Varanasi
Overview
The name Varanasi has its origin possibly from the names of the two rivers Varuna
Varuna River
The Varuna River is a minor tributary of the Ganges River. It is named after the god Varuna.The Varuna rises at , flows east-to-southeast for some 100 km, and joins the Ganges at , just downstream of Varanasi. The name Varanasi itself is interpreted to be derived from the name of the river...

 and Assi, for the old city lies in the north shores of the Ganga bounded by its two tributaries, the Varuna and the Asi, with the Ganges being to its south. Another speculation about the origin of the name is that the river Varuna itself was called Varanasi in olden times, from which the city got its name. This is generally disregarded by historians, though there may be some earlier texts suggesting it to be so.
Through the ages, Varanasi was variously known as Avimuktaka, Anandakanana, Mahasmasana, Surandhana, Brahma Vardha, Sudarsana, Ramya, and Kasi.

In the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

, the city was referred to as Kasi or Kashi, "the luminous one" as an allusion to the city's historical status as a centre of learning, literature, and culture.
Encyclopedia

Etymology

The name Varanasi has its origin possibly from the names of the two rivers Varuna
Varuna River
The Varuna River is a minor tributary of the Ganges River. It is named after the god Varuna.The Varuna rises at , flows east-to-southeast for some 100 km, and joins the Ganges at , just downstream of Varanasi. The name Varanasi itself is interpreted to be derived from the name of the river...

 and Assi, for the old city lies in the north shores of the Ganga bounded by its two tributaries, the Varuna and the Asi, with the Ganges being to its south. Another speculation about the origin of the name is that the river Varuna itself was called Varanasi in olden times, from which the city got its name. This is generally disregarded by historians, though there may be some earlier texts suggesting it to be so.
Through the ages, Varanasi was variously known as Avimuktaka, Anandakanana, Mahasmasana, Surandhana, Brahma Vardha, Sudarsana, Ramya, and Kasi.

In the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

, the city was referred to as Kasi or Kashi, "the luminous one" as an allusion to the city's historical status as a centre of learning, literature, and culture. Kasikhanda described the glory of the city in 15, 000 verses in the Skanda Purana
Skanda Purana
The Skanda Purana is the largest Mahapurana, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts. The text is devoted mainly to the lilas of Kartikeya , a son of Shiva and Parvati. It also contains a number of legends about Shiva, and the holy places associated with him...

.
In one verse, God Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

 says,

The three worlds form one city of mine, and Kasi is my royal palace therein.

Legendary history

According to legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

, the city was founded by the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 deity Lord Shiva, several thousand years ago, thus making it one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the country. It is also a general belief that it stands on the weapon "The Trishool" of Lord Shiva. It is one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus. Many Hindu scriptures, including the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

, Skanda Purana
Skanda Purana
The Skanda Purana is the largest Mahapurana, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts. The text is devoted mainly to the lilas of Kartikeya , a son of Shiva and Parvati. It also contains a number of legends about Shiva, and the holy places associated with him...

, the Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

, and the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, mention the city.

Varanasi is generally believed to be about several thousand years old. Varanasi was an industry centre famous for its muslin
Muslin
Muslin |sewing patterns]], such as for clothing, curtains, or upholstery. Because air moves easily through muslin, muslin clothing is suitable for hot, dry climates.- Etymology and history :...

 and silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and sculpture. During the time of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 (born circa 567 BCE), Varanasi was the capital of the Kingdom of Kashi
Kingdom of Kashi
The Kingdom of Kashi was an independent Bhumihar Brahmin state until 1194, became a British territory in 1775, and became a state in 1911. It is the site of Ramnagar Fort and its museum, which are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares and since the 18th century has been the home of...

. The celebrated Chinese traveller Xuanzang
Xuanzang
Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang period...

 attested that the city was a center of religious and artistic activities, and that it extended for about 5 km along the western bank of the Ganges.

Kashi Naresh and Ramnagar

Varanasi became an independent Kingdom of Kashi
Kingdom of Kashi
The Kingdom of Kashi was an independent Bhumihar Brahmin state until 1194, became a British territory in 1775, and became a state in 1911. It is the site of Ramnagar Fort and its museum, which are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares and since the 18th century has been the home of...

 in the eighteenth century, and under subsequent British rule, it remained a commercial and religious centre. Varanasi suffered during the raids into India by Muhammad of Ghori, as described by Kamil-ut-Tawarikh of Ibn Asir: “The slaughter of Hindus (at Varanasi) was immense; none were spared except women and children, (who were taken into slavery) and the carnage of men went on until the earth was weary.” In 1910, the British made Varanasi a new Indian state, with Ramanagar as its headquarters but with no jurisdiction over the city of Varanasi itself. Kashi Naresh still resides in the fort of Ramanagar. The Ramnagar Fort
Ramnagar Fort
Ramnagar Fort is a fort in Ramnagar, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state, India. The fort and its museum are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares and since the 18th century has been the home of Kashi Naresh.-History:...

 of the Kashi Naresh is situated to the east of Varanasi, across the Ganges. The Ramnagar Fort was built by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh with creamy chunar sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 in the eighteenth century. It is a typically Mughal
Mughal architecture
Mughal architecture, an amalgam of Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indian architecture, is the distinctive style developed by the Mughals in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in what is now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. It is symmetrical and decorative in style.The Mughal dynasty was...

 style of architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 with carved balconies, open courtyards, and picturesque pavilions. The other fort of the Kashi Naresh is the Chet Singh Palace, near Shivala Ghat, Varanasi built by Maharaja Chet Singh.

Ramnagar Fort and its museum are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares and since the 18th century has been the home of Kashi Naresh. Even today the Kashi Naresh is deeply revered by the people of Benares. He is the religious head and the people of Benares consider him the incarnation of Lord Shiva. He is also the chief cultural patron and an essential part of all religious celebrations.

Events of 1857

A massacre by British troops, of the Indian troops stationed here and of the population of the city, took place during the early stages of the rebellion of 1857
Indian Rebellion of 1857
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 began as a mutiny of sepoys of the British East India Company's army on 10 May 1857, in the town of Meerut, and soon escalated into other mutinies and civilian rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and central India, with the major hostilities confined to...

.

Modern history


In March 2006, bomb blasts from terrorists
2006 Varanasi bombings
The 2006 Varanasi bombings were a series of bombings that occurred across the Hindu holy city of Varanasi in India on Tuesday, 7 March 2006. At least 28 people are reported to have been killed and as many as 101 others were injured.-Blast at the Temple:...

 resulted in 28 people being killed and many injured. One of the bombs was planted in the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple (Varanasi)
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple is one of the sacred temples of Hindu god Hanuman in the city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. It is situated by the Assi river stream, on the way of the Durga Temple and the New Vishwanath temple within the Banaras Hindu University campus. The word Sankat Mochan in...

, a shrine dedicated to Lord Hanuman
Hanuman
Hanuman , is a Hindu deity, who is an ardent devotee of Rama, a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and one of the dearest devotees of lord Rama. A general among the vanaras, an ape-like race of forest-dwellers, Hanuman is an incarnation of the divine and a disciple of Lord Rama in the...

, while another was planted on a platform of the Varanasi Cantonment Railway Station, the main railway station in the city. A militant group, Lashkar-e-Kahab, claimed responsibility for the terror attacks.

In November 2007 Varanasi endured another bomb blast. The bomb was placed in the civil court of Varanasi. More than 20 people died and over 100 were injured

Geography and climate

The city of Varanasi is located in the middle Ganges valley of North India, in the Eastern part of the
state of Uttar Pradesh, along the left crescent-shaped bank of the Ganges river. It has the headquarters of Varanasi district
Varanasi District
Varanasi district is one of the districts of Uttar Pradesh state in northern India, with Varanasi city as the district headquarters. Varanasi district is a part of Varanasi division. The district occupies an area of 1,535 km². The district has a population of 3,138,671 .-Divisions:The...

. The "Varanasi Urban Agglomeration" — an agglomeration of seven urban sub-units — covers an area of 112.26 km 2 (approximately 43 mi²). The urban agglomeration is stretched between 82° 56’E - 83° 03’E and 25° 14’N - 25° 23.5’N. Being located in the Indo-Gangetic Plain
Indo-Gangetic plain
The northern Plains also known as the Indo - Gangetic Plain and The North Indian River Plain is a large and fertile plain encompassing most of northern and eastern India, the most populous parts of Pakistan, parts of southern Nepal and virtually all of Bangladesh...

s of North India
North India
North India, known natively as Uttar Bhārat or Shumālī Hindustān , is a loosely defined region in the northern part of India. The exact meaning of the term varies by usage...

, the land is very fertile because low level floods in the Ganges continually replenish the soil.

On a local level, Varanasi is located on a higher ground between rivers Ganges and Varuna, the mean elevation being 80.71 m. As a result of absence of tributaries and canals, the main land is continuous and relatively dry. In ancient times, this geographic situation must have been highly favourable for forming settlements. But it is difficult to ascertain the original geography of Varanasi because the city's current location is not exactly the same as the one described in some old texts.

Varanasi is often said to be located between two confluences: one of the Ganges and Varuna
Varuna River
The Varuna River is a minor tributary of the Ganges River. It is named after the god Varuna.The Varuna rises at , flows east-to-southeast for some 100 km, and joins the Ganges at , just downstream of Varanasi. The name Varanasi itself is interpreted to be derived from the name of the river...

