Varanasi is strategically located on the Delhi Kolkata route on the banks of the great River Ganges. Placed around 300 km from the capital city of Uttar Pradesh Lucknow. Varanasi is one of the most ancient inhabited civilizations on the earth. It is based on the banks of tributaries of the Ganges, the Varuna and Asi rivers and hence gets the name of Varanasi.

Varanasi is one of the most ancient inhabited cities of the world is also the oldest living city in the world. Varanasi is considered to be India 's religious and spiritual hub and derives its name from the tributaries of the Ganges, Varuna, and Asi that it is located on. Its original name Kashi comes from Kasha meaning the place of sacred light. The other name Benares might have been either a corruption of Varanasi by the British or from the Pali version of the word Varanasi to Baranasi to Benares. Kashi Viswanath temple is one of the cities of 12 Jyotirlingas yatra. Famous author Mark Twain after visiting the city in the 19th century wrote, " Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together."

Varanasi is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage centers of India. Legend says that it was the dwelling place of Lord Shiva and therefore the devotees believe that a dip in the Ganges at Varanasi washes all their sins and helps them attain salvation. People from all over India come here at least once in a lifetime so that they can purify themselves. The age-old people come here in the last days of their lives to die on the Ghats of Varanasi. They believe that such death would relieve them of the vicious circle of rebirth and they would attain eternal salvation or Moksha. Varanasi is an amazing spiritual power for all ages. The old come here to die while the infants are brought here by their parents to take the first holy dip in the Ganges and worship the reigning deity, Lord Shiva. The newlywed come for the blessings of the Gods and the widows come here to lead a life devoted to the same God.

Varanasi finds a mention in the epics of Mahabharata and the ancient Hindu scriptures. Although the history of the city is lost in its antiquity, it has been glorified and described in the Skanda Purana as Kashi, written nearly 5000 years ago. Kashi since then has been a center of education and knowledge. While the city is important for the Hindus it also gained importance when Buddha preached his first sermon in Saranath, just 10 km away from Varanasi .

By the time the Chinese scholars such as Fa Xian and Xian Zhuang had visited Varanasi and written about its advanced and developed culture, the city had already grown into prominence all over India and into its neighboring countries as the city of Temples, as the city of education and the as the city of spiritual bliss. It was renowned as the flourishing center of religion, education, and commerce by the 3rd century A.D.

The prosperity of this city of temples became an inevitable bone of contention for the local rulers and also attracted the Muslim rulers of the north. From the 11th century onwards it was looted and stripped many times till the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Hence although it an ancient city it hardly has any ancient temples and most of the present ones standing were rebuilt by various Hindu rulers in the 18th century.

After accession by the British during the Raj and later after the Independence, Varanasi still retained its identity and remained a prominent city. With time the paths of salvation might have changed and definitions of purity may have been redefined.

But even today the city holds its unique charm with narrow by lanes and innumerous Ghats, with devotees performing their traditional rituals in the Ganges and the people flocking to this city to attain salvation.

Apart from the mornings on the Ghats and rituals at the temples, Varanasi is famous for producing the most beautiful and ethnic silk saris that are world-famous. The beetle leaf, the Benarasi paan from the city is equally famous for its pungent taste yet soft structure.

Varanasi is a haunting city of dignified buildings, although many of them crumbling, glorified by myth and legend. An old eternal city sanctified by religion retaining its very special vitality.

A visit to Varanasi is the experience of some kind. For some its self-discovery, for others its salvation while for some it's just an ancient city and few unlucky ones who carry back nothing but only worst of the memories from the city.

Varanasi is a captivating destination that attracts visitors from around the globe who seek to immerse themselves in its rich cultural heritage and spiritual aura. Let's explore the unique charm of this ancient city.

Ghats along the Ganges:

Varanasi is renowned for its ghats, which are a series of steps leading down to the river. The city boasts over 80 ghats, each with its own significance and purpose. Dashashwamedh Ghat is one of the most prominent and vibrant ghats, where the famous Ganga Aarti ceremony takes place every evening. The Assi Ghat is known for its peaceful ambiance and is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva resides. Taking a stroll along the ghats allows visitors to witness various rituals, ceremonies, and the daily life of the locals.

The Ganga Aarti:

One of the highlights of visiting Varanasi is witnessing the Ganga Aarti ceremony. Every evening, as dusk settles over the city, priests dressed in traditional attire perform a beautifully choreographed ritual of worship to the River Ganges. Lamps are lit, incense fills the air, and hymns resonate, creating a mesmerizing and spiritual atmosphere. The Ganga Aarti is a spectacle that leaves a lasting impression on all who witness it.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple:

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the most revered and important temples in Varanasi. It holds immense religious significance for Hindus and is considered one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (radiant lingas) of Lord Shiva. The temple's stunning architecture and intricate carvings are a testament to the rich craftsmanship of the region. Devotees flock to the temple to seek blessings and immerse themselves in the divine energy that pervades the premises.

Sarnath - The Serene Buddhist Site:

Located just a few kilometers from Varanasi, Sarnath is a significant Buddhist pilgrimage site. It is here that Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. The Dhamek Stupa, an imposing structure dating back to the 5th century, stands as a symbol of Buddhist devotion. The Sarnath Archaeological Museum nearby houses a remarkable collection of ancient artifacts and sculptures, providing insights into the rich Buddhist heritage.

Varanasi's Cultural Traditions:

Varanasi is a hub of art, music, and dance. The city has nurtured several classical music and dance forms over the centuries. Visitors have the opportunity to witness captivating performances of classical music, such as Hindustani classical music and the mesmerizing sounds of the sitar and tabla. The Kathak dance form, known for its graceful movements, originated in this region and continues to enchant audiences. Exploring the narrow lanes of Varanasi also unveils its vibrant crafts scene, with exquisite silk weaving, intricate woodwork, and beautiful brassware.

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