Must Visit Once in your life

If you want to visit India; You are welcome. India is country of Taaz Mahal, Snakes, Sadhus, Dharma, Yogis, Magic, Kamasutra,Tantra, Yoga, Aaurveda, Darshan, Veda, Forests, Temples and many another mysterious things. If you miss this, you will miss a lot.
Must visit once...
Contect us for details.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India is also known as "Sun City". This "Jodhpur City Guide", provides you information about Jodhpur travel and tourism.

How to Reach Jodhpur

In the following paragraphs, we have provided information about the modes of transportation to Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Jodhpur, India travel is quite easy and accessible. Read on to know "How to reach Jodhpur":

By Air: The Jodhpur Airport is 5 km from the city center. Regular flight services connect the city with other major cities in and around Rajasthan. There are daily flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Udaipur and Jaipur.

By Train: Jodhpur is well connected by railway lines. Trains to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata are easily available. The 'Palace on Wheels' also visits this city of royal splendor.

By Road: Another convenient mode of transportation to Jodhpur is by road. The main highway between Jodhpur and Jaisalmer is via Agoli and Pokaran. The highway is well connected with Agra, Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur by bus.

Local Transport: Means of transport in Jodhpur include Taxis, Auto-rickshaws and Tongas. Taxi stand is near the main railway station. Auto-rickshaws are best suited for the narrow lanes of the old city. You can also explore Jodhpur with a bicycle.

Jodhpur Cuisine

Jodhpur has a number of restaurants and eating-places. You can every cuisine in Jodhpur, ranging from Indian to Chinese to Continental to Mughlai cuisine. While there, do not forget to try the famous Kachouri (a snack eaten with chutney). Those with a sweet tooth should try laddoos, which simply melt in your mouth. And not to forget, do have a tall glass of buttermilk or 'lassi'.

A number of Indian delicacies have also originated in Jodhpur. Following are some of the famous Jodhpur cuisines. Read on to know "What to eat in Jodhpur, Rajasthan":
  • Makhaniya Lassi
  • Mawa Kachori
  • Pyaaz Kachori
  • Hot & Spicy Mirchibada (A preparation made with potato, onion, chili and gram flour)
  • Panchkuta.
Jodhpur is also famous for its sweets. It is like a tradition in Jodhpur to first have something sweet and then proceed on to the main course. The sweet hospitality of Jodhpur is known as Mithi Manuhar. Maybe this is the reason for the sweet tone of the people of Jodhpur.

Some of the popular sweets of Jodhpur are:
  • Mave ki Kachori
  • Besan ki Chaaki
  • Maakhan Vade
Regarding eating out in Jodhpur, India some of the shops where you can find quality as well as variety in sweets are:
  • Janta Sweet Home
  • Jodhpur Sweet Home
  • Pokhar Sweets 

    Jodhpur Culture

    Jodhpur is set at the edge of the Thar Desert. This imperial city echoes with tales of antiquity in the emptiness of the desert. In the past, it was the capital of the Marwar state, founded in 1459 A.D. by Rao Jodha - the chief of the Rathore clan of Rajputs. A high wall -10 km long with 8 gates and innumerable bastions encompasses the city. It was once a major trade center. Jodhpur is now the second largest city of Rajasthan.

    Regarding the Jodhpur culture, the Jodhpuri people are amongst the most hospitable people of India. They have a typical Marwari accent. The lifestyle in Jodhpur, India is quite fascinating. The folks there wear nice and lovely multihued costumes. The women folk wear wide gathered skirts and a hip length jacket, with three quarter length sleeves, covering the front and back. Women are also love to wear jewelry on many parts of their body. They particularly like to wear specific type of jewelry like the ones worn on the feet, head, forehead, ear, nose, neck, arms, wrist, fingers, waist, etc. Another one of the unique features of the culture of Jodhpur, Rajasthan is the colorful turbans worn by men. The popular tight, horse riding trousers, 'Jodhpurs', took their name from this city only. The main languages spoken here are Hindi, Marwari and Rajasthani.

    The graceful palaces, forts and temples strewn throughout the city bring alive the historic grandeur of this city. Lending a romantic aura to Jodhpur, are its exquisite handicrafts, folk dances, folk music and the brightly attired people. The desert people are quite affable. With their sweet smiles and warm hospitality, they win the hearts of the tourists. The famous Marwar festival brings out the festive spirits of the people of this city. The bazaars of Jodhpur have a range of items from tie & dye textiles, embroidered leather shoes, lacquerware, antiques, carpets and puppets to the exquisite Rajasthani textiles, clay figurines, miniature camels and elephants, marble inlay work and classic silver jewellery.

    Jodhpur History

    Jodhpur history revolves around the Rathore Clan. Rao Jodha, the chief of the Rathore clan, is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. He founded Jodhpur in 1459. The city is named after him only. It was previously known as Marwar. The following paragraphs will tell you more about the past of Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

    The Rathores were driven out of their original homeland, Kaunaj, by Afghans. They fled to Pali, near to the present day Jodhpur. Rathore Siahaji married the sister of a local prince. This helped the Rathores to establish and strengthen themselves in this region. In some time they ousted the Pratiharas of Mandore, just 9 km of today's Jodhpur. Initially, Mandore served as their capital, but, by 1459, Rathores felt a need for a secure capital. This lead to the formation of Jodhpur, the Sun City, by Rao Jodha.

    The Rathores enjoyed good relations with all the Mughals, except Aurangzeb. Maharaja Jaswant Singh even supported Shahjahan in his struggle for succession. After Aurangzeb's death, Maharaja Ajit Singh drove out Mughals from Ajmer and added it to Marwar (now Jodhpur). Under the reign of Maharaja Umed Singh, Jodhpur grew into a fine modern city.

    During the British Raj, the state of Jodhpur was the largest in Rajputana, by land area. Jodhpur prospered under the British Raj. Its merchants, the Marwaris, flourished endlessly. They came to occupy a dominant position in trade throughout India. In 1947 India became independent and the state merged into the union of India. Jodhpur became the second city of Rajasthan.

    Accommodation in Jodhpur Rajasthan

    The problem of places to stay in Jodhpur can be easily tackled. There are a number of Hotels in Jodhpur. Accommodation in Jodhpur, Rajasthan is available to suit tourists of every budget. Low budget accommodation is also easily available in Jodhpur.

    Following are some of the popular Jodhpur Hotels:
    Apart from these, there are a number of low budget hotels also for accommodation. Still other options for staying include Guest houses. Anywhere you stay in Jodhpur, you will always feel at home.

    Tourist Attractions Jodhpur

    Located on the foothill of a sandstone hillock, the city of Jodhpur seems like an oasis in the vast desert. Jodhpur is one of the favorite tourist destinations in Rajasthan. People from India as well as all over the world visit Jodhpur every year. There are a number of tourist attractions in Jodhpur, enchanting the tourists.