, and other of the Ganges and Assi, (Assi having always been a rivulet rather than a river.) The distance between these two confluences is around 2.5 miles (4 km), and religious Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

s regard a round trip between these two places—a Pancha-kroshi Yatra (a five mile (8 km) journey) ending with a visit to a Sakshi Vinayak Temple as a holy ritual.

Climate

Varanasi experiences a humid subtropical climate
Humid subtropical climate
A humid subtropical climate is a climate zone characterized by hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters...

 (Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 Cwa) with large variations between summer and winter temperatures. Summers are long, from early April to October, with intervening monsoon seasons and are also extremely hot, even by South Asian standards. The temperature ranges between 32°C
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

46 °C (90°F
Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit is the temperature scale proposed in 1724 by, and named after, the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit . Within this scale, the freezing of water into ice is defined at 32 degrees, while the boiling point of water is defined to be 212 degrees...

115 °F) in the summers. Winters in Varanasi see very large diurnal
Diurnal cycle
A diurnal cycle is any pattern that recurs every 24 hours as a result of one full rotation of the Earth.In climatology, the diurnal cycle is one of the most basic forms of climate patterns. The most familiar such pattern is the diurnal temperature variation...

 variations, with warm days and downright cold nights. Cold waves from the Himalayan region cause temperatures to dip across the city in the winter from December to February and temperatures below 5 °C are not uncommon. The average annual rainfall is 1110 mm (43.7 in). Fog is common in the winters, while hot dry winds, called loo
Loo (wind)
The Loo is a strong, hot and dry summer afternoon wind from the west which blows over the western Indo-Gangetic Plain region of North India and Pakistan. It is especially strong in the months of May and June...

, blow in the summers.

Through a combination of water pollution, new constructions of upstream dams, and increase in the local temperature, the water level of the Ganges has recently gone down significantly, and small islands have become visible in the middle of the river.

Weaving

Varanasi has several small cottage industries, including producting of Banarasi saris, which are a regional type of sari
Sari
A sari or sareeThe name of the garment in various regional languages include: , , , , , , , , , , , , , is a strip of unstitched cloth, worn by females, ranging from four to nine metres in length that is draped over the body in various styles. It is popular in India, Bangladesh, Nepal,...

 made from silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

. The city also produces carpets and handicrafts. According to some writers, Varanasi has a rather high rate of Child labour given the unorganised nature of small scale industries.

Banarasi Silk is known all over the world for its finery and softness. Banarasi Sarees are adorned with intricate designs and zari embellishments making it popular during traditional functions and weddings. Earlier, the embroidery on sarees were often done with threads of pure gold. In 2009, weaver associations and cooperatives together secured Geographical Indication
Geographical indication
A geographical indication is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin...

 (GI) rights for ‘Banaras Brocades and Sarees’.

Agriculture

Varanasi produces large quantities of langra mangoes, which are variety developed in the area. Banarasi paan
Paan
Paan, from the word pān is an Indian, Pakistani, Uttarvarshi and Southeast Asian tradition of chewing betel leaf with areca nut and slaked lime paste, and katha brown powder paste, with many regional and local variations...

 (betel leaf) and khoa (a milk product) are popular, and the related small-scale industries employ many people.

Manufacturing

Indian Railways
Indian Railways
Indian Railways , abbreviated as IR , is a departmental undertaking of Government of India, which owns and operates most of India's rail transport. It is overseen by the Ministry of Railways of the Government of India....

 runs a major diesel locomotive factory in Varanasi, Diesel Locomotive Works
Diesel Locomotive Works
The Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi, India, is a production unit owned by Indian Railways, for which it manufactures diesel-electric locomotives and spare parts.-Company:...

 (DLW). BHEL, a large power equipment manufacturer, also runs a plant here.
The first Indian business house of Varanasi and Kanpur was the firm NihalChand KishoriLal established in the year 1857 which set up the fourth Oxygen plant in the country here by the name of Indian Air Gases Ltd.

According to Macaulay, Varanasi was the "city which, in wealth, population, dignity and sanctity was among the foremost in Asia". He described the commercial importance saying "from the looms of Benaras went forth the most delicate silks that adorned the halls of St. James and of Versailles."

Tourism

Varanasi is a noted centre for Banarasi
Banarasi
Banarasi saris are saris made in Varanasi, a city which is also called "Benares." These saris are historically considered to be among the finest saris in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade, fine silk and opulent embroidery, and being highly sought after...

 silk weaving and brassware. Fine silks and brocaded fabrics, exquisite saris, brassware, jewellery, woodcraft, carpets, wall hangings, lamp shades and masks of Hindu and Buddhist deities are some of Varanasi's shopping attractions. The main shopping areas include the Chowk, Godaulia, Vishwanath Lane, Lahurabir and Thatheri Bazaar. Assi Ghat, a midway point between Godaulia in the heart of downtown and youth culture of Benares Hindu University, is the district where most young, foreign, long-term residents stay.

Administration and Politics

Varanasi is governed by a number of bodies, the prime being the Varanasi Nagar Nigam
Varanasi Nagar Nigam
Varanasi Nagar Nigam is the municipal corporation of the city of Varanasi in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh....

 (Municipal Corporation) and Varanasi Development Authority, which is responsible for the master planning of the city. Water supply and sewage system is maintained by Jal Nigam, a subsidiary of Nagar Nigam. Power supply is by the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited. The city produces about 350 million litres per day of sewer and 425 tonnes per day of solid waste. The solid wastes are disposed in one landfill site. A huge amount of sewer flows into the river Ganges daily. Nagar Nigam also runs a bus service in the city and suburban areas. The city is within the Varanasi range of Varanasi zone of Uttar Pradesh Police
Uttar Pradesh Police
Uttar Pradesh Police is the police force of the state of Uttar Pradesh. UP Police is the largest police force in the world working under a single command.The Uttar Pradesh Police was formed in 1861 when the Indian Police Act came to be operational...

. A Special Superintendent of Police is the highest ranking police officer in the city. The city constitutes the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency
Varanasi (Lok Sabha constituency)
Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency is one of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh state in northern India-Assembly segments:Presently, Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency comprises five Vidhan Sabha segments...

. Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi of the Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party
The Bharatiya Janata Party ,; translation: Indian People's Party) is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Indian National Congress. Established in 1980, it is India's second largest political party in terms of representation in the parliament...

 won the constituency in Indian general election, 2009
Indian general election, 2009
India held general elections to the 15th Lok Sabha in five phases between 16 April 2009 and 13 May 2009. With an electorate of 714 million , it was the largest democratic election in the world to date.By constitutional requirement, elections to the Lok Sabha must be...

. Varanasi was one the five cities where the Ganga Action Plan was launched.

Education

The schools are affiliated with the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE)
Indian Certificate of Secondary Education
The Indian Certificate of Secondary Education or ICSE examination is an examination conducted by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, a private, non-governmental board of school education in India, for class 10, i.e., grade 10...

, the Central Board of Secondary Education
Central Board of Secondary Education
The Central Board of Secondary Education is a Board of Education for public and private schools, under the Union Government of India.-History:...

 (CBSE), or the U. P. Board
Uttar Pradesh Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad
Uttar Pradesh Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad or Uttar Pradesh Board of High School and Intermediate Education is a board of school education in Uttar Pradesh State of India. The UPB prepares the syllabus for students from Class I to Class XII, for schools affiliated with it...

.

University education

Varanasi is the site of three public universities:
  1. Banaras Hindu University
    Banaras Hindu University
    Banaras Hindu University is a public university located in Varanasi, India and is one of the Central Universities of India. It is the largest residential university in Asia, with over 24,000 students in its campus. BHU was founded in 1916 by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya under the Parliamentary...

      includes Institute of Technology
    Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University
    The Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University is an engineering institute under the aegis of Banaras Hindu University , situated in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. IT-BHU has 13 departments and 3 inter-disciplinary schools, providing technical education with an emphasis on its industrial...

    , Faculty of Management Studies, BHU, Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Institute of Medical Sciences and is among the top three largest residential universities in the world, having more than 128 independent teaching departments.
  2. Sampurnanand Sanskrit University
    Sampurnanand Sanskrit University
    Sampurnanand Sanskrit University is an institution of higher learning in Asian learning, Sanskrit allied areas, etc. that is located in Benares , Uttar Pradesh, India.- History :...

    :
    Governor General Lord Cornwallis established the Sanskrit College (1791), which was the first college in Varanasi. The first principal of Sanskrit College was Sanskrit professor J. Myor, ICS followed by J.R. Ballentien, RTH Griffith, Dr. G. Thevo, Dr. Aurthor Venice, Dr. Ganganath Jha, and Gopinath Kaviraj
    Gopinath Kaviraj
    Gopinath Kaviraj was a Sanskrit scholar and philosopher. Kaviraj was the posthumous son of Vaikunthanath, a Bengali scholar of philosophy. He was born in Village Dhamrai, in the district of Dacca, now the capital of Bangladesh...

     among others. After India achieved independence
    Indian independence movement
    The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...

    , this college became Sampurnanand Sanskrit University
    Sampurnanand Sanskrit University
    Sampurnanand Sanskrit University is an institution of higher learning in Asian learning, Sanskrit allied areas, etc. that is located in Benares , Uttar Pradesh, India.- History :...

