Sarnath is to Buddhists what Varanasi is to Hindus. This city was once the greatest learning centre in India and had also been visited by Chinese travellers Fa-Hien and Huien Tsang. The Deer Park is a major attraction in Sarnath; it is believed it is the place where Buddha visited in 528 BC to preach Dharmachakra or the Wheel of Law (his first major sermon after gaining enlightment). Deer Park is a complex now and the central monument here is Dhamekh Stupa, which is believed to be erected at place, where Buddha delivered his first sermon to five disciples. There is another stupa that catches the attention and it is called Dharmarajika Stupa (built by emperor Ashoka). The complex is dotted with small monasteries and temples. The Bodhi Tree is also planted here in the year 1931. In Sarnath, one can also visit the Archaeological Museum that displays a wonderful collection of Buddhist artifacts. The major attraction here is the Ashokan Lion Capital in polished sandstone.
Shivala Ghat is yet another finest place to visit in Varanasi that reflects upon the city’s history. A famous attraction to see here is the Shiva Temple that was built way back in the 19th century by a Nepalese king. The splendid architecture here is surely something that’ll take you by surprise and so will the craftsmanship of the temple. If you wish to take a dip in the holy water, this is one place you must visit. More details at Cruise ride in Varanasi.
Dashashwamedh Ghat This is the icon ghat of Varanasi. This is the location of Ganga Arti, the most photographed ceremony of India. It is said that Lord Brahma created this ghat by sacrificing ten horses. By sunset, pilgrims flock this place to watch the arti ritual. Some even hire a boat to watch the ritual from the water. If you want to enjoy a clear view of the ritual, dine at any of the rooftop restaurants near the ghat. The ghat thrives with touristy business. The boat owners will lurk you into taking a Ganges boat ride, while the shop keepers try to make you tour their shops. You can also find some massage practitioners propagating their business in this ghat.
In an effort to promote tourism, Varanasi has started a 5-star luxury tourist cruise at Khidkiya Ghat, on September 2. The vessel named Alaknanda, is the first ever luxury cruise that will ferry passengers around all the 84 ghats. The 30-metre long double-decked modern liner, can ferry up to 110 passengers. The service is started by Varanasi-based start-up venture Nordic Cruiseline.
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