    Jodhpur tourist spots stand as a living proof of the splendor, traditions and culture of the Jodhpur. The glorious past of Jodhpur is personified through the various forts, palaces and other monuments of Jodhpur. The main places to see in Jodhpur Rajasthan are:

    Mehrangarh Fort:
    The most magnificent fort in Jodhpur is the Mehrangarh Fort. It is situated on a 150m high hill. Rao Jodha, the then chief of Rathore clan, constructed it in 1459. There are a number of attractions within the fort like several palaces, galleries, a museum, temples and so on.

    Umaid Bhavan Palace:
    One of the fascinating palaces of Jodhpur is the Umaid Bhavan palace. Maharaja Umaid Singh constructed it in 20th century. A part of the palace has now been converted into a hotel and a museum.

    Jaswant Thada:
    Jaswant Thada lies to the left of the Mehrangarh fort complex. It is a royal cenotaph made up of white marble. It was built to commemorate Maharaja Jaswant Singh. Some rare portraits of the former rulers of Jodhpur are also displayed here.

    Jodhpur Weather

    Jodhpur Climate is of an extreme type, with the variations in temperature range being very high. Weather in Jodhpur, Rajasthan is dry and hot, a typical desert weather. The average annual rainfall is approximately 32 cm. In summer, the maximum temperature is around 42 deg and the minimum temperature is around 37 deg C. In winters, the maximum temperature is around 27.5 deg C and the minimum temperature is around 15.5 deg C. Jodhpur is bright and sunny throughout the year. The best season to visit the city is between October and March, when the climatic conditions in Jodhpur, India are the best.

    Jodhpur Excursions

    There are a number of places to see around the Jodhpur, India. Most of these Jodhpur excursions are related to the past of Jodhpur. Balsammand Palace was Maharaja Sur Singh of Jodhpur as a summer pavilion. Similarly, Mandore was the capital of the ancient state of Marwar, before Jodhpur. Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur got the Jaswant Sagar dam constructed. Like this almost every place around Jodhpur has a history attached to Jodhpur itself.

    Here we are mentioning some of the famous excursions around Jodhpur. Do try to see all or atleast some of the following places:
    • Mandore
    • Ossian
    • Balsammand Palace
    • Guda Bishnoi
    • Jaswant Sagar Dam
    • Machiya Safari Park
    • Pali
    • Sojat City
    • Nimaj
    • Nagaur City 

      Fairs and Festivals of Jodhpur

      Jodhpur fairs and festivals seem to express the rich culture and traditions Rajasthan. A number of festivals are celebrated in Jodhpur. However the most famous Fairs and festivals in Jodhpur, Rajasthan are:
      The Marwar festival is the most talked about and popular festival in Jodhpur. And Nagaur Fair is almost the second biggest fair in India. And the International Desert Kite festival, even being quite recent, is very famous in and around India.

      These Jodhpur, India fairs and festivals are celebrated with great enthusiasm. Be it young children or the old people, all of them take part in the pomp and show. They serve as a platform to perform local customs that have been there since times immemorial. So, if you are planning to visit Jodhpur, try to come at such a time so as to experience the popular fairs and festivals here.

      Jodhpur Forts and Monuments

      Jodhpur has a rich architectural and historical legacy. The exquisiteness of the Jodhpur forts and monuments is sure to enchant the tourists. There are number of famous palaces of Jodhpur, Rajasthan that are worth seeing. Their preservation is the result of the combined efforts of the tourism department of the Rajasthan Government and the royal families of Jodhpur.

      Dotting the city and its landscape are various forts and monuments. There are several places to see in Jodhpur, India during your tour to this region. Some of the popular tourist attractions of Jodhpur are:
      • The Mehrangarh Fort
      • The Jaswant Thada
      • The Umaid Bhawan Palace
      • The Rai ka Baag Palace

        Gardens in Jodhpur

        One of the best ways to connect with nature is through parks and gardens. The city of Jodhpur, although situated in Rajasthan, has some beautifully landscaped gardens to boast of. The parks and gardens have been developed to attract the tourists. They are a visual treat to the eyes of the tourists, acting as a break from the desert landscape.

        On your tour to Jodhpur you should visit the various parks in Jodhpur, India. There are quite a few beautiful Jodhpur gardens for the purpose of sightseeing. Some of the famous gardens of Jodhpur, Rajasthan are mentioned below:

        Mandore Garden :
        The rocky terrain and the cenotaphs of Jodhpur's former rulers make this garden attractive to tourists.

        Umed Garden :
        Umed garden has a zoo along with an aviary which acts as a special attraction to kids.

        Nehru Park :
        Developed specifically for children, this park is famous for its fountains, ponds, etc.

        Make sure you visit these gardens whenever you get a chance to visit Jodhpur. The children specifically enjoy these parks.

        Jodhpur Lakes

        The most peaceful and relaxing place for a person is by the lakeside. The tranquility of the water lends calmness to the mind in this hectic and forever running world. Whenever we go on a holiday trip, we are trying to get away from the maddening pace of the world. What better way to compose and comfort the mind than visiting a lake.

        Jodhpur lakes offer you their placidity to sooth as well as refresh your mind. There are a number of famous lakes around Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Following are the names of some of these lakes:
        Make sure to visit these lakes, while in Jodhpur. They are a virtual treat to the eye. Most probably, you will get a sense of composure and serenity after spending some time there.

        Mehrangarh Fort

        Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur is one of the largest forts in forts. It is also the most magnificent fort in Jodhpur, infact, in the whole Rajasthan. The fort is amongst the popular tourist places in India. It is situated on a 150 m high hill. It was founded by Rao Jodha in 1459. The Mehrangarh Fort can be reached from the city, 5 kms below, through a circular road.

        Read on to know more information on The Mehrangarh Fort, India:

        Seven gates have to be crossed to reach the fort. The gates still bear the marks of the various battles fought in the bygone era. Its second gate still stands witness to canon ball hits by attacking armies of Jaipur during wars. One of the gates is Jayapol, meaning victory. It was built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies. Another gate, Fattehpol, again meaning victory, was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh as a celebration for defeating the Mughals.

        Other attractions of Mehrangarh Fort, Rajasthan include several palaces inside the fort, with their sprawling and huge courtyards. One of the fort's palaces, The Moti Mahal or the Pearl Palace, has the royal throne of Jodhpur, the Sringar Chowki. The fort also has galleries, temples, etc. To the left of the Mehrangarh Fort is the Chhatri of a soldier, Kirat Singh Soda. It is the spot where he fell while defending the fort against the armies of Amber.

        The Mehrangarh Fort, with its beauty, is the living proof of the hard work and skill of the Jodhpuri sculptors.

