Varanasi, India – WorldAtlas

India (formally, the Republic of India) is the world’s 2nd most populous and the 7th largest nation that occupies a land space of three,287,263 sq. km. This South Asian Nation is bounded by the Bay of Bengal within the southeast; the Indian Ocean within the south and the Arabian Sea within the southwest. India additionally shares its land borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

India is a land of historical civilizations. The Indus Valley Civilization flourished right here from 2,500 to 1,900 BCE. Throughout the early 2nd millennium BCE, the Indo-Aryan tribes migrated to India. The Vedas – the oldest scriptures of Hinduism had been composed throughout the Vedic Interval from 1500 to 500 BCE.

Varanasi tourist
A vacationer meditating on a ship within the Ganges river flowing previous town of Varanasi.

India additionally hosts a few of the most historical city facilities which can be presently termed ‘cities’. These historical Indian cities had been thought-about to be one of many world’s most affluent cities throughout that point. These historical city settlements additionally served as facilities for studying, tradition, arts, and many others., for hundreds of years. Situated on the left banks of the holy Ganges River, within the southeastern a part of the north Indian State of Uttar Pradesh is Varanasi (additionally, Benares/ Kashi) – one of many oldest cities in India and likewise one of many oldest repeatedly inhabited cities on the earth. 



Uttar Pradesh map
Map exhibiting the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (in purple), The state hosts town of Varanasi.

The town of Varanasi is situated within the coronary heart of North India’s Ganges Valley about 797km southeast of the nation’s capital New Delhi; 121km east of town of Allahabad/Prayagraj; 320km southeast of the state capital metropolis of Lucknow and 63km south of town of Jaunpur. The town is positioned between two small streams that stream into the river Ganges. The Varana/Varuna flows within the northern a part of town, whereas the Assi flows within the southern a part of town, giving town its identify ‘Varanasi’.

Varanasi map
Map exhibiting the placement of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Editorial credit score: Awesome_art_Creation /

In Varanasi, the course of the River Ganges in direction of the Bay of Bengal all of a sudden turns to the north. All through its course from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it’s only in Varanasi that the River Ganga flows in a crescent form from south to north. Symbolically, this stream of the river from south to north thus refers back to the stream of the life cycle from the realm of dying to the realm of life. This distinctive change of course within the river’s course ultimately led to the event of this historical metropolis on the west banks of the holy Ganges River.

ganges in varanasi
The Holy Ganges River flowing previous town of Varanasi. Editorial credit score: Sunil prajapati /

Based on the Köppen local weather classification, town experiences a ‘humid subtropical local weather’. The common temperature throughout the dry, scorching summer season months ranges between 22 to 46°C. Winters are comparatively a lot cooler. The monsoon season is from July to October and town receives a mean annual rainfall of 1,110mm.

Varanasi people
A boy dressed up because the Hindu God, Lord Shiva, within the Ghats of Varanasi. Editorial credit score: Vinayak Jagtap /

Hailed as town of Lord Shiva, Varanasi is taken into account to be the holiest amongst all of the seven holiest cities of Hinduism and attracts quite a few pilgrims from throughout the nation yearly. Hundreds of worldwide vacationers additionally go to this historical metropolis yearly to expertise its tradition, historical past, structure, to hunt solace, and to find the true which means of life. Hindus consider that those that die and are cremated right here, obtain an on the spot gateway to ‘moksha’ from the cycle of beginning and rebirths.

The traditional Hindu textual content of Rigveda refers back to the metropolis of Varanasi by the identify of ‘Kashi’. The phrase ‘Kashi’ has been derived from the Sanskrit phrase ‘kaś’ which suggests “to shine”. Therefore, town can also be popularly often known as the “Metropolis of Mild”. Throughout British rule, the identify of town was anglicized as ‘Benares’.

Transient Historical past

Based on Hindu Mythology, town of Varanasi was based by Lord Shiva. Because the legend goes, Shiva fought with Brahma – one other principal Hindu deity and severed one in every of Brahma’s 5 heads. Hanging the severed head of Brahma, Shiva carried it and dropped the pinnacle at Varanasi. Due to this fact, Hindus consider that with the contact of each Shiva and Brahma, Varanasi grew to become a holy web site. It is usually believed that the Pandavas additionally visited this holy metropolis looking for Shiva and to atone for the sin that they had dedicated throughout the famed Kurukshetra warfare.

Varanasi handlooms
A Muslim man weaving the world well-known Banarasi saree in Varanasi. These sarees are worn by Indian girls on particular events, particularly throughout marriages. Editorial credit score: clickedbynishant /

The traditional metropolis of Varanasi was situated on the northern facet of the current metropolis in an space often known as Rajghat, the place archaeological excavations have revealed the remnants of a metropolis wall, and artifacts courting so far as 800BCE. Varanasi ultimately began to develop as a significant industrial middle and was broadly recognized for its sculptures, perfumes, muslin, and different silk materials and ivory works. Varanasi fashioned part of the Kingdom of Kashi throughout the time of Gautama Buddha. It’s believed that Buddha had discovered Buddhism right here in 528 BCE and gave his first sermon at Sarnath, which is located about 10km to the northeast of town of Varanasi.

