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About Varanasi City

"Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together" .

----- Mark Twain

Varanasi, also known as Banaras or Kashi , is an North Indian city on the banks of the Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, 320 kilometers south-east of the state capital, Lucknow. It is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (SaptaPuri) in Hinduism and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. Some Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Varanasi is also known as the favorite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva . It has been mentioned in the Rigveda that this city in older times was known as Kashi .

Kashi is the ‘original ground ‘ created by Shiva and Parvati, upon which they stood at the beginning of time. Varanasi is the microcosm of Hinduism, a city of traditional classical culture, glorified by myth and legend and sanctified by religion , it has always attracted a large number of pilgrims and worshippers from time immemorial.

The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the Ganges. The city has been a cultural center of North India for several thousand years, and has a history that is older than most of the major world religions. The Benares Gharana form of Hindustani classical music was developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians live or have lived in Varanasi. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath, located near Varanasi.

To be in Varanasi is an experience in itself an experience in self–discover an eternal oneness of the body and soul. To every visitor; Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience. The rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges, the high-banks, the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue soul stirring hymns and mantras along with the fragrance of incense filling the air and the refreshing dip in the holy waters gently splashing at the Ghats. Varanasi – the land where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss. Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education.

Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India. It is often referred to as "the holy city of India", "the religious capital of India", "the city of Shiva", and "the city of learning". Scholarly books have been written in the city, including the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas. Today, there is a temple in the city, the TulsiManasMandir. The current temples and religious institutions in the city are dated to the 18th century. One of the largest residential universities of Asia, the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), is located here.   Varanasi has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY - Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India.