        Museums in Jodhpur

        One of the places of interest in Jodhpur are the museums in Jodhpur. They attract tourists in ample numbers. The Jodhpur museums in Rajasthan, India are reminiscent of the history of Jodhpur, especially the royalty of the past. Also displayed in the museums are the samples of the art and craft of the region and some other exquisite collections.

        The main museums in Jodhpur, Rajasthan are:

        Government Museum :
        It is situated in the middle of Umaid public Gardens.

        Umaid Bhavan Palace Museum :
        A part of the palace complex, this museum displays a range of items belonging to the royal family.

        Mehrangarh Fort Museum :
        A part of the fort complex, this museum has a wide collection of old royal palanquins.

        When in Jodhpur, do visit these museums to get a feel of the royal past of Jodhpur. It will be an enriching experience, especially for the children.

        Ossian Jodhpur

        The Ossian city near Jodhpur, Rajasthan is an ancient city lying in ruins. It is approximately 65 Kms from Jodhpur. The main attractions of this city are its temples that have gracefully stood the test of time. They are beautifully designed and constructed. The main ones of the Osiyan Temples in Jodhpur, India are:
        Jain temples belong to 8th and 11th century. Surya (Sun) temple and the Sachiya Mata temple are famous for their beauty. Similarly, all the other temples are famous for one thing or the other.

        At one point of time in the past (8th - 12th century), this town was a great trading center. Today, it is more like an oasis in the desert of Rajasthan. Apart from its artistic temples, the Ossian city is also known for its camel rides. The tourist can enjoy the temples and their architecture during the camel ride also.

        Shopping in Jodhpur

        One thing which most of the people do on a holiday trip is to shop. It is something like a must do. Shopping in Jodhpur is an exciting and rewarding shopping experience for the visitors. It is the homeplace of many talented and skilled craftsmen. They include textile dyers, metal engravers and die-makers. Jodhpur still, probably, has the last of the tailors of the classic 'Jodhpur' breeches. While in Jodhpur, don't forget to buy the famous Jodhpuri Suit. It gives a royal identity to your dressing. Jodhpur is regarded as one of the most famous hub for wholesale export operations in India and attracts significant number of European and North American dealers. Shopping attractions of Jodhpur include the popular items of Jodhpur and the markets where you can buy them.

        The popular items of Jodhpur, Rajasthan are:
        The following lines provide information about the main Jodhpur, India shopping places and their famous items:

        Sojati Gate:
        The famous items available here are Tie and Dye Sarees.

        Station Road:
        This market is famous for Leather, Embroidered shoes and Utensils.

        Tripolia Bazaar:
        You can shop here for local Handicrafts and Textiles.

        Mochi Bazaar:
        Here you get the famous Lac works like Lac bangles.

        Nai Sarak:
        Buy Tie and Dye dresses, Leather items and Handlooms from this market.

        Clock Tower:
        Apart from the well-known item "spices", this is another place to shop for Handicrafts and Textiles.

        Jodhpur Temples

        Religion and worship are deeply rooted in the people of Jodhpur. There are not only Hindu temples in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Rather, there are places of worship in Jodhpur, India for people of every religion. Jodhpur has churches for Christians, mosques for Muslims, gurudwaras for Sikhs and even Jain temples for Janis. This shows the amount of religious freedom in the city.

        Here we are providing you with the list of the famous Jodhpur Temples:
        Apart from these you can also visit the following temples, while in Jodhpur:
        • Rameshwar Mahadev Temple
        • Ganesh Temple
        • Badli Behron
        • Ghanshyamji Temple

Khajuraho - Land Of Love

The 9th to 12th century temples of Khajuraho is the evidences of the architectural geniuses during the times of Chandela dynasty. Situated in Madhya Pradesh, India, Khajuraho oozes with passion, eroticism, dance and music and other finesses of creative arts depicted in sculpture and images of the temples. The 85 temples were built in North Indian 'Nagara' style of architecture, though only 20 of them have survived the rough weather conditions over long years of time. The two richer distinctive groups of temples are the Western and Eastern group of temples.

Temple town of Khajuraho is much different from any other temple city of India. It is not about religion and worshipping and deities. The temples of Khajuraho are instead famous for the eroticism etched on its walls in the form of sculptures. An amalgamation of science and art of architecture, these 10th-11th century temples have a very interesting legend behind them that connects them to the origin of Chandela dynasty. It is said that in a fit of passion and lust, the Moon God seduced and ravaged a beautiful Brahmin girls known as Hemvati, resulting in the birth of Chandravarman (the founder of the Chandela dynasty). Later, Chandravarman had a dream where his mother requested him to make a temple, which would reveal all aspects of the treasure of passion and erotic fantasy to the world.

In Madhya Pradesh, India.
Well-known for the sculptures in erotic poses in its temples.
Khajuraho has extreme tropical climate with temperature as high as 47°C in summers and as low as 4°C in winters.

How to Reach:
By Air:
Khajuraho has daily domestic flights to and from Agra, Varanasi and Kathmandu.
By Train:
The nearest railway stations to Khajuraho are Mahoba, Satna and Jhansi. All of these are well connected to most of the major cities of India.
By Road:
Khajuraho has frequent bus services and good roads to and from the major cities of India including Panna, Mahoba, Satna, Jabalpur, Bhopal, Gwalior, Indore, Agra and Jhansi.

Land Of The Moon God

Sculptures, Khajuraho

Temple town of Khajuraho is much different from any other temple city of India. It is not about religion and worshipping and deities. The temples of Khajuraho are instead famous for the eroticism etched on its walls in the form of sculptures. An amalgamation of science and art of architecture, these 10th-11th century temples have a very interesting legend behind them that connects them to the origin of Chandela dynasty. It is said that in a fit of passion and lust, the Moon God seduced and ravaged a beautiful Brahmin girls known as Hemvati, resulting in the birth of Chandravarman (the founder of the Chandela dynasty). Later, Chandravarman had a dream where his mother requested him to make a temple, which would reveal all aspects of the treasure of passion and erotic fantasy to the world.

Thus he brought an artistic revolution by building the famous Khajuraho temples, in the town, which was his capital. Some people also believe these erotic art forms to be the visual depiction of Kamasutra, art of sex or the relations between Shiva and Parvati, the divine couple. Khajuraho temples got lost into obscurity and were only discovered by chance but they quickly became India's second most favored tourist destination after Taj Mahal. This temple complex is perhaps the largest group of medieval temples. Other than eroticism, these sculptures also depict other refined courtly accomplishments such as music and dance. Only 22 temples have survived out of the original 85 temples. It displays one of the most unique stone-carving work and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986.