Sarnath varanasi
Buddhist monks at Sarnath, a Buddhist pilgrimage web site in Varanasi. It’s mentioned Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon to his disciples on the web site.

The well-known Chinese language traveler – Xuanzang, visited Varanasi in 635BCE and described that the place served as an essential middle for inventive and non secular actions. Because of the massive variety of temples within the metropolis, Xuanzang named it “Polonise”. Varanasi was dominated by many Indian dynasties through the years. For a number of centuries, town has served as the house of quite a few famend saints, philosophers, writers, artists, and musicians. The Father of Conventional Indian Drugs – Dhanvantari served as one of many earliest kings of this nice metropolis. The traditional Indian thinker Adi Shankaracharya established the worship of Shiva in Varanasi within the 8th century and town began rising as a web site of pilgrimage and by the 12th century, town grew to become essentially the most revered holy middle for the Hindus. The Jain literature refers back to the metropolis of Banaras as a “Jain Tirtha” as two Jain Tirthankaras had been born and raised right here. The founding father of Sikhism – Guru Nanak additionally visited Varanasi throughout the pageant of Maha Shivaratri in 1507.

Varanasi pilgrims
Hindu pilgrims bathing within the waters of the Ganges as a part of a holy ritual. Editorial credit score: CherylRamalho /

Within the 16th century, Varanasi underwent a ‘Hindu cultural revival’ below the patronage of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, who’s believed to have funded the development of two main Hindu temples. The famed Annapurna Mandir was established by the Raja of Pune. Nevertheless, in 1656, town suffered a significant setback when Emperor Aurangzeb ordered the destruction of the temples and the development of mosques. A significant a part of the trendy metropolis was constructed throughout the 18th century by the Bhumihar Brahmin and Maratha rulers. In 1737, the Kingdom of Benares was granted official standing by the Mughals. The area was ceded by the Nawab of Oudh to the East India Firm in 1775. In 1911, Benares was acknowledged as a ‘princely state’. After Indian Independence, the princely state of Benares joined the Indian Union and have become part of the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh.

Main Points of interest

Varanasi food
Varanasi is legendary for lassi, a scrumptious drink product of curd and sugar and garnished with dry fruits and saffron. 

Varanasi is sometimes called the ‘Non secular Capital of India’. Presently, town homes round 3,000 temples and 84 riverfront ghats. Among the main sights of Varanasi have been mentioned on this article.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

This most well-known Hindu temple is situated on the western banks of the Ganges within the Vishwanath Gali of town of Varanasi. The Temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and homes essentially the most revered jyotirlinga. The temple attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims yearly from throughout the nation. The Annapurna Temple situated close to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is devoted to Devi Annapoorna – the Goddess of Meals.

Ghats of Varanasi

As talked about earlier, there are about 84 riverfront ghats within the metropolis. These ghats cowl a complete size of about 6.8km alongside the banks of the River Ganges from its confluence with the Assi stream within the south to its confluence with the Varuna River within the north. The ghats are principally used for bathing within the holy Ganges, for providing prayers, or for the cremation of useless our bodies. Among the well-known ghats of Varanasi embody the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat, the Jain Ghat, the Harishchandra Ghat, the Panchganga Ghat, and many others.

The Dashashwamedh Ghat

Hindu clergymen performing a non secular ceremony within the Dashashwamedh Ghat alongside the Ganges.

The Dashashwamedh Ghat is taken into account to be the oldest and principal ghat of Varanasi. The Ghat is believed to have been created by Brahma to welcome Shiva. Brahma additionally carried out the Dasa-Ashwamedha yajna and sacrificed ten horses. Particular aartis are held right here each Tuesday and through non secular festivals. The Manikarnika Ghat situated close to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is revered as a Shakti Peetha as it’s believed to be the positioning the place Devi Sati’s earrings fell. The Ghat can also be used for cremations. The Jain Ghat is revered because the birthplace of the 7th and the 23rd Jain Tirthankaras. Three Jain temples are situated right here. The vacationers visiting these ghats can expertise and witness the Hindu non secular rituals from an in depth distance. The religious expertise makes the Ghats of Varanasi a revered place to go to.  

Ramnagar Fort

Ramnagar Fort
Ramnagar Fort. Editorial credit score: AnilD /

Situated on the japanese banks of the Ganges River is the Ramnagar Fort, which was in-built 1750 by the Kashi Naresh – Raja Balwant Singh. The fort was constructed with chunar sandstone and follows the Mughal model of structure that includes scenic pavilions, carved balconies, and open courtyards.

Banaras Hindu College

Benares Hindu University
Major entrance gate of the Banaras Hindu College in Varanasi. Editorial credit score: arun sambhu mishra /

Varanasi has been revered as a middle for studying by means of the ages. On February 4, 1916, the Banaras Hindu College was collectively established by Madan Mohan Malviya, Maharaja of Darbhanga, Maharaja of Banaras, Rameshwar Singh, Sunder Lal, and Annie Besant. It’s thought-about Asia’s largest residential college.

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