Ghats of Varanasi:
The ghats of Varanasi are the prime attractions of this holy pilgrimage city. Regarded as sacred by Hindus, every ghat of Varanasi has a history attached to it. Some of these sacred ghats also find mention in ancient Indian scriptures. The most prominent is the Dasaswamedh ghat. Stretching up to a distance of 4 kms, many religious rituals are held at the ghats on a regular basis. The ghats of Varanasi are best viewed at dawn, when devotees perform various kinds of rituals and earthen lamps are immersed in the waters.
The Durga temple of Varanasi is also held in high reverence by Hindus. In this temple, Goddess Durga is worshipped as an embodiment of shakti or female power, clad in red and riding a tiger. The deity is shown in an angry posture armed with a sword. The earlier ritual of animal sacrifice in the temple has now been discontinued.
Bharat Mata Temple:
The Bharat Mata Temple is a relatively new building in this ancient city. Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936, the temple houses a perfect relief map of India carved out of marble. The most unique feature of this temple is that instead of worshipping any religious deity, the temple is dedicated to motherland India.
Bharat Kala Bhawan:
Bharat Kala Bhawan is famous for its impressive collection of miniature paintings. The wide collection includes Rajasthani paintings, pahari paintings, Nepalese & Tibetan Thankas, and also paintings of many contemporary artists. The museum has also preserved many ancient scriptures and offers a nice break from the religious places of Varanasi.
One of major Buddhist pilgrimage centres, Sarnath is 10 kms from Varanasi. Sarnath is the place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon after gaining enlightenment. Later, Emperor Ashoka erected several magnificent stupas like Dharmarajika Stupa and Dhamekh Stupa and other impressive buildings. Sarnath also houses the Ashoka Pillar, dating back to the 3rd century, which bears the Ashokan symbol of four back-to-back lions, which is today the national emblem of India.