Shopping Attractions:

The two distinctive group of temples of Khajuraho have dozens of souvenir stalls, hotels and restaurants at their entrances from where one can buy mementos and gifts for their loved ones back at home. Since it is the second most visited tourist destination in India (after Taj Mahal), it is not surprising to see signboards posted here in different languages as little boys efficient in number of languages peddling handicrafts and mineral water. It is even surprising to note how these little peddlers switch from Spanish to German to French, trying to sell a trinket to you almost forcibly.

Temples of Khajuraho

It took more than 200 years to complete elaborately carved Khajuraho temples that are planned in a similar pattern. Built in the central Indian temple architectural style, the uninhibited and graceful erotic sculptures of Khajuraho temples are known for their paramount architectural balance and exquisiteness. The temple plans range from the simple ones to the most inspired ones. The lovely temples can be divided into three broad groups, namely, the Eastern group, the Southern group and the Western group. However, the Western group is not only the largest one but also the one, which is most easily accessible.

1. The Eastern Group takes in five isolated sub-group of temples situated in and around the present town of Khajuraho. Along with the three Brahmanical temples more commonly spoken of as temples of Brahma, Vamana and Javari, the three Jain temples of the deities Ghantai, Adinath and Parsvanath fall under this group.

2. The Southern Group is situated at the most distant location and includes mainly the two temples of Duladeo and Chaturbhuja, which are situated near and across the Khudarnala.

3. The Western Group is the largest of all the temple groups of Khajuraho. It is not compact and located in the center but also include the most renowned and noteworthy monuments built during the reign of the Chandela rulers. They are also known to have been maintained well by the Archaeological Survey of India and the lush green lawns surrounding them with multihued shrums and fragrant blossoms add to their beauty. The most prominent temples of the group are the Lakshmana Temple, the Matangesvara Temple and the Varaha Temple that are a part of a single complex, the Visvanatha and Nandi temples situated near the above-mentioned complex and the Chitragupta, Jagadambi and the Kandariya Mahadeo temples a little to the west of the complex. 

History of Khajuraho

Sculptures, Khajuraho
The past of Khajuraho is shrouded with mystery and conjecture. In the midst of the wilderness full of ferocious animals, there is the small town of Khajuraho standing alone in its solitude with its ancient temples. With hardly any written records and rare references to its origin, the history of Khajuraho has become trapped in the mythical folklore of the region. The beautiful artwork of these temples have gained the attention of the art lovers all over the world but the real purpose behind their construction is a mere guess work of the intellectuals. The These temples fire the imagination of the visitors with innumerable questions such as their significance and their position in the society, the reason behind using these temples as an art gallery, the whereabouts of the said kingdom and why only the temples have been found and there are no ruins of the mansions and palaces in the nearby area. The graphic representation of sexual and erotic postures in a religious place is bewildering too.

However, if the myth it is to be believed, Khajuraho was known as 'Khajur-vahika' or 'Khajjurpura' in the ancient times because of its golden date palms (known as 'khajur') that lined the gates of this city. It has been mentioned in the Mahoba-khand of Chandbardai's (the famous medieval court poet) 'Prithviraj Raso' that Hemraj, the royal priest of Kashi (the old name for Varanasi), had an exceptionally beautiful daughter named Hemvati, who was unfortunately a child widow. One summer night, while she was bathing in a lotus-filled pond, the Moon God was so dazed by her beauty that he descended to earth in human form full of lust and passion and ravished her. Later, he repented when the distressed Hemvati threatened to curse him for ruining her honor and dignity and blessed her with a valiant son who would later become a king and build the temples of Khajuraho. Hemvati left her home and gave birth to a brave and strong boy child in the tiny village of Khajjurpura. The child was named Chandravarman and it is said that by the time he was 16 years old, the glorious boy was strong and skilled enough to kill tigers or lions with his bare hands. With the blessings of the Moon God, his father he became a mighty king and built the fortress at Kalinjar. Then heeding to his mother's wishes he built 85 legendary temples surrounded by lakes and gardens at Khajuraho and also performed the bhandya yagya, to wash away the sins of his mother. 

Yet another version of the above legend raises Hemvati as a dutiful daughter who sacrificed all her happiness and dignity for her father. Mani Ram, the royal priest of Kalinjar, miscalculated once and declared the dark night as the full moon night or Purnamasi in front of the king. Hemvati, his widowed daughter could not bear the possibility of any stigma on her father's reputation and prayed to the Moon God to uphold the word of the priest. However, she had to pay a heavy price for her wish being granted when the Moon God who was smitten by the lady's beauty ravished her in return for his favor. When Mani Ram came to know of this entire incident, he was so ashamed and grief-stricken that he cursed himself and turned into a stone. However, Hemvati got pregnant with the tryst and gave birth to a virtuous son by the name of sage Chandrateya who is believed to be the founder of the Chandela dynasty. Chandelas worshipped the Mani Ram-turned-stone as Maniya Dev.

Khajuraho Dance Festival

Khajuraho Dance Festival, Khajuraho
Held every year from 25th February to 2nd March, Khajuraho Dance Festival takes place at the open-air auditorium in front of the Chitragupta Temple dedicated to the Sun God and the Vishwanatha Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. They are situated in the Western Group of temples, which is the largest, well maintained and most easily accessible temple group of Khajuraho. Started regularly since 2002, this weeklong festival has already become legendary with its outlandish classical dance performances presented in a dreamlike setting of splendidly illuminated temples. Khajuraho temples present sculptures depicting various skills and arts of courtly love including dance and music in stone and what venue can be more befitting to hold the cultural festival highlighting the various classical dances of India! 

Some of the best artists and performers that have marked themselves in their fields come from the various states of India to participate in the festival and the performances including some of the best known dance styles such as the intricate footwork of Kathak, highly stylized and sophisticated Bharathanatyam, soft lyrical temple dance of Odissi, the dance dramas of Kuchipudi, Manipuri, the dance of rare and ancient civilization and Kathakali stage fights with elaborate masks. Recently, modern Indian dances have also found their place in the Khajuraho Dance festival. Along with the dance performances one can also see a number of craftsmen trading off their indigenous arts and crafts to the visitors.

Architecture Of Khajuraho

Sculptures, Adinath temple, Khajuraho
Khajuraho group of temples in Central India is one of the most illustrious manifestations of Indian architecture. These 10th-11th century temples represent religiosity, patronage, artistic genius and aesthetic sensibility all at once. Built in the typical 'Nagara' style of architecture, over 20 of the original 85 temples have survived the climate for more than a thousand years despite being lost into obscurity and hence, suffering neglect for a long period of time. Believed to have been constructed during the Chandela rule, the temples belong to Shaivism and Vaishnavism sects of Hinduism, Jainism and 'tantrism'. Unlike other temple complexes in the country, there is no enclosure wall surrounding these temples and each of them on a high and solid raised masonry platform. Though not very large, they have elegant proportions and are adorned with sculptures on their exteriors and even interiors.

