Pilgrims on the Ganges River, Banaras, India

by Sacred Sites Places of Peace and Power

Banaras is the most visited pilgrimage destination in all of India. One of the seven Holy Cities, one of the twelve Jyotir Linga sites and also a Shakti Pitha site, it is the most favored place for Hindus to die and be cremated. Myths and hymns speak of the waters of the Ganges River as the fluid medium of Shiva's divine essence and a bath in the river is believed to wash away all of one's sins

In recent years the Ganges River has drawn attention for its ungodly level of pollution. But the bathers are immune to all this. Nearly 2.5 million of them come each year to Banaras, this holiest of cities, on the banks of the most sacred of Indian rivers.

 According to Hindu legend, Lord Shiva unleashed the Ganges from the knot of his hair. For centuries, its rich floods lent fertility to the soil of the central Gangetic plains, which nourished some of India's most prominent ancient civilizations.

Varanasi is a heap of mismatched temples and narrow steps located on the Ganges' crescent-shaped western bank, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. It is a city of scholars, home to one of Asia's largest universities.

It is a city of temples, including the gold-plated Vishwanath sacred to Shiva; the Bharat Mata, or Mother India, temple that boasts a huge three-dimensional relief map of the Indian subcontinent carved out of marble; and the hundreds of small temples that dot the waterways and alleys. It is also a city of legends. Varanasi strains under its own myths, which are contradictory, obscure and impossible to prove.

                             Pilgrims on the Ganges River, Banaras, India  

"Death in Kashi is not a feared death, for here the ordinary God of Death, frightful Yama, has no jurisdiction. Death in Kashi is death known and faced, transformed and transcended."


Readers interested in studying Banaras in greater detail are encouraged to consult the writings of Diana Eck, Roger Housden, Savitri Kumar, and Rana Singh listed in the India bibliography.

Image Source: Early morning fog shrouds the river Ganges and the holy city of Banaras

Sacred Sites of India

·         Amarnath Cave, Kashmir

·         Buddhist Pilgrimage in India

·         The Golden Temple, Amritsar

·         Muruga Shrines of South India

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Created on Jan 11th 2020 00:38. Viewed 155 times.


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