Tourist Places in Uttar Pradesh – Varanasi

 Varanasi has een a centre of learning for several centuries, and the Benares Hindu University is one of its leading educational institutions, funded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya n 916, the aim of the institution was to mPart education in Indian art, music, culture and philosophy and promote the study of Sanskrit. It now offers courses in just about every subject and accommodates foreign students also. The Bharat Kala Bhavan inside the campus is an expansive museum which has an excellent collection of miniature paintings as well as 12th century palm-leaf manuscripts and sculptures.

Ramnagar Fort & Museum: It is the  erstwhile home of the maharaja of Banaras. The Fort and Museum dating back to the 17th century is a must-see in Varanasi, despite its crumbling state. It is about 14 km from Varanasi and is situated on the opposite bank of the Ganga. The Ramnagar fort has a temple and a museum within its precincts and the temple is dedicated to Ved Vyasa, who wrote Mahabharata, the great Indian epic.

The Ramnagar fort museum has a good collection of Royal vintage Cars, Royal palkies, an armoury of swords and old guns, ivory work and antique clocks. Inside the giant walls of the Ramnagar fort-palace, there is a big clock. Apart from time (with year, month, week and day also), the clock also displays astronomical facts about the sun, moon and the constellations.

■ AROUND VARANASI Sarnath: After attaining enlightenment in Bodhgaya, Buddha came to Sarnath, 10 km northeast of Varanasi

. He gave his first sermon here. Ashoka erected stunning stupas and monasteries here during the 3rd century BC. The grand stupa adorned by four lions, incidentally become the national emblem of India. Chinese traveller Yuan Tsang’s travel accounts (AD 640) reveal that Sarnath boasted of a 100 meter-high stupa and 1500 monks living in large monasteries. However, with the decline of Buddhism, Muslim invaders decimated the city and Sarnath was abandoned and disappeared altogether. It was rediscovered by British archaeologists around 1835 and thus Sarnath regained some of its past glory.

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Singhpur, a village just 1 km from the site, was the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the eleventh Jain Tirthankar of the present age (Avasarpini), and a temple dedicated to him, isan importantJain pilgrimage.

Chunar Fort: Located 40 km from Varanasi, the Chunar Fort offers a splendid view of the Ganga. This fort had witnessed many bloody battles and particularly the battle of Sher Shah Suri, when he challenged the might of the Mughal empire. An ancient well and a sun clock are the other attractions of this fort. Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary: This sanctuary is situated in the forests of Chandra Prabha, which is about 70 km from Varanasi.

This is a must-see destination for nature lovers as it also houses the captivating Rajdari and Devdari waterfalls. Contrary to popular belief, this sanctuary attracts considerable numbers of tourists every season. The highlights of the sanctuary are the chinkara and panther. You can also spot a number of black bucks, chital, sambar, nilgai, wild boar, porcupine and Indian gazelle apart from a whopping 150 odd bird species. Alligators and pythons can also be spotted at many places.

Tourist information

India Tourism Office, The Mall, Varanasi. Ph: 2226378

UP Tourism Office, Varanasi Railway Junction. Ph: 2506670

Mathura

Mathura, the legendary birthplace of Lord Krishna, is also referred to as ‘Braj Bhoomi,’ meaning the Land of Eternal Love. Mathura was once a well known Buddhist centre until the 8th century, when Buddhism began to give way to Hinduism. Mathura, 58 km northwest of Agra, is known for its salubrious climate and lush terrains laced by the Yamuna.

Krishna Janmashtami (Lord Krishna birthday) is a world famous festival in India. Mathura is the birthplace of Krishna. Although his birthday is celebrated throughout the country, it is something special at Mathura and Vrindavan, where the Lord spent his childhood. The modern-day, Mathura is a religious centre dotted with Hindu temples which draws many pilgrims, especially during Janmashtami in August/September.

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How to get there A good network of State and National Highways connect Mathura with all major cities. Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation plies several buses to neighbouring cities like Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Delhi and Jaipur. Mathura lies on the main lines of both the Central as well as Western Railways. There are many express and superfast trains to and from Mathura, and connects it with the rest of the country. The nearest airport from Mathura is at Kheria in Agra. It is just 60 kilometers from the city center of Mathura. Most of the private and public carriers operate regular services connecting Mathura with major cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

§K Places of interest

Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi: The most important landmark in Mathura is Sri Krishna Janma Bhoomi. A small temple stands there  with a slab of rock on which Krishna is said to have been born 3500 years ago. Articles excavated in and around the site bare testimony to the legendary story of Sri Krishna’a birth. These artifacts are displayed in a museum near the main temple. This temple, in particular, suffered maximum damages from Muslim invaders. The present temple dates back to the 10th century. The large number of pilgrims, queuing up for several hours for a darshan of Lord Krishna, attest to its religious importance.

Jama Masjid: Mathura isfamousfortemples, monuments and museums. And the Jama Masjid in Mathura is something beyond comparison. It is located in the vicinity of the very popular and attractive Janma Bhoomi temple complex. The Masjid, built in 1661, exhibits a majestic look with its elaborate decorations and ornately designed four minarets. To state ironically, the imposing structure of the Jama Masjid creates an indelible impression on the mind.

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Vishram Ghat: The Vishram Ghat is dotted with many attractive temples and some of Mathura’s most significant shrines – the Mukut Temple, Radha-Damodar, Murli Manohar, Neelkantheshwar, Yamuna- Krishna, Langali Hanuman and Narasimha temples – are here. The baithak of the famous Vaishnava Saint, Shri Chaitanya, is also near by. The aarti held at the Vishram Ghat each evening is not to be missed, when devotees lit oil lamps and make it float on the water. Taking a glimpse of thousands of devotees praying with devotion is a captivating sight. Vishram Ghat is a popular pilgrim centre where the traditional parikrama combining all the chief religious and cultural places of the city starts and ends. It has 12 Ghats to its north and 11 Ghats to its south.

Kans Fort: The fort owes its name to the legendary King Kamsa of Mathura, who was the maternal uncle of Lord Sri Krishna. Although in ruins, the fort is still impressive. Built by Raja Mansingh of Jaipur, the fort is located very near to the Yamuna River. Later, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh constructed an observatory in this fort.

Dwarkadish Temple: Built by Seth Gokul Das Parikh, the Temple’s history can be traced back to 1814. Located in the eastern part of Mathura, the Dwarkadish temple is the most revered temple not only in Mathura but in the whole of India. Consecrated to Lord Krishna, the Dwarkadish Temple boasts of a magnificent architectural style and fascinating images of his beloved Radha and other Hindu deities.

The elements of indigenous art and aesthetics are clearly perceptible in the architecture of the temple. One of the very interesting features of this temple is carving and paintings. Built in 1814, this temple is run and managed by the followers of the Vallabhacharya sect.

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