These walled sculptures include depiction of numerous deities, their attendants, celestial maidens in sensuous positions and provocative postures, embracing couples (some of them in erotic sexual positions), dancers and musicians and couples engaged in various refinements of courtly love. It is believed that one temple alone sports over six hundred and fifty such figures ranging from sensual and warm depictions to explicit sexual activity (believed to illustrate the tantric rites by some). Some of these much-famed or much-notorious sexual postures are said to follow the Kama Sutra, the ancient Indian manual of art of making love. One of the most preferred destinations after Taj Mahal, Khajuraho has provided a scenic backdrop for many movies as well as many Indian classical dances that have been performed here.

Khajuraho Excursions

Jagadamba Temple, Khajuraho

Though it is the temples and their erotic sculptures that first come to mind when we talk about Khajuraho, but they are not the only things worth a look here. There is a fort, a palace and a museum for those who want to delve into the regal and cultural splendor of the region. There are interesting lakes and waterfalls and beautiful rock formations that can charm any nature lovers who ventures there and there are national parks and sanctuaries for the wildlife enthusiasts. For the casual tourists, who just want a break from the hectic lifestyle of the big cities, Khajuraho is an idyllic place to visit.

Rajgarh Palace

25 km from Khajuraho, just 50-year old Rajgarh Palace is situated at the foot of Maniyagarh hills.

Ajaygarh Fort

80 km from Khajuraho, Ajaygarh Fort is situated at a height of 688m. This fort remained the capital of Chandelas during the dark times before their reign ended.

Kalinjar Fort
100 km from Khajuraho, Kalinjar fort is as old as the Gupta period and was won over the Chandela ruler Shri Yashovarman in the 10th century. This fort is situated on the Vindhya ranges.

Dhubela Museum
57 km from Khajuraho, Dhubela museum is situated in an old fort on the way to Jhansi. The museum has a rare collection of Bundelkhandi artifacts and a myriad of sculptures of Shakti cult. Besides that, it also has several other sections such as those on clothes, armory and paintings.

Panna National Park
30-minute drive will bring you from Khajuraho to the famous and splendid Panna National Park. The region is rich in wildlife and its highlights are Leopards, Wolves, Gharials, Wild Boars, Sloth Bears, Cheetals, Chowsinghas, Indian Foxes and Porcupines. Flora is not the less inviting with dense teak forests and the panoramic landscape of the sanctuary has deep gorges and lush green serene valleys. But due to the hot summers, this national park remains close from June to October.

Ken Gharial Sanctuary
24 km from Khajuraho, Ken Gharial sanctuary is the best place to see the crocodiles with long-snouts living in their natural home. The dreadful glimpse of the sharp teeth seemingly ready to engulf you at once does not correspond to the behavioral characteristics of these crocodiles with normally peaceful nature. However, it is best to keep the distance.

Pandava Waterfalls
30 km from Khajuraho, Pandava waterfalls are so called because it is believed that Pandavas spent most of their time in exile here. It is on the Ken River.

Raneh Falls
20 km from Khajurao, Raneh Falls are famous for the lovely rock formations on the River Ken. Besides the multihued pure crystalline granite canyon, which is 5 km long and about 100 ft deep, in varying shades of pink, red and gray, there are a number of seasonal waterfalls in the nearby wooded area making it a perfect picnic spot.

Benisagar and Ranguan Lakes

Lake Benisagar is 11 km from Khajuraho while Lake Ranguan is 25 km from Khajuraho. Both these delightful lakes have boating facilities and are perfect venue for a short picnic.

Khajuraho Temples

Temple, Khajuraho

The Khajuraho village surrounded by the mountains of Chatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh is 395 Km southeast of Agra. Today this village remains with 22 temples, which give us a glimpse of a golden time of art and devotion at their peak. Out of 22 temples, two were made from sandstone. The stone blocks were first carved and then the interlocking pieces were assembled to form a temple. Each temple is different from one another.

Western Group

Kandariya Mahadeo
The 31m high temple is the largest and most typical Khajuraho temple with exquisite carvings and intricate and detailed craftsmanship in stone depicting divine deities, celestial maidens, eternal lovers, gods and goddesses. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and enshrines the 'linga'.

Chaunsath Yogini
The temple is the earliest temple of the group that has survived. It belongs to 900 AD and is dedicated Goddess Kali. It has the distinction of being the only granite temple here.

Chitragupta Temple
This temple is dedicated to the Sun God (Surya Dev). It faces towards east or the rising sun and the imposing image of the image of the deity in the inner sanctum is as high as five feet and is shown driving a horse-drawn chariot. It is in front of this temple and the Vishwanatha temple that most of the dance performances take place during the Khajuraho Dance Festival.

Vishwanatha Temple
This temple has impressive entrances with magnificent stone guarding its northern steps and royal masonry elephants taking care of the southern steps. The three-headed image of Lord Brahma in the temple is not less captivating.

Lakshmana Temple
A pretty Vaishnava temple flaunts a lintel over its entrance depicting the divine trinity of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva along with Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu.

Matangeshwara Temple
Situated outside the premises of Western group of temples, this Lord Shiva's temple is known for the daunting eight-feet high lingam (male organ representing the natural process of reproduction and the continuity of human life form) that it enshrines.

Eastern Group

Parsvanatha Temple
The largest Jain temple of the Eastern group, Parsvanath temple has intricate stone carvings, especially, the sculptures on the northern outer wall of the temple are certainly praiseworthy. It enshrines a throne facing the bull emblem that represents the the first tirthankara, Adinatha.

Ghantai Temple
This Jain temple has remarkable frescos depicting the 16 dreams of the mother of Lord Mahavira at the time of his birth and a Jain goddess mounted on a winged Garuda.

Adinatha Temple This temple is richly ornamented with delicate and pretty scultures including those of yakshis. It is dedicated to the first Jain tirthankara (saint), Adinath.

Most of the temple here belong to Jain faith but there are three Hindu temples of the group, namely, the Brahma temple enshrining a four-faced linga; theVamana temple with divine carvings of sensuous celestial maidens in various poses adorning its outer walls and the Javari temple with a opulently carved doorway and ostentatious sculptures on its exteriors.

Southern Group

Duladeo Temple
This Shaiva temple is known for flaunting the striking images of the celestial maidens or apsaras and richly ornamented figures.

Chaturbhuja Temple It is the huge imposing intricately carved image of Lord Vishnu in the temple's sanctum, which is the chief attraction of the temple.

