Looking for best places to visit in Varanasi and Khajuraho? Benaras or Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”- Mark Twain wrote in one of his Travelogues on Asia. As one of the most widely loved and celebrated American writers since his first books were released in the late 1860s, his word remained the guiding force for many a trips to India by early American travellers. He also wrote “So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.”
It has long been established that Varanasi or Banaras is one of the oldest cities in the world and its presence was marked in time same as the Historic Thebes and Babylon. Populated for over 3000years this city has captured many a imaginations and held many in awe over the centuries. In his book Following the Equator, Mark Twain wrote: “The Ganga (Ganges) front is the supreme showplace of Benares. Its tall bluffs are solidly caked from water to summit, along a stretch of three miles, with a splendid jumble of massive and picturesque masonry, a bewildering and beautiful confusion of stone platforms, temples, stair flights, rich and stately palaces….soaring stairways, sculptured temples, majestic palaces, softening away into the distances; and there is movement, motion, human life everywhere, and brilliantly costumed – streaming in rainbows up and down the lofty stairways, and massed in metaphorical gardens on the mile of great platforms at the river’s edge.”
Coming to best places to visit in Varanasi, truly the riverfront and the Ghats of Varanasi are where the life and all the action of Benares is. This is where the tourists and locals all congregate for the Ganga Aarti. Though the junior Brahmins and astrologers are to be found everywhere in this religious capital of India, it is at the Ghats where they are in most abundance. However, this should not be misconstrued as a sign of total materialism and misgiving that content of age-old wisdom too had been commercialized. The true believers have been finding the right source for their further learning in life somewhere along the Ghats and lanes and bazaars of this city which is also called ‘Kashi’. This is what has kept this city prosperous. In and around this crowded but mystical city lie the important Hindu temples of Kashi Vishwanath(Lord Shiva), SankatMochan Hanuman(The monkey-god, an incarnation of Lord Shiva) and the Bhairav(yet another incarnation of Lord Shiva, the Lord of Lords). A short distance away from the city, are the famous Buddhist ‘Stupas’ of Sarnath. Visitors have also shown a liking to visit the ‘Bharat Mata Mandir’, the Birla Mandir, The Benares Hindu University campus, the Ram Nagar Fort Museum and the Gothic English Cemetery. Some also like to see the last–rites of Hindus at the 24hours ManiKarnika burning Ghat. It is firm Hindu belief that getting cremated in Kashi rids one from any sins and frees the departed soul from the cycle of rebirth.
The enigma that is Khajuraho!
From Varanasi one can take a long bus or a train ride to reach Khajuraho or take a short flight. Arrive any which way but once there all get wonderstruck by the sheer boldness of the sculptors who have reproduced sexual scenes and human anatomy in the most graphical representation. What further confuses the visitor is the fact that the area is / was so much away from any human settlement and in those times the middle of a dense forest. Though there have been findings of pre-historic origin from there; the cluster of temples was built between 900AD and 1150AD. Believed to be around 85 temples in those times, today about 25 magnificent structures can be found in an area of approx. 9square kilometres. Some temples still have the original deity inside and one really is forced to wonder the logic behind such explicit representation of natural and un-natural sexual acts on the outside walls of such temples. Most of the temples have intact main structures but the deities and any images of Hindu gods and goddesses were broken or defaced by muslim invaders. As mentioned earlier, many sexually explicit sculptures were left intact?? Is there a co-relation there? Tired of repeated attacks the citizens of Khajuraho escaped the area and the area was lost to the jungle between the 13 and the 18th century. The area was re-discovered by British engineer T. S. Burt.
You can add to this wonderful trip a picnic to the Pandava Waterfalls which are approx. 12 kilometres out of Khajuraho. Now that you know about the best places to visit in Varanasi and Khajuraho, time permitting, you can add another destination to this trip.
The Wild-life Safari in Madhya Pradesh
For those wanting to extend this journey further in Madhya Pradesh with the objective of a Safari in one or all of the Sanctuaries Khajuraho is an ideal exit point to Panna. Travelshanti has some of the best properties and team of professionals to offer you for your Safari experience. We can actually facilitate your stay in absolute Luxury, if you so desire.
Tour packages for Varanasi & Khajuraho