Hidden Gems in Varanasi
Being one of the continuously inhabited cities in the world, Varanasi is a gem in itself. Over the ravages of ages, it has gone through the onslaught of nature, man, and science but has been standing proudly manifesting the untold stories of ancient eras. The city is so deep-rooted in history, culture, and spirituality that the more you’ll explore it, the more you’ll crave for it. And the fascinating thing is that it will intrigue you every time. No matter how many times you have visited the city, it will leave you awestruck every single time with its hidden and never-before-seen treasure trove. So today, let’s take a walk through the hidden gems of one of the holiest cities of India
Vajra Vidhya Sarnath
Sarnath is solely a Buddhist pilgrimage, so here you’ll see monasteries here and there soaked in the tranquility of Buddhism. But if you want to witness Buddhist teachings, spirituality, artifacts and architectural styles all in one place, visit Vajra Vidhya Sansthan Temple. It is actually a monastic institute which looks like a royal palace from outside but within itself, it has satiated the essence of Buddhism. It was founded in 1993 under the supervision of a Buddhist monk named Thrangu Tulku Rinpoche and took 6 years to get completed. Since then, it has been one of the highest philosophy-learning centers of Buddhists
Forget about learning, if you have even touched Hindi literature, Saint Kabir wouldn’t be a new name for you. Hailed as one of the prolific Hindi poets as well as saints of the country during the 15th century, saint Kabir spent his entire life from an infant child to an oldie in Varanasi. Today, the place where we see a spectacular temple is believed to be exactly the same place where Kabir was found by his adoptive parents in a lotus flower. 3km from The Varanasi railway station, Kabir Math is exactly located at Lehartara. From Kabir’s 600-year-old hut to the several meticulous sculptures, from the handlooms weaved by himself to his personal belongings, from a small library filled with his works to an awe-inspiring garden dotted with his reminiscences, and from his meditation place to the lecture hall, Kabir Math is no less than a museum that showcases all the artifacts associated with saint Kabir.
In the city of temples, Gurudhaam Temple has its own glory and significance. Be it the architectural style or the facts associated with the temple, Gurudhaam Mandir leaves the visitors intriguing. It is not an ordinary temple rather it is said to be a Tantrik Mandir where once the practice of achieving God through the spirituality used to conducted. Located in Durgakund area of Varanasi, the temple was built in 1814 by Maharaja Jaya Narayan Ghoshal. At that time, it was the most revered temple of Tantra practices. Even today, the temple is believed to have treasured many mysteries within itself. Constructed in an octagonal shape, the temple is a three-storied edifice consisting of 8 gateways and courtyards. Over the course of time, the temple was neglected but recently, it has grabbed the attention of government and the renovation has been started.
Don’t go by the name. Kashi is the abode of Lord Shiva, so who else can be the presiding deity here. The temple is named ‘Nepali Temple’ because it was built by a Napali King Rana Bahadur Shah during the 18th century. He laid the foundation but the temple was actually completed by his son Girvan Yuddha Bikra Shah Deva nearly 20 years later. The king wanted to build the replica of Pashupatinath Temple of Kathmandu, so the structural design of Nepali Temple is ideally shaped in Nepali architectural style. The interesting thing is that the stellar temple is primarily made out of wood, still, it has withstood unfalteringly against the test of time. Located in Lalita Ghat, the temple is sometimes also called as ‘Mini Khajuraho’ and ‘Kanthwala Temple’.
With the name, you must have assumed whom this place is dedicated for. Built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb himself during the 17th century, it is his own mausoleum. The history of Alamgir Mosque is a testimony to the dark days of Varanasi. Alamgir Mosque is said to be exactly on the place where earlier a temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, was built. That temple was built by a Maratha chief Beni Madhur Rao Scindia but just after the completion, Kashi was conquered by Aurangzeb. Next, what would have happened, you know that. He entirely demolished the temple and built a mosque on his own name. Like other Mughal monuments, the mosque is a fusion of Hindu and Islamic architectural style. Located at Panchganga Ghat, Alamgir mosque overlooks the majestic waves of Ganga
Varanasi is one such melting pot where different beliefs sparkle together. Apart from being a Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain pilgrimage, the city is also high revered among the Sikhs and the reason being Gurubagh Gurudwara of Varanasi. Gurubagh Gurudwara accounts the history of 16th century. In February 1507, Sikh Guru Nanak Dev visited Varanasi. Later during the 19th century, Gurubagh Gurudwara was constructed to commemorate the visit of Guru Nanak. It was inaugurated on 23 November 1969 on the auspicious occasion of the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. Since then, it has been a prominent pilgrimage for Sikhs. It daily receives a huge influx of devotees. The architectural style of Gurubagh Gurudwara is like all other Gurudwaras.
Digambara Jain Temple, Bhelupur
After Sikh, now visit this Jain temple. Dedicated to Lord Parshwanath, the 23rd Tirthankara, Digambara Parshwanath Jain Temple is a prominent pilgrimage among the Jains. Bhelupur is deeply associated with the Lord Parshwanath. He is believed to be born here. He also completed his education and meditation here. Built in yellowish brown color, Digambara Jain Temple is one of the finest illustrations of Jain architecture in India. The temple houses a 75cm-tall back statue of Lord Parshwanath which is depicted in the meditated position. The walls of the temple are adorned with the various intricate sculptures of Lord Parshwanath and others. If you want to escape from the bustling busy and narrow streets of Varanasi, Digambara Jain temple is a heaven for you. There is always a heavenly calmness that can impart a positive vibe to youibus leo.
Lolark Khund is actually a step well where the couple who craves for a child, takes a dip and seeks the blessing of Lord Shiva. According to the beliefs, whosoever takes a bath and performs all rituals with a full heart in Lolark Khund on the 6 th day of the bright moon of Bhadrapada, gets fulfilled his/her desire of a child.
Man Mahal Observatory
Have you ever been to Rajasthan? If not, you can get a glimpse of the inexpressible splendidness of Rajasthani royal palaces in Man Mahal Observatory. Built by Raja Sawai Singh II of Jaipur in 1710, Man Mahal Observatory is the finest epitome of embellished architecture in Varanasi.
Moti Jheel of Varanasi often goes unnoticed by the visitors because it is small place and outsiders are not aware of the significance of the place. The central attraction of Moti Jheel is a half-body statue of a giant crocodile that is said to have been hanged in the wall of Moti Jheel Haveli for last 90 years.
Though every nook and corner of Varanasi is flecked with the glorious and historical gems, in front of the majestic waves of River Ganga, never-ending lanes of saints, and the inexpressible divinity of Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the other tourist spots of Varanasi are often overlooked by the visitors. So, on your next visit, you don’t miss the chance to explore these hidden gems of Varanasi.