A Close Look At Khajuraho

Sculptures, Khajuraho

Besides the temples exemplary for their architecture and bold artistic statement, Khajuraho is just a small modest village with no more than 3000 residents surrounded by the forestland. As Khajuraho gets a fair number of tourists from all over the world every year, hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops have sprung up in large numbers at the entrances to the two distinctive groups of temples here. Aeroplanes are not a thing of curiosity for the villagers anymore and the emblem of a warrior fighting a lion single-handedly and with his bare hands seen frequently at the temples is said to be the depiction of the valiant warrior-king who was the head of the clan of the Chandela Rajputs who built the temples. Chandelas are believed to be the descendants of the Moon God himself. The construction of the temples is said to have started in the mid- 9th century and continued until the early 12th century and due to the lack of records of the building activity, the names of the thousands of sculptors, architects and masons, who must have contributed in their construction has been lost forever into obscurity.

Chandela dynasty had already lost its glory by the time the last temple was completed. Khajuraho was the capital of the Chandelas for a brief period but for most of the part, it was their religious center. However, there have been many theories regarding the sculptures adorning the facades and interiors of the Khajuraho temples. Some of them believe these temples to be centers of tantrik mysticism, which regards sex as an important part of human development and the attainment of the Absolute. Others believe that they were constructed as such to lure men and women back to the family and worldly life, which play an important part in Hinduism, from the austerities preached by the Buddha that were gaining favor with people of that time. Since thick forests surrounded these temples thus shielding them from the Muslim armies. T. S. Burt, the British engineer who re-discovered the temples in the mid-19th century found the sculptures offensive. However, the local villagers and tribals have regularly used the temples ever since they were constructed, especially, the temple of Matangeshwar Mahadev for worshipping. It was General Alexander Cunningham who worked hard to gather details about them for the first time in his Survey of India reports. It was his efforts that stirred interest in people about the place. Later, the roads were constructed, facilities were provided for and luxury hotels were planned here and thus, started the resurrection of Khajuraho.

How To Reach Varanasi

How To Reach, VaranasiVaranasi is the cultural capital of India and the melting pot of Indian civilization. Varanasi or Benaras has a well-developed transport network and is well connected to all the major Indian cities and states by air, road and rail.

By Air
Varanasi is well connected and accessible to major Indian cities and tourist spots. There are daily domestic flights to and from Varanasi to several cities in India. Apart from the state owned Indian Airlines, there are many private air taxi operators that offer their services from Varanasi to other Indian cities. In fact, the daily flights on Delhi-Agra-Khajuraho-Varanasi route are quite popular among the tourists.

By Rail
Since Varanasi lies in the heartland of the North Indian plains, it is well connected to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and other parts of India. There are two railway stations in Varanasi, the Kashi Junction and the Varanasi Junction (also known as Varanasi Cantonment). Rajdhani Express from Delhi or from Calcutta passes through Varanasi too. One can also catch trains from Mughalsarai, just 10 km south of Varanasi.

By Road
Situated in the flat Ganga plains, Varanasi has a good network of roads. frequent public and private buses and road transport to all the major towns of Uttar Pradesh and nearby areas.

Holy Cities on Ganga

River Ganga is worshipped and venerated as Goddess in Hindu religion. In Hinduism, there are many myths and stories about the descent of River Ganga on Earth. According to Hindu mythology, Bhagirath, a descendant of King Sagara, brought River Ganges on the Earth. It is said that Bhagirath led the way and river Ganga followed him, reaching the spot where lay the ashes of his ancestors. Finally, the water of River Ganga liberated the souls of Bhagirath's ancestors. For ages, River Ganga has been at the center of the economic, social, cultural and religious life of the people, especially in North India.

Over a period of time, many cities grew and developed on the banks of the holy river, Ganges. Two head streams, Alaknanda and Bhagirathi merge together at Devprayg to give birth to Ganga. From the great Himalayas, the Ganges descends on the plains in Haridwar. Haridwar is an important and holy center of Hindu pilgrimage and one of the four venues of the Kumbha Mela (the other three being Ujjain, Prayag and Nashik). Thousands of Hindu pilgrims gather at Haridwar to take holy dip in the Ganges on pious occasions. Other important cities on the Ganges include Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Patna. Of these cities Allahabad or Prayag and Varanasi hold great significance for the Hindus.

Prayag (Allahabad) is also an important pilgrim center for the Hindus and one of the four venues of the great Kumbha Mela. River Ganga and River Yamuna merge at Prayag (Sangam or union). Perhaps the most popular and venerated of all the cities located on the banks of river Ganga is Varanasi. Varanasi is also known as Kashi or Benaras. Varanasi is considered as the cultural capital of India and attracts thousands of Hindu pilgrims and visitors from all parts of the world. Varanasi has been a traditional center of learning of philosophy, Sanskrit, astrology and religion.

Educational Institutes in Varanasi

For centuries, Varanasi is reputed as a great center of education and learning. Varanasi is also called as "Sarva Vidya Ki Rajdhani" (capital of knowledge). Since ancient times people, from all parts of the world, have been coming to Varanasi to learn philosophy, Sanskrit, astrology, modern sciences and social science. The first step in the direction of establishing formal educational institute in Varanasi goes back to 1791, when a Sanskrit college was started to train the servants of the East India Company. Mrs Annie Besant established the Central Hindu School in the last quarter of the 19th century with the aim of imparting modern as well traditional education. The Central Hindu School formed the core of the Benaras Hindu University. Besides the Banaras Hindu University, other educational institutions of repute are the Sampurnanad Sanskrit University, Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidya Peeth, U P College and Central Institute of Tibetan Studies.

Banaras Hindu University

The Banaras Hindu University or BHU is an internationally reputed University and is situated in Varanasi. The great nationalist leader, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, founded the Banaras Hindu University in the year 1916. Dr Annie Besant also played an important role in the formation of the BHU. The Banaras Hindu University played an important role in the Indian independence movement. Over a period of time, it has developed into one of the greatest centers of learning in India. The BHU has produced many great freedom fighters and Nation builders. It has immensely contributed to the progress of the nation through a large number of renowned scholars, artists and scientists.

The Banaras Hindu University has a sprawling campus, spanning across 1300 acres. It has well maintained roads (crossing each other at right angle), extensive greenery, a temple, an airstrip and buildings, which are an architectural delight. There is another campus of the Banaras Hindu University at Barkachha, in Mirzapur district, covering an area of 2700 acres. The BHU comprises of 3 Institutes, 14 Faculties, 124 Departments, 4 Interdisciplinary Centers and 3 Constituent Schools, spanning a vast rang of subjects pertaining to all branches of humanities, social sciences, science, technology, medicine, fine arts and performing arts.