    . It has apprx. 1000 affiliated colleges all over India.
  3. Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth
    Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth
    Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith is a public university located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. It is administered under the state legislature of the government of Uttar Pradesh. The university has more than 227 affiliated colleges spread over six districts of Uttar Pradesh and lakhs of students...

     is a chartered university that is named for Gandhi
  4. Imania Arabic College
    Imania Arabic College
    Jamia-e-Imania Jamia-e-Imania was established as a Shia Religious Seminary for extended Islamic studies and higher religious education on 15 December 1866/1283 in the city of Banaras India. It was founded by Moulvi Khursheed Ali Khan,on the proposal of Qaazi Maulana Syed Bande Ali Khan the last...

    , known as Jamia-e-Imania
    Jamia-e-Imania
    Jamia-e-Imania Jamia-e-Imania was established as a Shia Religious Seminary for extended Islamic studies and higher religious education on 15 December 1866/1283 in the city of Banaras India. It was founded by Moulvi Khursheed Ali Khan, on the proposal of Qaazi Maulana Syed Bande Ali Khan the last...

    , is a prominent Madrasa for Shia Muslims in this city and it was established as a Religious Seminary
    Seminary
    A seminary, theological college, or divinity school is an institution of secondary or post-secondary education for educating students in theology, generally to prepare them for ordination as clergy or for other ministry...

     for extended Islamic studies
    Islamic studies
    In a Muslim context, Islamic studies can be an umbrella term for all virtually all of academia, both originally researched and as defined by the Islamization of knowledge...

     and higher religious education
    Religious education
    In secular usage, religious education is the teaching of a particular religion and its varied aspects —its beliefs, doctrines, rituals, customs, rites, and personal roles...

     on 15 December 1866/1283 (A.H.).
  5. Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies
    Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies
    The Central University for Tibetan Studies is a university institute founded in Sarnath, Varanasi, India in 1967, as an autonomous organization under Union Ministry of Culture.The CIHTS was founded by Pt...

    (Central University of Tibetan Studies) at Sarnath
    Sarnath
    Sarnath or Sārnātha is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India...

     is a deemed university
    Deemed University
    Deemed university is a status of autonomy granted to high performing institutes and departments of various universities in India. This status of ‘Deemed-to-be-University’, is granted by Department of Higher Education, Union Human Resource Development Ministry, on the advice of the University Grants...

     with a preference for the traditional Tibet
    Tibet
    Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

    an method of teaching within a framework of modern universities.
  6. Other colleges include Institute of Integrated Management and Technology
    Institute of Integrated Management and Technology, Varanasi
    -About Institute:Institute of Integrated Management & Technology is one of the Private Institute located in Varanasi, India also known as IIMT-Varanasi was established in 2007.Recently renamed as IIMT Group of Institutions was a sister concern of the J B Groups, one of the Private Indian company...

     (IIMT), central hindu school, bhuUdai Pratap Autonomous College
    Udai Pratap Autonomous College
    Udai Pratap Autonomous College is an autonomous college of UGC situated in the northwestern part of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India. It spans about of land...

    , Nav Sadhana Kala Kendra
    Nav Sadhana Kala Kendra
    Nav sadhana Kala Kendra college of Dance and Music is situated in a pollution free green suburb, near Tarna, Shivpur, of the cultural city - Kashi...

     is a college of Dance and Music in the city that trains the students professionally in Bharatnatyam and Hindustani Vocal. The city also has the Jamiah Salafiah, a Salafi
    Salafi
    A Salafi come from Sunni Islam is a follower of an Islamic movement, Salafiyyah, that is supposed to take the Salaf who lived during the patristic period of early Islam as model examples...

     Islam
    Islam
    Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

    ic institution. Government Queens Inter College, one of the oldest college in east India

Culture

Varanasi's "Old City, " the quarter near the banks of the Ganges, has crowded narrow winding lanes that are flanked by road-side shops and scores of Hindu temples. As atmospheric as it is confusing, Varanasi's labyrinthine Old City is rich with culture, and a deservedly popular destination for travellers and tourists. The main residential areas of Varanasi (especially for the middle and upper classes) are situated in regions far from the ghats
Ghats
As used in many parts of South Asia, the term ghat refers to a series of steps leading down to a water body, usually a holy river. In Bengali-speaking regions, this set of stairs can lead down to something as small as a pond or as large as a major river....

; they are more spacious and less polluted.

Art and literature

Varanasi has its own culture of fine art and literature. Great Indian writers have lived in this city from Kabir
Kabir
Kabīr was a mystic poet and saint of India, whose writings have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement...

, Ravidas, Tulsidas
Tulsidas
Tulsidas , was a Hindu poet-saint, reformer and philosopher renowned for his devotion for the god Rama...

 who wrote much of his Ram Charit Manas here, Kulluka Bhatt who wrote the best known commentary of Manusmṛti here in 15th century and Bharatendu Harishchandra
Bharatendu Harishchandra
Bharatendu Harishchandra is known as the father of modern Hindi literature as well as Hindi theatre. He is considered one of the greatest Hindi writers of modern India. A recognized poet, he was also a trend setter in Hindi prose-writing...

, later writers have been Jaishankar Prasad
Jaishankar Prasad
Jaishankar Prasad , one of the most famous figures in modern Hindi literature as well as Hindi theatre.- Biography :...

, Acharya Shukla, Munshi Premchand, Jagannath Prasad Ratnakar, Devaki Nandan Khatri
Devaki Nandan Khatri
Devaki Nandan Khatri was an Indian writer, who belonged to the first generation of popular novelists in the modern Hindi language. Also known as Babu Devakinandan Khatri, he was the first author of mystery novels in Hindi. Chandrakanta is the most popular of his works.- Biography :Khatri was born...

, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi
Hazari Prasad Dwivedi
Acharya' Hazari Prasad Dwivedi was a Hindi novelist, literary historian, essayist, critic and scholar...

, Tegh Ali, Kshetresa Chandra Chattopadhyaya
Kshetresa Chandra Chattopadhyaya
Kshetresa Chandra Chattopadhyaya was a distinguished scholar of Sanskrit from India. A scholar of Sanskrit, Veda, grammar, Pali, Prakrit and philology, he was born on October 27, 1896 in village Nimta of North 24 Parganas in what was then Bengal. He came from an illustrious family of Kulina...

, Vagish Shastri
Vagish Shastri
Vagish Shastri is an international Sanskrit grammarian, eminent linguist, Tantric and yogi. He was born in the city of Khurai, in Madhya Pradesh in 1934. His primary education was in Khurai, followed by his education in Vrindavan and Benaras...

, Baldev Upadhyaya
Baldev Upadhyaya
Pandit Baldev Upadhyaya was a renowned Hindi, Sanskrit scholar, literary historian, essayist and critic. He penned numerous books, collections of essays and a historical outline of Sanskrit literature. He is noted for discussing Sanskrit literature in the Hindi language...

, Sudama Pandey (Dhoomil) and Vidya Niwas Mishra
Vidya Niwas Mishra
Vidya Niwas Mishra was a scholar, a noted Hindi-Sanskrit littérateur, and a journalist.Born at Pakardiha in Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh in January, 1926, he had his education at Allahabad University and Gorakhpur University. After his M.A...

.

Art lovers and historians like Rai Krishnadasa, his son Anand Krishna
Anand Krishna
Rai Anand Krishna is an art historian and museologist, who has not only helped in restoration and chronicling of Indian art but also created a breed of professional art researchers. Scholars from India and abroad have eagerly sought his evaluation of their work...

, musicians like Gopal Mishra
Gopal Mishra
Gopal Mishra was an Indian journalist and columnist.-Career:Born in Bidyadharpur, Cuttack, Orissa in 1933, Mishra’s career spanned five decades, starting with the Oriya daily Prajatantra, followed by editorship of the English newspaper of the same group the Eastern Times.He worked several years...

 (considered one of the best sarangi player of all times) Omkarnath Thakur, Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar , often referred to by the title Pandit, is an Indian musician and composer who plays the plucked string instrument sitar. He has been described as the best known contemporary Indian musician by Hans Neuhoff in Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.Shankar was born in Varanasi and spent...

, Bismillah Khan
Bismillah Khan
Ustad Bismillah Khan was an Indian shehnai maestro. He was the third classical musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna , the highest civilian honour in India and gained worldwide acclaim for playing the shehnai for more than eight decades....

, Girija Devi
Girija Devi
Girija Devi is an Indian classical singer of the Banaras gharana. She performs classical and light classical music and has helped elevate the profile of thumri.-Early life:Girija Devi was born in Varanasi, India in 1929...

, Siddheshwari Devi
Siddheshwari Devi
Siddheswari Devi was a Hindustani singer from Varanasi, India, known as Maa . Born in 1907, she lost her parents early and was brought up by her aunt, the noted singer Rajeshwari Devi.-Initiation into Music:...

, Lalmani Misra
Lalmani Misra
Lalmani Misra , M.A., Ph.D., D. Mus. , M.Mus. , B.Mus. , Dean & Head, Faculty of Music and Fine Arts, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, was an eminent Indian classical musician known as much for his art as for his scholarship.-Initiation into music:Lalmani learnt Dhruvapada Dhamar in the...

 and his son Gopal Shankar Misra
Gopal Shankar Misra
Gopal Shankar Misra was an Indian musician and music teacher, who played the vichitra veena.-Inheriting music:...

