Why is Varanasi important
Articles from the "Current" section | VisumAntrag.de | 04/09/2021 | ± 5 minutes reading time
Many see Varanasi as the holiest city in India. Read here what makes this city so popular. Also apply in good time for the India visa required to visit Varanasi.
The river Ganges
The Ganges is a river approximately 2,500 kilometers long that flows through both India and Bangladesh. The river has its source in the western Himalayas and flows into the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges is best known for being the holiest river for Hindus. Millions of Indians live on the banks of the river. The river is therefore not only of religious significance, but is also the basis for the daily existence of many Indians, whose income depends on the river.
Pilgrims from all over India come to the river for religious ceremonies. In Hinduism, it is believed that the holy water of the river has a purifying effect. That is why you can see many Hindus in Varanasi washing themselves in the river. They do this not to remove dirt, but to spiritually purify the soul. Hindus also believe that the river is a direct path to the afterlife. As a result, you can often see the bodies of the deceased floating in the Ganges. Usually the deceased are cremated first and then their ashes are thrown into the river, but when cremation is not possible, for example for financial reasons, the whole body is often put in the river.
A word you will often hear when talking about Varanasi and the Ganges is "Ghat". The Ghats are stairs that lead from the banks of the Ganges to the river itself. There are so many Ghats in Varanasi, which have different functions. One of the oldest is Bhadaini Ghat and one of the most famous is Panchganga Ghat. The ghats in which the deceased are cremated are called "burning ghats". For many tourists this is an emotional and impressive experience, but for Hindus it is an important religious ceremony. One of the best ways that Ghats can be admired from a boat on the Ganges.
The holy city of Varanasi
On the main arm of the Ganges there are many cities and therefore also many sights. The largest and most famous city on this sacred river is Varanasi, often also called Benares. Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in India. According to Hindu mythology, Varanasi was built by the god Shiva. Because of this direct connection to Shiva, one of the most important gods in Hinduism, Varanasi is considered the holiest city in Hinduism.
The population of Varanasi is very diverse and a visit to this city is unforgettable for many travelers. Since the India visa is allowed to enter via Varanasi Airport, you can visit this holy city without any problems once you have the visa.
Not only is the city the holiest city for the Hindus, the cuisine of Varanasi is famous throughout India. Try for example Chat, a hearty snack made from fried dough in different variations. Varanasi would have the best too samosas Find India. When visiting Varanasi, be sure to check out the traditional yogurt drink Lassi try. This is available in both sweet and salty flavors.
Although Varanasi is a holy city, it will often seem chaotic to travelers, with shouting shopkeepers on every corner and the crowded Ghats. For many people, however, that makes up part of the charm that this city has.
People who love luxury will also get their money's worth in Varanasi. In the center of town, above the steps of the Darbhanga Ghat, you will find the five star hotel Brijrama Palace. This 18th century building was converted into a hotel in 1994. The hotel is a prime example of how a modern and comfortable hotel can be realized in the existing, old architecture.
In the evening there are often events in Varanasi, such as the Ganga Aarti. A Aarti is a religious ceremony in which fire plays an important role. As the name suggests, this is Ganga Aarti a ritual in honor of the goddess Ganga, after whom the river is named. During this ceremony you will be Diyas, small bowls with a candle and flowers, set in the Ganges. Often there are so many Diyasthat the flow through the candles becomes a real light show. You shouldn't miss this ritual when visiting Varanasi.
Useful tip: apply for a visa
Varanasi is one of the most impressive places in India, but here in particular it is important to prepare your trip well. You should take into account that there are many scammers out there in Varanasi. The city is very popular for the high quality fabrics that can be found there, but there are also vendors who take advantage of this. These shopkeepers try to sell counterfeit silk or other fabrics to tourists for high prices. You should also be careful around the "burning ghats" Ghats Scammers regularly beg for money to buy wood for the cremations, often asking for much more than the real price. In these cases, the best way to go is to walk away without answering.
Another important preparation for visiting Varanasi is applying for the correct India visa. The online visa for India comes in three forms: the eTourist visa, the eMedical visa, and the eBusiness visa. The eTourist visa allows you to stay in India for up to 90 consecutive days. The visa is valid for 365 days and can be used for multiple trips to India. With the e-Visa India you can enter at Varanasi airport, among other places. Within the maximum stay of 90 days you can also visit other cities along the Ganges, such as Rishikesh, one of the most important yoga cities in India.
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