPLE - Godess durga is considered as the goddess of Strength and Power. This temple was built in the 18th century with red stone work. A fine example of Nagara art. This temple falls on the main route from Railway Station to BHU, just before Tulsi Manas temple and Sankatmochan temple.
TULSI MANAS TEMPLE - Tulsi Manas Mandir 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. SANKATMOCHAN TEMPLE Lord Hanuman temple, who is known to be the 'Sankatmochak' is just 300 meters from Tulsi Manas Temple. It is an ancient temple considered as built by Goswami Tulsidas himself.
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.
MAHATMA GANDHI KASHI VIDYAPEETH - Kashi Vidyapeeth was set up in 1920 by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta to provide alternate education arrangement discarding that of the British. It soon became a centre of natoinal education with Hindi as the medium of instruction. Acharya Narendradev, Babu Sampurnanand, Babu Sriprakash & many more Luminaries of the time have been associated with this institute.>MUSUEMS & ARTS GALLERIES Archaeological musuem Sarnath open 09:30 am.- 5 pm. Friday clossed. Ramnager fort musuem, open 10 am.-5 pm. Clossed on Friday. Bharat Kala Bhawan B.H.U. open 10:30 am.- 4 pm. Clossed on Sundays & university holidays. Archaeological musuem, Sampurnanand Sanskrit University open 10 am. – 5 pm. Clossed on Sunday & university holidays.
BHARAT MATA TEMPLE - This Temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936 and houses one perfect relief Map 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. It is inside the premises of Kashi Vidyapeeth.
ASHOKA PILLAR - Ashoka Piller-Sarnath It is at Saranath, 10km north of Varanasi. Sarnath, the place where Buddha gave his first sermon is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage centre. The Ashoka pillar stands in front of the main stupa where Ashoka sat and meditated. The Sarnath Archaeological Museum at Ashoka Marg, houses a copy of Ashoka's lion pillar and some sculptures.
RAMNAGAR FORT - The residential place of Kashi Naresh (Former Maharaja of Varanasi) across the Ganges at Ramnagar houses a museum with the exhibits of palanquins, costumes, swords, sabres, etc. Dussehra celebration of Ramnagar is an interesting event to witness.14 km. from Varanasi. The fort at Ramnagar houses a museum displaying the Royal collection which includes vintage cars, Royal palkies, an armoury of swords and old guns, ivory work and antique clock. The Durga Temple and Chhinnamastika Temple are also located at Ramnagar. Ramnagar Fort which was built in 1750A.D by the Maharaja of Banaras, is on the right bank of River Ganga. Built of red stones, it provides strength and stability to the city. Visit : Daily from 0900 t0 1200 and 1400 - 1500. It is the residential palace of the former Maharaja of Varanasi. The palace is an astronomical and astrological wonder. Inside the giant walls of the palace, there is a big clock. Besides showing year, month, week and day, it baffles the onlooker with astronomy of the sun, moon and constellation of stars. This wonder clock or Dharam Ghari was made by the court astronomer of Banaras in 1852A.D. The palace has a temple dedicated to Ved Vyas and a museum set up by the last Maharaja of Banaras, Vibhuti Narain Singh. The museum has a collection of brocade costumes, palanquins, weapons and has expensive coaches made of ivory. The palace is decorated majestically and it vibrates with colour and life, during Dussehra festival. The celebrations comes to an end on Vijayadashmi, when the huge effigies of demon king Ravana and his kinsmen are sent up in flames, signifying the victory of good over evil.
ALAMGIR MOSQUE - An amalgmation of Hindu-Muslim religious sentiments, this mosque is also known as " Beni Madhav ka Darera". Curiously, the entire lower portion of the mosque is retained as a Hindu temple.
CENTRAL INSTITUTE OF HIGHER TIBETAN STUDIES - The only institute of its kind in the world, , imprating education in the Tibetan language, it was Est. by the Dalai Lama in 1971. Presently located at Sarnath.The institute has a rare collection of Buddhist texts, Tibetan manuscripts and other journals.
JANTAR MANTAR - Jantar Mantar is an observatory, built by Jai Singh, the Maharaja of Jaipur in the year 1737. Jai Singh was a great admirer of science and technology and he was particularly passionate about astronomy. Before the commencement of construction (of observatories) he sent scholars abroad to study the foreign observatories. The emissaries returned with many manuals on astronomy. The Jantar Mantar at Varanasi was built in line with Delhi, Mathura, Ujjain and Jaipur observatories.
The Jantar Mantar was built to measure the local time, the Sun's declination, altitude, the declination of stars, planets and to determine eclipses The Jantar Mantar at Varanasi has several masonry instruments to record the motion, speed and properties starts and planets and study astronomy that are accurate and can still be used efficiently today. The Jantar Mantar incorporates multiple structures of unique form, each with a specialized function for astronomical measurement.
These structures with their striking combinations of geometric forms have captivated the attention of architects, artists, and art historians. Originally, there were many yantras (instruments). Some of the important ones are the Krantivritta Yantra, Digansha Yantra, Samrat Yantra, Prakash Yantra, Ram Yantra, Disha Yantra and Dhruva Yantra
JAIN TEMPLE - Jain temple The Famous Jain Saint Shvetambar temple is there juust on the way from Railway Station to BHU, before Bhelupur street.
Lal Bahadur Shastri
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya
Dr. Bhagwan Das (Bharat Ratna)
Jai Shanker Prasad
Munshi Prem Chandra
Acharya Pandit Ramchandra Shukla
Dr. Hajari Prasad Drivedi
MUSIC & DANCE
Pandit Gudai Maharaj
Pandit Hanuman Prasad Mishra
Pandit Mahadev Mishra
Bismilla Khan (Bharat Ratna)
Pandit Birju Maharaj
Pandit Kishan Maharaj
Smt. Girja Devi
Smt. Sitara Devi
Smt. N. Rajan
Pandit Vikas Maharaj
Pandit Channulal Mishra
SAINT AND MAHATMA
Bhagwan Avadhut Ram
Swami Karpatri Ji
Bihar became the first state in India to have separate web page for every city and village in the state on its website www.brandbihar.com (Now www.brandbharat.com)
See the record in Limca Book of Records 2012 on Page No. 217