, N. Rajam
N. Rajam
-Early life:N. Rajam was born in Chennai in a musical family to Vidwan A. Narayana Iyer. Her brother is violinist T. N. Krishnan. Rajam started her initial training in carnatic music under her father...

, Rajbhan Singh, Anokhelal, Samta Prasad
Samta Prasad
Pandit Samta Prasad was an Indian classical musician and Tabla player from the Benares gharana. He also played tabla in many Hindi films including, Meri Surat Teri Ankhen and Sholay , and film music composer Rahul Dev Burman was one of his disciples He was the son of Pandit Hari Sunder, also...

, Kanthe Maharaj, M. V. Kalvint, Sitara Devi
Sitara Devi
Sitara Devi is an eminent Indian dancer of the classical Kathak style of dancing. When she was in her teens, Rabindranath Tagore, after watching a performance by her described her as Nritya Samragini, meaning, the empress of dance...

, Gopi Krishna
Gopi Krishna
Gopi Krishna of India was a yogi, mystic, teacher, social reformer, and writer. His autobiography is known under the title Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man....

, Kishan Maharaj
Kishan Maharaj
Pandit Kishan Maharaj was an Indian tabla player who belonged to the Benares gharana of Hindustani classical music.-Early life and background:...

, Vikash Maharaj
Vikash Maharaj
Pandit Vikash Maharaj is a Hindustani musician known for his performances on the Sarod.He is son of great Tabla player Pandit Nanhku Maharaj and nephew of Pandit Kishan Maharaj. He started his early education from Pandit Rajesh Chandra Moitra, a disciple of Ustad Baba Allauddin Khan Saheb and...

 Rajan and Sajan Mishra
Rajan and Sajan Mishra
Rajan and Sajan Mishra are brothers, renowned singers of the khyal style of Indian classical music. They were awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2007, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, jointly in 1998 and the Gandharwa National Award for 1994-1995....

, Mahadev Mishra, Chhannulal Mishra and numerous others have kept the city alive to the spiritual aspect of fine arts apart from their ability to entertain. Numerous festivals are celebrated that preserve traditional styles of classical and folk culture. All night, open music concerts like ones organised at Sankat Mochan Temple, , Kajari
Kajari
Kajari , derived from the Hindi word Kajra, or Kohl, is a genre of semi-classical singing, popular in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar . It is often used to describe the longing of a maiden for her lover as the black monsoon cloud come hanging in the summer skies, and the style is notably sung during the...

 and Chaiti Mela, Budwa Mangal, are annual features that draw connoisseurs from all over.

Sushruta, the great surgeon and author of Sushruta Samhita
Sushruta Samhita
The Sushruta Samhita is a Sanskrit text, attributed to one Sushruta, foundational to Ayurvedic medicine , with innovative chapters on surgery....

, the Sanskrit text of surgery, also lived in Varanasi.

Jantar Mantar at Varanasi

Jantar Mantar is an observatory built by Maharaja
Maharaja
Mahārāja is a Sanskrit title for a "great king" or "high king". The female equivalent title Maharani denotes either the wife of a Maharaja or, in states where that was customary, a woman ruling in her own right. The widow of a Maharaja is known as a Rajamata...

 Jai Singh
Jai Singh II of Amber
Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh was ruler of the kingdom of Amber . He was born at Amber, the capital of the Kachwahas. He became ruler of Amber at the age of 11 after his father Maharaja Bishan Singh died on 31 December 1699...

, of Jaipur
Jaipur
Jaipur , also popularly known as the Pink City, is the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan. Founded on 18 November 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, the city today has a population of more than 3.1 million....

 in the year 1737 is situated close to the Dashashwamedh Ghat
Dashashwamedh Ghat
Dashashwamedh Ghat is main ghat in Varanasi on the Ganges River, it is located close to "Vishwanath Temple", and is probably the most spectacular ghat. Two Hindu mythologies are associated with it: According to one, Lord Brahma created it to welcome Lord Shiva...

, overlooking the ghats on the Ganges. Jai Singh was a great admirer of science and technology and he was particularly passionate about astronomy.

Archaeological museum

Archaeological museum, Sarnath
Sarnath
Sarnath or Sārnātha is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India...

 is the oldest site museum of Archaeological Survey of India
Archaeological Survey of India
The Archaeological Survey of India is a department of the Government of India, attached to the Ministry of Culture . The ASI is responsible for archaeological studies and the preservation of archaeological heritage of the country in accordance with the various acts of the Indian Parliament...

. In order to keep the antiquities found from the site, a decision was taken in 1904 by the Government to construct a site museum adjacent to the excavated site at Sarnath. It was due to initiative of Sir John Marshall, the then Director General of Archaeology in India, that this museum was created. The plans were prepared by Mr. James Ramson, the then consulting Architect to the Government of India. The building was completed in 1910 to house, display and study the antiquities in their right perspective. The building forms half of a monastery (Sangharam) in plan.

There are five galleries and two verandahs on the museum to display the antiquities ranging from 3rd century B.C. to 12th century A.D. found at Sarnath.

Bharat Kala Bhavan

Bharat Kala Bhavan, located inside the BHU campus, is an art and architecture museum and houses a vast collection of paintings, Hindu and Buddhist sculptures and other materials of archaeological importance. The Bharat Kala Bhavan was established in the year 1920 A.D. by Rai Krishndas. In the main hall of the Bharat Kala Bhawan, there is a figure of a man standing on one leg and one hand on his hip and lifting a mass of stone above his head, with one hand. The figure is said to be of Lord Krishna, lifting Mount Govardhana. Many images in the Bharat Kala Bhavan confirm to the existence of Krishna cult in Kashi in 15th and 16th century.

Bharat Kala Bhavan also has a great collection of miniature paintings from the courts of Mughals and other Kingdoms and principalities. Some of the important sections in the Bharat Kala Bhavan are Mahamana Malaviya gallery, Nicholas Roerich gallery, Chhavi (Painting Gallery), sculpture gallery, Nidhi (Treasures) gallery, sculpture gallery, archaeological gallery, decorative art gallery and Banaras through ages gallery.

Ramnagar Fort

The Ramnagar Fort
Ramnagar Fort
Ramnagar Fort is a fort in Ramnagar, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state, India. The fort and its museum are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares and since the 18th century has been the home of Kashi Naresh.-History:...

 lies about 14 km. from Varanasi and is situated on the opposite bank of river Ganges. It is the ancestral home of the Maharaja of Banaras. Maharaja Balwant Singh built this fort-palace in the eighteenth century. The fort is built in red sandstone. The Ramnagar fort has a temple and a museum within the grounds and the temple is dedicated to Ved Vyasa, who wrote Mahabharata, the great Indian epic. Legends have it that Ved Vyasa stayed here for a brief period.

The Ramnagar fort houses a museum displaying the royal collection which includes vintage cars, royal palkies, an armory of swords and old guns, ivory work and antique clocks. The Durga Temple and Chhinnamastika Temple are also located at Ramnagar. A temple of Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman
Hanuman
Hanuman , is a Hindu deity, who is an ardent devotee of Rama, a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and one of the dearest devotees of lord Rama. A general among the vanaras, an ape-like race of forest-dwellers, Hanuman is an incarnation of the divine and a disciple of Lord Rama in the...

 is there. Inside the giant walls of the Ramnagar fort-palace, there is a big clock. This clock not only displays year, month, week and day but also astronomical facts about the sun, moon and constellation of stars. An interesting array of ornate palanquins, gold-plated howdah
Howdah
A howdah, or houdah, also known as hathi howdah, is a carriage which is positioned on the back of an elephant, or occasionally some other animal, used most often in the past to carry wealthy people or for use in hunting or warfare...

s and weapons are some of the artifacts on display in the Ramnagar fort-palace museum.

A rare collection of manuscripts, especially religious writings, is housed in Saraswati Bhawan with the Ramnagar Fort
Ramnagar Fort
Ramnagar Fort is a fort in Ramnagar, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state, India. The fort and its museum are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares and since the 18th century has been the home of Kashi Naresh.-History:...

. It includes a precious handwritten manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

 by Tulsidas
Tulsidas
Tulsidas , was a Hindu poet-saint, reformer and philosopher renowned for his devotion for the god Rama...

. There are also many books illustrated in the Mughal miniature style, with beautifully designed covers.

Holy City

Varanasi is one of the holiest cities and targets of pilgrimage for Hindus. As the place where Siddhārtha Gautama gave his first sermon to his disciples, Varanasi is the city where Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 was founded. It is the birthplace of Suparshvanath
Suparshvanath
Suparshvanath was the seventh Jain Tirthankar of the present age . According to Jain beliefs, he became a siddha, a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma. Suparshvnath was born to King Prathisth Raja and Queen Prithvidevi at Banaras in the Ikshvaku clan...

, Shreyansanath
Shreyansanath
Shreyansanath was the eleventh Jain Tirthankar of the present age . According to Jain beliefs, he became a Siddha - a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma. Shreyansanath was born to King Vishnu Raja and Queen Vishnu Devi Rani at Sinhpuri, near Sarnath in the Ikshvaku clan...

, and Parshva
Parshva
Pārśva or Paras was the twenty-third Tirthankara "Ford-Maker" in Jainism . He is the earliest Jain leader generally accepted as a historical figure. Pārśva was a nobleman belonging to the Kshatriya varna....

