This book is the first compendium of cultural sites in and around Varanasi. It covers a very wide range of places and subjects and provides a huge quantity of information, being a veritable small encyclopaedia of the Banaras region.
The first section includes Setting, Historical background, Religious landscape, Cosmogony, Festivities, Riverside landscape, and seven detailed Area walks along the ghats and the old city. There are also sections on the cosmic circuit of Panchakroshi, Ramanagar, Sarnath, the Jain places, the Muslim sacredscapes, and the rural landscape.
The second section “Around Banaras” covers the sites lying at less than 80 km, like Chunar and its medieval fort; Ahraura, with an Ashokan inscription; Lekhania, having pre-historic rock paintings; Vindhyachal, the Goddess’s area; Kaithi, an ancient Shiva temple; Shitala Dham, a site of a folk goddess; Jakhini, the site of a pre-Aryan goddess; Bhadohi, a centre of carpet weaving; Sitamarhi, a site of Puranic antiquity; Jaunpur with its important Muslim monuments; Chandraprabha and Kaimur Wild life sanctuaries.
The third part covers the places in the range of 100-300 km, like: Allahabad, the city of the Kumbha Mela festival; Ayodhya, the place of Sri Rama; Chitrakut, Lord Rama’s halting site; Khajuraho, the city of lived monuments; Banvasi Seva Ashram, an NGO; Mundeshvari, a seventh century goddess temple; Sasaram, with a sixteenth century royal tomb; Ballia and Sonepur, sites of sacred bath and cattle fairs; Varanasi to Vaishali by road — via Ballia, Sonepur and Hajipur; Deo and Madanpur, the twelfth century Sun temples; Gaya the City of Ghostscape; Baijanath Dham, city of Shiva.
Rana P. B. Singh is professor in the Dept. of Geography, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, and Founding President, Society of Heritage Planning & Environmental Health.
Pravin S. Rana is a visiting faculty in the Dept. of History of Art & Tourism Management, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.