Banaras Hindu University also has 6 centers of advanced studies, 10 Departments under Special Assistance Programme and a large number of specialized Research Centers. There are four Degree Colleges in Varanasi that are affiliated to the BHU. The Bharat Kala Bhavan, an art and archaeological museum, is a treasure trove of rare collections. The Banaras Hindu University also has a medical college (Institute of Medical Sciences) and an engineering institute (IT BHU). Sir Sundar Lal Hospital (having a capacity of 927 beds) is equipped with all the modern amenities and caters to the medical needs of a large population. The University also provides for a well-developed sports infrastructure. BHU has wide range of facilities for sports and hobbies. It has large playgrounds, a big auditorium, a flying club and many other services and utilities like Printing Press, Publication Cell, Fruit Preservation Center, subsidized Canteens, Employment and information Bureau, Security, etc.

The Banaras Hindu University consists of about 15000 students, coming from to all streams of life, castes, religions and races. It has about 2000 teachers and nearly 5000 non-teaching staff. Another important feature of the BHU is the number of foreign students. A large number of students come from the U.S.A., Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, etc.

Kashi Vidya Peeth

The Kashi Vidya Peeth was set up in 1920 by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta to provide alternate education arrangement during the Non-cooperation movement during India's freedom struggle. It soon became a center of National education with Hindi as the medium of instruction. Acharya Narendradev, Babu Sampurnanand, Babu Sriprakash and many more luminaries of the time have been associated with this institute. Over a period of time, the Kashi Vidyapeeth has flourished into an educational institute of repute.

Today, the university offers courses almost on all disciplines ranging from humanities and management to life sciences. A medical college is also being planned in the University. Besides, the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth has taken a great leap forward by keeping pace with the changing times and offering new courses according to the needs of the times and also the students. As a result of this many new departments and faculties have come up at the University campus in the last few years.

Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya

The Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya (university) was founded on 22 March 1958 by the then Chief Minister Dr. Sampurnanand and Education Minister Pt. Kamalapati Tripathi, with the name of `Varanaseya Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya'. Dr. A.N. Jha was its first vice-chancellor. It was renamed as Sampurnanand Sanskrit University under the U.P. State University Act, 1973.

The University has since been proceeding along the set path of the programme while trying to achieve its goal. The Sampurnanand Sanskrit University has a great history of about 205 years (including the Govt. Sanskrit College). In other words, the history of the Sampurnanand Sanskrit University includes history of the Sanskrit Education itself. The guidelines set by the glorious past of the Govt. Sanskrit College Benares has been the focus of the university.

The history of the Govt. Sanskrit College goes back to the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Under a proposal of Sri Jonathan Duncan, the Govt. Sanskrit College was established in 1791. Pt. Kashinath was its first teacher and Acharya. At that point of time, there was an arrangement for the teaching of subjects such as Vedas, Vedanta Purana, Ayurveda, Sahitya, Astrology, Theology, Mimamsa, Nyaya, etc. The college was conducted with the surplus revenue of the Benares State. At present the Sampurnanand University has a number of faculties and departments, dedicated to the study of various humanities and science disciplines.

Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies

Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies was established with the philosophy of imparting education in Tibetan Studies with a preference for the traditional Tibetan method of teaching within an innovative framework of modern universities, comprising time-bound courses of study, written examinations and award of degrees. The institute is situated in the serene and beautiful surroundings of Sarnath. The Institute is mainly research-oriented and seeks to mould through its teaching departments students turning into suitably qualified persons capable of undertaking works of research and restitution in concurrence with the fundamental objectives of the organization. The curriculum of courses have been so drawn as to provide the students with sound footings in traditional subjects of Tibetology, while enabling them to be fully conversant with modern subjects and research methodology.

The Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies earlier functioned as a special constituent wing of the Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi. The Institute was registered under the Societies Registration Act in the end of 1977 to operate as an autonomous organization under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Education, Government of India. Ever since, the Institute has gradually progressed with optimal success. With considerable growth in its infrastructure and academic excellence, the Department of Culture initiated a proposal for the Institute to give it a Deemed University Status. The Institute was finally declared as a "Deemed to be University" in 1988.

Udai Pratap College

The Udai Pratap College is situated in the northeast part of the holy city, Varanasi. The U P College spans across 100 acres. This college is one of the several academic institutions running in the same campus managed by Udai Pratap Educational Society. Late Rajarshi Udai Pratap Singh Ju Deo, the Raja of Bhinga estate established this college in the year 1909. At that time, it started as a High School but at present there are several institutions running in this campus.

The U P College, Varanasi started functioning as a degree college in the year 1949 with only a few graduation level courses in Arts and Commerce. At present the U P College provides for higher education in several courses at graduate and post-graduate level. The college has been granted an Autonomous status, getting the authority to design and implement its own curriculum and to conduct the examination and announce the results, by the UGC and the State Government of U.P.

Apart from academic activities, the U P College has excellent records in the field of sports and games in general and hockey, in particular. In the campus the U P College has its own hospital to provide regular medical service to the students and the staff. There are a number of hostels to provide residential accommodation to its students. In the College campus, IGNOU has opened a study center through which thousands of students get distance education in numerous disciplines.

Art & Culture of Varanasi

Silk Benares, VaranasiThe art and culture of Varanasi is unique. It is the rich cultural tradition of Varanasi that makes it the cultural capital of India. A combination of archaeology, mythology, geography, art and history makes Varanasi a great center of Indian culture. Though Varanasi is associated mainly with Hinduism and Buddhism but one can find glimpse of many religious beliefs, types of worship and religious institutions at Varanasi. It is amazing to see the primitive worship cults being practiced at Varanasi.

Varanasi presents a complete museum of Indian art and culture. At Varanasi one can feel the changing patterns and movements in course of history. It has a rich and unique style of art forms and folk art. For centuries, Varanasi has produced master craftsmen and earned name and fame for its beautiful Sarees, handicrafts, textiles, toys, ornaments, metal work, clay and woodwork and other crafts.

Since ancient times, Varanasi has been the Capital of all knowledge (sarva Vidya ki Rajdhani). Varanasi has produced numerous famous scholars and intellectuals, who have left their mark in respective fields of activity. Varanasi is home to numerous universities, college, schools, Madarsas and Pathshalas and the Guru Shishya tradition still continue in many institutions. The literary tradition of languages, dialects, newspapers, magazines and libraries continue to even this day.

Varanasi presents a unique social and cultural fabric. Cultural and linguist pluralism and various ethnic groups are so very eternal to the holy city, Varanasi. At Varanasi one gets to explore the city of affluence, intellectuals, oral traditions, castes and customs, personalities, professions and communal harmony. There is another interesting facet to Varanasi, where one gets to enjoy Benarasi pans, Thandai, Gamcha, Bahri Alang and Mauj Masti.