, who are respectively the seventh, eleventh, and twenty-third Jain Tirthankar
Tirthankar
In Jainism, a ' |ford]]-Maker", ) is a human being who achieves moksa through asceticism and who then becomes a role-model and teacher for those seeking spiritual guidance....

s and as such Varanasi is a holy city for Jains. Guru Nanak Dev
Guru Nanak Dev
Guru Nanak was the founder of the religion of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. The Sikhs believe that all subsequent Gurus possessed Guru Nanak’s divinity and religious authority, and were named "Nanak" in the line of succession.-Early life:Guru Nanak was born on 15 April 1469, now...

 visited Varanasi for Shivratri in 1507 and had an encounter which with other events forms the basis for the story of the founding of Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

. The city has a sizeable native Muslim population, it hosts the Roman Catholic Diocese of Varanasi, and has a significant Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 expatriate
Expatriate
An expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing...

 community. Varanasi is home to numerous tribal faiths which are not easily classified and many denominations of the religions which are present.

Annie Besant
Annie Besant
Annie Besant was a prominent British Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule.She was married at 19 to Frank Besant but separated from him over religious differences. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society ...

 worked in Benares to promote theosophy
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

 and founded the Central Hindu College
Central Hindu College
Central Hindu School, formerly known as Central Hindu College, is one of India's largest schools which is situated in the heart of the city at Kamachha Varanasi in India. This school provides the education to all societies of people having highly qualified faculties and aboratory and a SARGA HALL...

 which later became a foundation for the creation of Benaras Hindu University as a secular university.

As a place of pilgrimage for many faiths Varanasi continually hosts an unusually rich diversity of religious practitioners and teachers who are not resident in the city.

Hinduism in Varanasi

Varanasi is a holy city in Hinduism, being one of the most sacred pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

 places for Hindus of all denominations
Hindu denominations
Hinduism comprises numerous sects or denominations. The denominations are roughly comparable to different religions. The main divisions in current Hinduism are Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and Smartism...

 and is one of seven most holy places for Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

s in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

A Kṣetra is a sacred ground, a field of active power, a place where Moksha
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

, final release can be obtained. The Garuda Purana
Garuda Purana
Garuda Purana is one of the Puranas which are part of the Hindu body of texts known as smriti. It is a Vaishnava Purana and its first part contains a dialog between Vishnu and Garuda, the King of Birds...

 enumerates seven cities as giver of Moksha, They are Ayodhya, Mathura, Māyā
Haridwar
Haridwar is an important pilgrimage city and municipality in the Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, India...

, Kāsi, Kāñchī, Avantikā
Ujjain
Ujjain , is an ancient city of Malwa region in central India, on the eastern bank of the Kshipra River , today part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is the administrative centre of Ujjain District and Ujjain Division.In ancient times the city was called Ujjayini...

 and Dvārāvatī. It has the holy shrine of Kashi Vishwanath (a manifestation of Lord Shiva), and also one of the twelve revered Jyotirlinga
Jyotirlinga
A Jyotirlinga or Jyotirling or Jyotirlingam is a shrine where Lord Shiva, an aspect of God in Hinduism is worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlingam or "Lingam of light." There are twelve traditional Jyotirlinga shrines in India....

s of Lord Shiva.

Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges remits sins and that dying in Kashi ensures release of a person's soul from the cycle of its transmigrations. Hindus regard Kashi as one of the Shakti Peethas
Shakti Peethas
The Shakti Pithas are places of worship consecrated to the goddess Shakti or Parvati or Sati or Durga, the female principal of Hinduism and the main deity of the Shakta sect...

, and that Vishalakshi
Vishalakshi
The Vishalakshi Temple of Divine Mother Sati, wife of Lord Shiva stands at Meer Ghat just behind Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, India. Devout Hindus consider this as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas mentioned in the Puranas.-Manikarni:...

 Temple stands on the spot where Goddess Sati's
Dakshayani
Dākshāyani or Satī is a Hindu Goddess of marital felicity and longevity. She is worshipped particularly by Hindu women to seek the long life of their husbands...

 earrings fell. Hindus of the Shakti
Shakti
Shakti from Sanskrit shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes...

 sect make a pilgrimage to the city because they regard the river Ganges itself as the Goddess Shakti. Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara Adi Shankara Adi Shankara (IAST: pronounced , (Sanskrit: , ) (788 CE - 820 CE), also known as ' and ' was an Indian philosopher from Kalady of present day Kerala who consolidated the doctrine of advaita vedānta...

 wrote his commentaries on Hinduism here, leading to the great Hindu revival. Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

 and Shaivism
Shaivism
Shaivism is one of the four major sects of Hinduism, the others being Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. Followers of Shaivism, called "Shaivas," and also "Saivas" or "Saivites," revere Shiva as the Supreme Being. Shaivas believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer,...

 have always co-existed in Varanasi harmoniously.

Ramlila

The Ramlila
Ramlila
Ramlila is a dramatic folk re-enactment of the life of Lord Ram, ending up in ten day battle between Lord Ram and Ravan, as described in the Hindu religious epic, the Ramayana...

 is a cycle of plays which recounts the epic story of Lord Rama, as told in Rāmacaritamānasa, the version of the Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

 penned by Tulsidas
Tulsidas
Tulsidas , was a Hindu poet-saint, reformer and philosopher renowned for his devotion for the god Rama...

. The plays sponsored by the Maharaja, are performed in Ramnagar every evening for 31 days. On the last day the festivities reach a crescendo as Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 vanquishes the demon king Ravana
Ravana
' is the primary antagonist character of the Hindu legend, the Ramayana; who is the great king of Lanka. In the classic text, he is mainly depicted negatively, kidnapping Rama's wife Sita, to claim vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister...

. Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh
Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh
Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh , of the Royal House of Benares, was the Kashi Naresh from . He was the eldest surviving son of Mahipat Narayan Singh.He had a great contribution in the culture of Varanasi....

 started this tradition of staging the Ramleela at Ramnagar in mid-nineteenth century.

Ghats

Varanasi has nearly 100 ghats
Ghats
As used in many parts of South Asia, the term ghat refers to a series of steps leading down to a water body, usually a holy river. In Bengali-speaking regions, this set of stairs can lead down to something as small as a pond or as large as a major river....

. Many of the ghats were built when the city was under Maratha
Maratha
The Maratha are an Indian caste, predominantly in the state of Maharashtra. The term Marāthā has three related usages: within the Marathi speaking region it describes the dominant Maratha caste; outside Maharashtra it can refer to the entire regional population of Marathi-speaking people;...

 control. Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkar
Holkar
The Holkar dynasty , whose earliest known clan-man was Malhar Rao, who joined the service of the Peshwa in 1721, and quickly rose to the ranks of Subedar...

s, Bhonsle
Bhonsle
The Bhonsle were a prominent clan within the Maratha clan system who served as rulers of several states in India.The most prominent member of the clan was Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha empire...

s, and Peshwes (Peshwa
Peshwa
A Peshwa is the titular equivalent of a modern Prime Minister. Emporer Shivaji created the Peshwa designation in order to more effectively delegate administrative duties during the growth of the Maratha Empire. Prior to 1749, Peshwas held office for 8-9 years and controlled the Maratha army...

s) stand out as patrons of present-day Varanasi. Most of the ghats are bathing ghats, while others are used as cremation sites. Many ghats are associated with legends or mythologies while many ghats are privately owned. The former Kashi Naresh owns Shivala or Kali ghat.

Temples

Varanasi is a city of temples. Tilbhandeshwar temple is also one of the oldest temples in Varanasi. It is situated near Bengali Tola Inter College Pande Haweli.

Islam in Varanasi

Islam came to Benares in 12th century during the rule of Delhi Sultanate; and established during the Mughal Period. The Muslims form a substantial part of the city's population, particularly in the old city where they form about one third of the population. Weaving in Varanasi of the famous Baranasi saris is a Muslim domain. Many of city's Muslims belong to the weaver caste called "Ansari" ("helper" in Arabic).

Buddhism in Varanasi

Sarnath
Sarnath
Sarnath or Sārnātha is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India...

 is a place of Buddhist pilgrimage
Buddhist pilgrimage
The most important places of pilgrimage in Buddhism are located in the Gangetic plains of Northern India and Southern Nepal, in the area between New Delhi and Rajgir. This is the area where Gautama Buddha lived and taught, and the main sites connected to his life are now important places of...

. The site where Buddha gave his first sermon and thereby founded Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 is marked by Dhamek Stupa
Dhamek Stupa
Dhamek Stupa is a massive stupa located at Sarnath, 13 km away from Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India....

. Buddhist traditions worldwide have each built their country's architectural style of Buddhist temple here.

Varanasi is one of the holiest places in Buddhism too, being one of the four pilgrimage sites said to have been designated by Gautama Buddha himself (the others being Kushinagar
Kushinagar
Kushinagar , Kusinagar or Kusinara is a town and a nagar panchayat in Kushinagar district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained Parinirvana after his death.-Demographics: India census, Kushinagar had a...

, Bodh Gaya, and Lumbini
Lumbini
Lumbinī is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE...

