A Spiritual Odyssey: Must-Visit Temples In Varanasi

Embark on a divine journey through Varanasi's temples, where ancient devotion meets architectural splendor
Temples in Varanasi
Temples in VaranasiShutterstock

Varanasi, with its alternative names Kashi or Banaras, proudly boasts its status as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities. It's not just a city; it's a spiritual powerhouse, resonating with devotion in every corner. Here, ancient rituals dance alongside modern life. Amidst the hustle and bustle, the temples of Varanasi stand tall, not just as architectural wonders but as sanctuaries of peace where the weary soul finds solace and enlightenment. For those seeking a taste of the city's spiritual fervour, here are five temples in Varanasi that demand a visit.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Situated on the bank of the holy river Ganges, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of Varanasi. This sacred shrine is one of India's most revered and visited temples. The present structure was built by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in 1780, although the site has been a place of worship for thousands of years. The temple's golden spire glitters in the sunlight, attracting devotees and tourists alike. Inside the complex, the main deity, Lord Vishwanath (another name for Shiva), is enshrined in a sanctum adorned with ancient scriptures.

Temples in Varanasi
Temples in VaranasiShutterstock

Durga Temple (Monkey Temple)

Nestled in the bustling heart of Varanasi's ancient quarter lies the Durga Temple, paying homage to Goddess Durga, the epitome of feminine strength and vitality. This temple, affectionately dubbed the Monkey Temple, attracts visitors with its striking crimson hue and the playful antics of its numerous resident monkeys. Dating back to the 18th century, the temple owes its existence to the vision of Bengali Queen Rani Bhabhani.

Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple

Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the Sankat Mochan Temple is one of the holiest shrines in Varanasi, believed to fulfil the wishes of its devotees and alleviate their troubles (Sangkat). Legend has it that the temple was established by the revered saint Tulsidas, the author of the epic Ramcharitmanas. The temple's soothing ambience offers a respite from the chaos of the city. 

Morning aarti at a ghat in Varanasi
Morning aarti at a ghat in VaranasiShutterstock

Sarnath Temple

Though situated just beyond Varanasi's city limits, Sarnath holds immense importance as a pilgrimage destination, mere kilometers away. This hallowed ground witnessed a pivotal moment in history when Lord Buddha delivered his inaugural sermon post-enlightenment, rendering it a revered site for Buddhists worldwide. Dominating the landscape is the Dhamek Stupa, an imposing cylindrical edifice erected in the 5th century BCE, marking the very spot where Buddha disseminated his teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Adjacent to this sacred structure stands the Mulagandhakuti Vihara, a serene Buddhist temple commissioned by Emperor Ashoka, further enriching the spiritual tapestry of Sarnath.

Tulsi Manas Temple

Built in 1964, the Tulsi Manas Temple is a tribute to Lord Rama and is named after the sage Tulsidas, who wrote the Ramcharitmanas. This modern temple is located near the Durga Temple and is renowned for its exquisite white marble architecture. The walls of the temple are decoratedd with verses and illustrations from the Ramcharitmanas, depicting scenes from the epic in vivid detail. 

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