Music, drama and entertainment are all synonymous with Varanasi. Benaras has long been famous for its music, both vocal and instrumental and has its own dance traditions. Add to this, Varanasi has a very rich stock of folk music and drama (esp. Ramlila), fairs and festival and the rich tradition of akharas, games and sports. All these combine together to give a distinct look to the city of moksha, Varanasi.

Astrology,Sanskrit &Yoga at Varanasi

Varanasi is a center of education and learning for centuries and is aptly called as the cultural capital of India. Scholars, intellectuals, philosophers, mystics and saints from all over the world have been coming to Varanasi, the capital of education. In earlier times, Varanasi was more famous for Vedic education and astrology (jyotish). Students and scholars from different parts came to the holy city to study and learn philosophy and astrology.

Thus, there developed a great tradition of learning of Vedic astrology or "jyotish shastra" at Varanasi. The system of Vedic astrology continues to even this day in Varanasi. It is very much evident in the "Guru Shishya parampara" of Kashi. In ancient and medieval period, jyotish was taught at "Ashrams" and "Gurukuls" and it continues to be taught at many of the present educational institutions at Varanasi. There are separate faculties Meditation and Astrology in B.H.U. and Sampurnanand Sanskrit University. Following are main center for meditation and astrology.

Sanskrit is not only a classical language but also a repository of Indian cultural heritage. Sanskrit is the most ancient among the languages of the world. Its storehouse of knowledge is unrivaled and one of the most invaluable treasures of the world. Sanskrit language is a symbol of Indian tradition and thought, which has exhibited full freedom in the search of truth. The most interesting aspect of Sanskrit language is that it has shown complete tolerance towards other languages. Varanasi is a true example of Guru-Shishya tradition, which has helped in the growth and development of Sanskrit language.

Since ancient times, Varanasi is a great center of learning of Sanskrit language. Over a period of time, Varanasi has produced many great scholars of Sanskrit. Many great works of Sanskrit have also been penned at Varanasi. The Sampurnanand Sanskrit University was set up at Varanasi to keep intact the traditional scholarship and to strike a balance between India and western outlooks and to conduct research and to study various aspects of culture and spiritual literature. Over a period of time, this university has contributed towards the development of Sanskrit language by taking up the study and research on Vedas, Vedanta Purana, Ayurveda, Sahitya, Astrology, Theology, Mimamsa, Nyaya, etc.

The Sampurnanad Sanskrit University has played an important role in the development of Sanskrit language through translation and publication of specific texts as well cataloguing of manuscripts. It has also coordinated the oriental and occidental currents of thoughts, while preserving the ancient Indian tradition. It has helped in the grooming up of new and talented scholars who are well versed in the knowledge of traditional Sanskrit and fully acquainted with modern thoughts and are capable of carrying on comparative study on modern lines.

Varanasi has been a great center of Indian philosophy, spiritualism, Ayurveda, Yoga and mysticism. Yoga is a way of balancing and harmonizing the body, mind and emotions. Yoga is done through the practice of asana (the physical exercise), pranayama (the breathing technique) and mudra. All these practices purify the body, mind and energy system to prepare the ground for higher practice of meditation and for the ultimate experience of cosmic consciousness.

The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word "Yog", which means "unity" or means to join. This unity or joining is described in spiritual term as the union of Shakti (energy) with his consort Shiva (the supreme consciousness) and this is the central theme of yoga. At Varanasi, there is a great tradition of Yoga learning and this continues even to this day. Traditionally, Ashrams and Muths have been the center of Yoga practice and learning and with the establishment and development of modern institutions of learning, Yoga has been given due place in their curriculum.

There are separate faculties and departments of Yoga, Ayurveda, and Meditation and Astrology in B.H.U. and Sampurnanand Sanskrit University. Varanasi is the center for Yoga, Ayurveda, Meditation and Astrology. Following are main centers for Yoga, Meditation and Astrology.

                       VARANASI MUSIC
Music is supposed to be the soul of life. By virtue of being the oldest living city, Benaras has its own rich history and treasure of music. According to mythology, when Renu (son of Vishwamitra) and Mahagovind founded Kashi (Varanasi), they also brought with them the Aryan traditions and the Vedic culture. Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of Varanasi and is also considered as the lord of dance and music. According to the Puranic tales the Apsaras, Gandharvas and Kinnars lived in Varanasi and made the musical tradition of Varanasi a rich one.

Going back to history, we find numerous instances and examples of dance, music and drama evolving in Varanasi. Excavations at Varanasi have shown a terracotta figurine, in which two musicians are playing percussion instruments. The literature of ancient and medieval times also point out to a great tradition of music in Kashi or Varanasi. The Bhakti movement in the medieval period also contributed to the development of music in Varanasi. Great saint Chaitanya and Vallabhacharya played an important role in the development and popularity of music in Varanasi. Saints like Surdas, Kabeer, Raidas, Meera and Tulsi also made rich and valuable contributions to the devotional music and their Bhajans are popular to even this day.

Benaras also developed as a great center of Dhrupad style of singing. In the 16th century, Govind Chandra ruled Varanasi and during his regime Dhrupad was the royal music. With the development of Dhrupad, other styles like Dhamar, Hori and Chaturang also grew. The Famous Assarwari, "Ghunghat ke pat Khol" was made famous by the Nirgun singers of Kashi while Meer Rustam (the Nawab of Awadh) patronised Music Festivals like Jhoola, Jhoomar, Kajri, Birha, Dangal, Gulab Bari and music festivals on boats. Over a period of time Tappa form of singing also became popular in Varanasi and its main exponents were Shori Miyan, Gammu Khan and Shade Khan.

Over a period of time, the Maharajas of Kashi or Varanasi also gave patronage to music and that resulted in making Varanasi a great center of music. Here, it's important to note the contribution of Maharaj Prabhu Narayan Singh, who gave patronage to Bahadur Shah's court Musicians like Waris Ali, Akbar Ali, Nisar Khan, Sadiq Ali and great Ashiq Ali Khan. Ali Mohammad and Ali Bux, the sons of Basat Khan, were considered the "jewels" of Kashi Darbar. Thus, a galaxy of great musicians made Banaras a great center of music. Varanasi saw the development of Banarasi Thumri, Dadra, Chaiti, Hori, Bhairavi, Kajri, Tarana, Ghato and much more. Besides these major streams, lesser-known forms like Tirwat, Sadra, Khamsa, Lavni, Chaturang, Sargam, Ragmala, Kirtan, Qauwali, Kathagayan, Bhajan and Ramayan also developed at Varanasi.

Varanasi is also associated with many great instrumentalists. Sehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan is famous world wide while Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar has earned wide acclaim throughout the world. Other instrumentalists who have left their mark are Madan Mohan, Bhola Nath, Pathak, Mannuji, Amarnath Mishra, Brindwan Das, Ramdeo and Subodh Babu.