). In the residential neighbourhood of Varanasi lies Sarnath, the site of the deer park where Gautama Buddha is said to have given his first sermon about the basic principles of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

. The Dhamek Stupa
Dhamek Stupa
Dhamek Stupa is a massive stupa located at Sarnath, 13 km away from Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India....

 is one of the few pre-Ashokan stupa
Stupa
A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

s still standing, though only its foundation remains. Also remaining is the Chaukhandi Stupa
Chaukhandi Stupa
Chaukhandi Stupa is an important Buddhist stupa in Sarnath, located 13 kilometres from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. Stupas are descendents of burial mounds and serve as a shrine for a relic of the Buddha.-History:...

 commemorating the spot where Buddha met his first disciples (in the 5th century or earlier, BC). An octagonal tower was built later there.

Jainism in Varanasi

Varanasi is a pilgrimage site for Jains
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 along with Hindus and Buddhists. It is believed to be the birthplace of Parshva
Parshva
Pārśva or Paras was the twenty-third Tirthankara "Ford-Maker" in Jainism . He is the earliest Jain leader generally accepted as a historical figure. Pārśva was a nobleman belonging to the Kshatriya varna....

natha, the twenty-third Tirthankar
Tirthankar
In Jainism, a ' |ford]]-Maker", ) is a human being who achieves moksa through asceticism and who then becomes a role-model and teacher for those seeking spiritual guidance....

. Islamic culture has also had an influence on Varanasi. Shree Parshvanath Digambar Jain Tirth Kshetra (Digambar Jain Temple) is situated in Bhelupur, Varanasi. This temple is of great religious importance to Jain Religion.
Parshvanath (पार्श्वनाथ) or Parshvanatha (pārśvá-nātha, occasionally spelled Parshvanath or Parswanath) was the twenty-third Tirthankara (fordmaker) in Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

. fl. ca. in the 9th century BCE, traditionally (877 – 777 BCE. He is the earliest Jain leader generally accepted as a historical figure. He was a nobleman belonging to the Kshatriya
Kshatriya
*For the Bollywood film of the same name see Kshatriya Kshatriya or Kashtriya, meaning warrior, is one of the four varnas in Hinduism...

 caste. He lived in Varanasi in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 around 800 BCE and is the most popular object of Jain devotion.

Demographics

The population of Varanasi urban agglomeration in 2001 was 1, 371, 749; the sex ratio was 879 females every 1000 males. As per 2011 census, population stands at 3, 138, 670. However, the area under Varanasi Nagar Nigam
Varanasi Nagar Nigam
Varanasi Nagar Nigam is the municipal corporation of the city of Varanasi in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh....

 has a population of 1, 100, 748 with the sex ratio being 883 females for every 1000 males. The literacy rate in the urban agglomeration is 77% while that in the municipal corporation area is 78%. Approximately 138, 000 people in the municipal area live in slums. The crime rate in the city in 2004 was 128.5 per 100, 000 which is higher than Uttar Pradesh rate of 73.2 but lower than the national rate of 168.8.

Transport

Varanasi is well connected by air, rail and road with the major Indian cities like New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

, Mumbai
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

, Kolkata
Kolkata
Kolkata , formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, it was the commercial capital of East India...

, Chennai
Chennai
Chennai , formerly known as Madras or Madarasapatinam , is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the fourth most populous metropolitan area and the sixth most populous city in India...

, Pune
Pune
Pune , is the eighth largest metropolis in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai, and the largest city in the Western Ghats. Once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire, it is situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau at the confluence of the Mula ...

, Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad also known as Karnavati is the largest city in Gujarat, India. It is the former capital of Gujarat and is also the judicial capital of Gujarat as the Gujarat High Court has its seat in Ahmedabad...

, Indore
Indore
Indore is one of the major city in India, the largest city and commercial center of the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Indore is located 190 km west of the state capital Bhopal. According to the 2011 Indian census, Indore city has a population of 1,960,631...

, Bhopal, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Ujjain
Ujjain
Ujjain , is an ancient city of Malwa region in central India, on the eastern bank of the Kshipra River , today part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is the administrative centre of Ujjain District and Ujjain Division.In ancient times the city was called Ujjayini...

, Jaipur
Jaipur
Jaipur , also popularly known as the Pink City, is the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan. Founded on 18 November 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, the city today has a population of more than 3.1 million....

, Patna
Patna
Paṭnā , is the capital of the Indian state of Bihar and the second largest city in Eastern India . Patna is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world...

, Secunderabad
Secunderabad
Secunderabad popularly known as the twin city of Hyderabad is located in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh north of Hyderabad. Named after Sikandar Jah, the third Nizam of the Asaf Jahi dynasty, Secunderabad was founded in 1806 AD as a British cantonment...

 etc.It is located at a distance of 776 km from Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

. It is located at a distance of 1240 km from Secunderabad
Secunderabad
Secunderabad popularly known as the twin city of Hyderabad is located in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh north of Hyderabad. Named after Sikandar Jah, the third Nizam of the Asaf Jahi dynasty, Secunderabad was founded in 1806 AD as a British cantonment...

.One of the major factors in Varanasi's sustained existence as an inhabited city is its role as an established transportation hub between different cities. Dating to the ancient times, the city was connected to cities like Azamgarh
Azamgarh
Azamgarh is a town in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is headquarters of Azamgarh district and Azamgarh Division.-History:Azamgarh, one of the easternmost districts of the State, once formed a part of the ancient Kosala kingdom, except the north-eastern part of it which was included in the...

, Taxila
Taxila
Taxila is a Tehsil in the Rawalpindi District of Punjab province of Pakistan. It is an important archaeological site.Taxila is situated about northwest of Islamabad Capital Territory and Rawalpindi in Panjab; just off the Grand Trunk Road...

, Ghazipur
Ghazipur
Ghazipur , or Ghazipur City, previously spelt Ghazeepore, is a city/town and a municipal corporation and headquarter of Ghazipur district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is the administrative headquarters of Ghazipur Division and Sub-division...

, Pataliputra
Patna
Paṭnā , is the capital of the Indian state of Bihar and the second largest city in Eastern India . Patna is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world...

, Vaishali
Vaishali (ancient city)
Vaiśālī was the capital city of the Licchavi, one of world's first republics, in the Vajjian Confederacy mahajanapada, around the 6th century BC. It was here in 599 BCE the 24th Jain Tirthankara, Bhagwan Mahavira was born and brought up in Kundalagrama in Vaiśālī republic, which make pious &...

, Ayodhya, Gorakhpur
Gorakhpur
Gorakhpur is a city in the eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, near the border with Nepal. It is the administrative headquarters of Gorakhpur District and Gorakhpur Division. Gorakhpur is one of the proposed capitals of the Purvanchal state which is yet to be formed...

, Agra
Agra
Agra a.k.a. Akbarabad is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, west of state capital, Lucknow and south from national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 , it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most...

 etc.

Air

Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport
Varanasi Airport
Varanasi Airport also known as Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport is a public airport located northwest of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. Varanasi Airport was officially renamed as Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport in October 2005....

 commonly known as Babatpur Airport is located at a distance of 21 km from Varanasi Cant Station.

All the major domestic Indian carriers including Air India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Spicejet, and international carriers like Air India, Mihin Lanka, Thai Airways International, and Naaz Airlines operate from here. The Airport handled more than 3.50 lakh passengers per year.

A new terminal catering to both domestic and international passengers opened in 2010 on 150 acre (0.607029 km²) of land adjacent to the airport. The old terminal building could handle only about 200 domestic passengers at any given time, but the new terminal building can handle 1, 000 passengers and will have parking for 500 vehicles.

Haj Flights

Haj Flights started operating from Varanasi in 2007. About 5000 Haj pilgrims from various districts of eastern U.P. board flights here. Saudi Arabia based Nas Airlines operated direct flights from Varanasi to Medinah in 2010.

Rail

Varanasi Junction
Varanasi Junction
Varanasi Junction, popularly known as Varanasi Cant Railway Station is the major rail hub in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the most busiest stations in India.-Overview:...

 commonly known as Varanasi Cantt Railway Station, is the major rail and one of the most busiest stations in India. The station records a rush of more than 1.5 lakh passengers and more than 230 trains passing through here on a daily basis. It is partly under the administrative control of Lucknow Division of the Northern Railway Zone, and partly under the administrative control of Varanasi Division of North Eastern Railway Zone of the Indian Railways. Railway Minister Miss Mamata Bannerjee has included Varanasi Cant in World-Class Railway Stations development project.

The first railway line to Benares was opened from Howrah in December 1862 and was built by the East Indian Railway Company. The station was build on right bank of the Ganges. Later in 1872, Oudh & Rohilkund Railway Company opened rail line from Benaras to Lucknow. In 1887, Dufferin Bridge was constructed over the Ganga at Benares allowing trains to go to Mughalsarai.

Mughal Sarai Junction of East Central Railway is another major railway station 8 km from the city limit (16 km from Varanasi Cant Station). At Mughal Sarai Junction, two most important railway lines meet : 1. Main Line (Delhi-Allahabad-Patna-Howrah) and 2) Grand Cord (Delhi-Moradabad-Lucknow-Varanasi-Gaya-Howrah). A large number of trains are available here, particularly to eastern India.

Manduadeeh is another rail terminal at a distance of 4 km from Varanasi Cant Station. Trains of North Eastern Railway originate from this station. It is under the administrative control of Varanasi Division of NE Railway.

Other important railway stations in the city are Varanasi City, Kashi, Sarnath, Shivpur, Bhulanpur and Babatpur.

Road

In ancient times, the city was connected by a road starting from Taxila and ending at Pataliputra during the Mauryan Empire. This road was later renovated and extended from Kolkata to Peshwar by Emperor Sher Shah Suri during the 16th century and later during the British Raj came to be known as the famous Grand Trunk Road
Grand Trunk Road
The Grand Trunk Road also formerly known as Uttarapatha, Shah Rah-e-Azam or Sadak-e-Azam or Badshahi Sadak is one of South Asia's oldest and longest major roads...

.

The G.T. Road is know known as NH 2 between Kolkata and Kanpur. NH 2 further extends to Delhi via Agra. NH 56 connects Varanasi to Lucknow via Jaunpur, Sultanpur; and NH 29 connects Varanasi to Gorakhpur via Ghazipur. NH 7 which is the longest National Highway in India connects Varanasi with the cities of Jabalpur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Salem, Madurai and Kanyakumari.

SH 87 links Varanasi to Bhadohi, the carpet city; and SH 5A connects Varanasi to Shaktinagar.

Public transport

Auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are the most widely available public transport
Public transport
Public transport is a shared passenger transportation service which is available for use by the general public, as distinct from modes such as taxicab, car pooling or hired buses which are not shared by strangers without private arrangement.Public transport modes include buses, trolleybuses, trams...

 within old city. In outer regions of the city, city-buses are common. Taxi is also available. Prepaid Auto cum Taxi Booth is there at Cant Railway Station and Babatpur Airport. Small boats and small steamers are available for tourists in Ganges. Recently, High tech city buses are introduced in the city under JNNURM scheme.

In popular culture

  • The film Banaras - A Mystic Love Story
    Banaras - A Mystic Love Story
    Banaras: A Mystic Love Story is the name of an Indian Bollywood film directed by Pankaj Parashar released in 2006. The film takes place in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi and is centered around the relationship of a young woman with her parents and her lover...

    (2006), is based on Varanasi's history, and its role in Indian tradition.
  • In Kurt Weill
    Kurt Weill
    Kurt Julian Weill was a German-Jewish composer, active from the 1920s, and in his later years in the United States. He was a leading composer for the stage who was best known for his fruitful collaborations with Bertolt Brecht...

    's "Benares Song" in the opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
    Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
    Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny is a political-satirical opera composed by Kurt Weill to a German libretto by Bertolt Brecht. It was first performed in Leipzig on 9 March 1930.-Composition history:...

    .
  • Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay
    Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay
    Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay was one of the most famous Bengali novelist and writer of modern Bengali literature...

    's seminal Bengali
    Bengali language
    Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

     novel, Aparajito
    Aparajito
    Aparajito is a 1956 Bengali film directed by Satyajit Ray, and is the second part of The Apu Trilogy. It is adapted from the last one-fifth of Bibhutibhushan Bannerjee's novel Pather Panchali and the first one-third of its sequel Aparajito. It focuses on the life of Apu from childhood to college...

    , was partly set in Benaras, which was further immortalised by Satyajit Ray
    Satyajit Ray
    Satyajit Ray was an Indian Bengali filmmaker. He is regarded as one of the greatest auteurs of 20th century cinema. Ray was born in the city of Kolkata into a Bengali family prominent in the world of arts and literature...

     in his Apu Trilogy. A part of the film was shot in Varanasi.
  • Ian McDonald
    Ian McDonald (author)
    Ian McDonald is a British science fiction novelist, living in Belfast. His themes include nanotechnology, postcyberpunk settings, and the impact of rapid social and technological change on non-Western societies.- Biography :...

    's novel River of Gods
    River of Gods
    River of Gods is a science fiction novel by Ian McDonald. It depicts a futuristic India in 2047, a century after its independence from Britain, inhabited by ancient traditions as well as artificial intelligences, robots and nanotechnology....

    is partly set in Varanasi.
  • Satyajit Ray's Joi Baba Felunath
    Joi Baba Felunath
    Joi Baba Felunath is a 1979 film by Bengali director Satyajit Ray, featuring the actors Soumitra Chatterjee, Santosh Dutta, Siddartha Chatterjee, Utpal Dutt among others.The film is based on the famous Feluda novel of the same name written by Ray....

    was almost entirely set in Varanasi.
  • B Gopal released 2002 Indra
    Indra
    ' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

    was almost set in Varanasi.
  • Song Khaike Paan Banaraswala from the 1978 hit film Don
    Don (1978 film)
    Don is a 1978 Indian action film, produced by Nariman Irani and directed by Chandra Barot, with music by Kalyanji Anandji and lyrics by Anjaan. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Pran, Iftekhar, Helen and Om Shivpuri, Satyen Kappu and Pinchoo Kapoor. It was the third-highest grossing...

     starring Amitabh Bachchan
    Amitabh Bachchan
    Amitabh Bachchan is an Indian film actor. He first gained popularity in the early 1970s as the "angry young man" of Hindi cinema, and has since appeared in over 180 Indian films in a career spanning more than four decades...

     sang praises of the flavorful Banarasi paan.
  • In the composition by Pandit Vikash Maharaj
    Vikash Maharaj
    Pandit Vikash Maharaj is a Hindustani musician known for his performances on the Sarod.He is son of great Tabla player Pandit Nanhku Maharaj and nephew of Pandit Kishan Maharaj. He started his early education from Pandit Rajesh Chandra Moitra, a disciple of Ustad Baba Allauddin Khan Saheb and...

     called "Ganga" the documentary film called Holiwater.
  • In a song by Krishna Das entitled "Kashi Vishwanath Gange" on the CD Breath of the heart.
  • Geoff Dyer
    Geoff Dyer
    Geoff Dyer is a British author and novelist. He is also a journalist who writes about a wide range of topics. His published work includes four novels and several books of non-fiction, which have won a number of literary awards...

    's 2009 book: Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is (as the name suggests) half set in Varanasi.
  • Vijay Singh's novel Jaya Ganga, In Search of the River Goddess and classic film Jaya Ganga
    Jaya Ganga
    Jaya Ganga is an international film made by Paris-based Indian writer, film maker and screenplay writer Vijay Singh.The film stars Asil Rais and Smriti Mishra as leads....

    is partly set in Varanasi. See excerpts with shots of the ghats
  • The film Naan Kadavul
    Naan Kadavul
    Naan Kadavul is a 2009 Indian Tamil film co-written and directed by Bala, based on the Tamil novel Yezhaam Ulagam by Jayamohan who also penned the dialogues for the film. The film stars Arya and Pooja in the lead roles...

    (2009) depicts its protagonist as an Aghori
    Aghori
    The Aghori or Aghora are a Hindu sect believed to have split off from the Kapalika order in the fourteenth century AD. Many mainstream Hindus condemn them as non-Hindu because of their taboo violation of orthodox practices...

     in Varanasi.
  • The film Water (2005 film) explores the lives of widows at an ashram in Varanasi, India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

    . This film was originally planned to be set in Varanasi but due to public opposition, the film was finally shot in Sri Lanka.
  • The film Bunty Aur Babli
    Bunty Aur Babli
    Bunty Aur Babli , released in 2005, is an Indian Bollywood film directed by Shaad Ali and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Rani Mukerji and Abhishek Bachchan. It was the first film to feature both Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhishek Bachchan, and featured guest appearances by Aishwarya Rai and Tania...

     was partly set in Varanasi
  • The film Ghatak: Lethal
    Ghatak: Lethal
    Ghatak: Lethal is a 1996 Bollywood action film directed by Rajkumar Santoshi. The film stars Sunny Deol, Meenakshi Sheshadri and Danny Denzongpa in pivotal roles. This was Meenakshi Sheshadari's last movie till date.-Plot:...

     was partly set in Varanasi
  • The novel Deep River
    Deep River (novel)
    is a novel by Shusaku Endo published in 1993. When he died in 1996, only two novels were chosen to be placed inside his coffin. Deep River was one of them.-Plot summary:...

     by Shusaku Endo
    Shusaku Endo
    Shūsaku Endō was a 20th-century Japanese author who wrote from the unusual perspective of being both Japanese and Catholic...

    , about a group of Japanese pilgrims travelling to India, was partly set in Varanasi

  • The novel Revolution 2020: Love, Corruption, Ambition by Chetan Bhagat
    Chetan Bhagat
    Chetan Bhagat , is an Indian author, columnist, and speaker. Bhagat is the author of five bestselling novels, Five Point Someone , One Night @ the Call Center , The 3 Mistakes of My Life , 2 States & Revolution 2020: Love, Corruption, Ambition...

     is set in Varanasi and Kota
    Kota, Rajasthan
    Kota , formerly known as Kotah, is a city in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan. It is located south of state capital, Jaipur. Situated on the banks of Chambal River, the city is the trade centre for an area in which millet, wheat, rice, pulses, coriander and oilseeds are grown; industries...

    .

Media

In the 1898 book Following the Equator
Following the Equator
Following the Equator or More Tramps Abroad is a non-fiction travelogue published by American author Mark Twain in 1897....

, American writer Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

 wrote about his visit to Varanasi saying that "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together."

Notable residents

  • Premchand, famous Hindi
    Hindi
    Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

     writer
    Writer
    A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

  • Madan Mohan Malaviya
    Madan Mohan Malaviya
    Madan Mohan Malaviya was an Indian educationist, and freedom fighter notable for his role in the Indian independence movement and his espousal of Hindu nationalism...

    , Founder of the Banaras Hindu University
    Banaras Hindu University
    Banaras Hindu University is a public university located in Varanasi, India and is one of the Central Universities of India. It is the largest residential university in Asia, with over 24,000 students in its campus. BHU was founded in 1916 by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya under the Parliamentary...

  • Lal Bahadur Shastri
    Lal Bahadur Shastri
    Lal Bahadur Srivastava Shastri was the second Prime Minister of the Republic of India and a significant figure in the Indian independence movement.-Early life:...

    , Former Prime Minister of India
    Prime Minister of India
    The Prime Minister of India , as addressed to in the Constitution of India — Prime Minister for the Union, is the chief of government, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in parliament...

  • Bismillah Khan
    Bismillah Khan
    Ustad Bismillah Khan was an Indian shehnai maestro. He was the third classical musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna , the highest civilian honour in India and gained worldwide acclaim for playing the shehnai for more than eight decades....

    , Shehnai
    Shehnai
    The shehnai, shahnai, shenai or mangal vadya, is an aerophonic instrument, a double reed conical oboe, common in North India, West India and Pakistan, made out of wood, with a metal flare bell at the end...

     player, Bharat Ratna
    Bharat Ratna
    Bharat Ratna is the Republic of India's highest civilian award, awarded for the highest degrees of national service. This service includes artistic, literary, and scientific achievements, as well as "recognition of public service of the highest order." Unlike knights, holders of the Bharat Ratna...

  • Channulal Mishra, Hindustani Classical player, Padma Bhushan
    Padma Bhushan
    The Padma Bhushan is the third highest civilian award in the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan, but comes before the Padma Shri. It is awarded by the Government of India.-History:...

  • Kishan Maharaj
    Kishan Maharaj
    Pandit Kishan Maharaj was an Indian tabla player who belonged to the Benares gharana of Hindustani classical music.-Early life and background:...

    , Tabla
    Tabla
    The tabla is a popular Indian percussion instrument used in Hindustani classical music and in popular and devotional music of the Indian subcontinent. The instrument consists of a pair of hand drums of contrasting sizes and timbres...

     player, Padma Vibhushan
    Padma Vibhushan
    The Padma Vibhushan is the second highest civilian award in the Republic of India. It consists of a medal and a citation and is awarded by the President of India. It was established on 2 January 1954. It ranks behind the Bharat Ratna and comes before the Padma Bhushan...

  • Ravi Shankar
    Ravi Shankar
    Ravi Shankar , often referred to by the title Pandit, is an Indian musician and composer who plays the plucked string instrument sitar. He has been described as the best known contemporary Indian musician by Hans Neuhoff in Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.Shankar was born in Varanasi and spent...

    , Sitar
    Sitar
    The 'Tablaman' is a plucked stringed instrument predominantly used in Hindustani classical music, where it has been ubiquitous since the Middle Ages...

     player, Bharat Ratna
    Bharat Ratna
    Bharat Ratna is the Republic of India's highest civilian award, awarded for the highest degrees of national service. This service includes artistic, literary, and scientific achievements, as well as "recognition of public service of the highest order." Unlike knights, holders of the Bharat Ratna...

  • Siddheshwari Devi
    Siddheshwari Devi
    Siddheswari Devi was a Hindustani singer from Varanasi, India, known as Maa . Born in 1907, she lost her parents early and was brought up by her aunt, the noted singer Rajeshwari Devi.-Initiation into Music:...

    , Khayal singer
  • Vikash Maharaj
    Vikash Maharaj
    Pandit Vikash Maharaj is a Hindustani musician known for his performances on the Sarod.He is son of great Tabla player Pandit Nanhku Maharaj and nephew of Pandit Kishan Maharaj. He started his early education from Pandit Rajesh Chandra Moitra, a disciple of Ustad Baba Allauddin Khan Saheb and...

    , Sarod
    Sarod
    The sarod is a stringed musical instrument, used mainly in Indian classical music. Along with the sitar, it is the most popular and prominent instrument in the classical music of Hindustan...

     Maestro
  • Naina Devi
    Naina Devi
    Naina Devi is a town and a municipal council in Bilaspur district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.-Demographics:As of the 2001 India census, Naina Devi had a population of 1161. Males constitute 63% of the population and females 37%. Naina Devi has an average literacy rate of 81%, higher...

    , Khayal singer
  • Bhagwan Das
    Bhagwan Das
    Bhagwan Das was an Indian theosophist and public figure. For a time he served in the Central Legislative Assembly of British India. He became allied with the Hindustani Culture Society and was active in opposing rioting as a form of protest...

    , Bharat Ratna
    Bharat Ratna
    Bharat Ratna is the Republic of India's highest civilian award, awarded for the highest degrees of national service. This service includes artistic, literary, and scientific achievements, as well as "recognition of public service of the highest order." Unlike knights, holders of the Bharat Ratna...

  • Sameer, Lyricist
  • Pandit Birju Maharaj
  • Girija Devi
    Girija Devi
    Girija Devi is an Indian classical singer of the Banaras gharana. She performs classical and light classical music and has helped elevate the profile of thumri.-Early life:Girija Devi was born in Varanasi, India in 1929...

    , Padma Bhushan
    Padma Bhushan
    The Padma Bhushan is the third highest civilian award in the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan, but comes before the Padma Shri. It is awarded by the Government of India.-History:...

  • Sitara Devi
    Sitara Devi
    Sitara Devi is an eminent Indian dancer of the classical Kathak style of dancing. When she was in her teens, Rabindranath Tagore, after watching a performance by her described her as Nritya Samragini, meaning, the empress of dance...

  • Rani Lakshmibai
    Rani Lakshmibai
    Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi was the queen of the Maratha-ruled princely state of Jhansi, situated in the northern part of India...

    ,
  • Kabir Das
  • Tulsi Das
  • Ravidas
  • Bharatendu Harishchandra
    Bharatendu Harishchandra
    Bharatendu Harishchandra is known as the father of modern Hindi literature as well as Hindi theatre. He is considered one of the greatest Hindi writers of modern India. A recognized poet, he was also a trend setter in Hindi prose-writing...

  • Shamta Prasad (Gudai Maharaj) Tabla player, Padma Shri
    Padma Shri
    Padma Shri is the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan...

  • Jaishankar Prasad
    Jaishankar Prasad
    Jaishankar Prasad , one of the most famous figures in modern Hindi literature as well as Hindi theatre.- Biography :...

  • Kashi Naresh, last king of Varanasi
  • Devendra Nath Dwivedi
    Devendra Nath Dwivedi
    Devendra Nath Dwivedi was an Indian politician and the Governor designate of Gujarat. He was a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha from 1974 to 1980. He died on August 1, 2009 aged 74, before he could formally take up the post of Gujurat's Governor.-References:...

    , was an Indian politician and the Governor designate of Gujarat. He has been General Secretary of AICC, Additional Solicitor General of India & Supreme Court Lawyer. He was a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha from 1974 to 1980.
  • Kamalapati Tripathi
    Kamalapati Tripathi
    Kamalapati Tripathi , the writer, journalist, editor and freedom fighter was a senior Indian National Congress leader from Varanasi. He served as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh as well as the Union Minister for Railways....

    , was the writer, journalist, editor and freedom fighter was a senior Indian National Congress leader from Varanasi. He has been Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh as well as the Union Minister for Railways.
  • Baldev Upadhyaya
    Baldev Upadhyaya
    Pandit Baldev Upadhyaya was a renowned Hindi, Sanskrit scholar, literary historian, essayist and critic. He penned numerous books, collections of essays and a historical outline of Sanskrit literature. He is noted for discussing Sanskrit literature in the Hindi language...

    , was a renowned Hindi, Sanskrit scholar, literary historian, essayist and critic.

See also

  • Kashi Mutt
    Kashi Mutt
    Kashi Math is one of the four spiritual schools followed by the Goud Saraswat Brahmins. Members of the Goud Saraswat community predominantly live along the west coast of India, from Mumbai in the north to Kerala in the south. Other Maths followed by Goud Saraswat Brahmins are Gokarna Math , Shri...

  • List of significant religious sites
  • Old Durga Mandir
    Durga Mandir
    The Durga Mandir is situated in Ramnagar of Banaras . It is believed that it was built 500 years ago which is under control of royal family of Banaras State currently. This temple is devoted to Hindu deity Durga. The temple has a large stone built pond with it...

  • Vishnu Sarma
    Vishnu Sarma
    Vishnu Sharma was an Indian scholar and author who is believed to have written the Panchatantra collection of fables. The exact period of the composition of the Panchatantra is uncertain, and estimates vary from 1200 BCE to 300 CE...

    , author of the Panchatantra
    Panchatantra
    The Panchatantra is an ancient Indian inter-related collection of animal fables in verse and prose, in a frame story format. The original Sanskrit work, which some scholars believe was composed in the 3rd century BCE, is attributed to Vishnu Sharma...

  • Manikarnika Ghat
    Manikarnika Ghat
    Manikarnika Ghat is one of the ghats in Varanasi and is most known for being a place of Hindu cremation.-History:It is one of the oldest ghats in Varanasi.-Significance:...

  • Sue Manteris
    Sue Manteris
    Sue Manteris , is a former TV news anchor at the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas, KSNV-DT. She was born on June 20, 1962 in Varanasi, India....

     - US News anchor who was born in Varanasi

External links

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