One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and most likely the oldest in India, the holy city of Varanasi is situated on the banks of the River Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important place of worship by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. It is also known as Benaras or Banaras or Kashi. The name Varanasi has its origin from the names of two rivers Varuna and Assi which forms the northern boundaries of the city of Varanasi.
Varanasi is the heart and spirit of Sanatan Dharma with a long tradition of classical culture and glorified by myth and legends from time immemorial. What Jerusalem is for the Jews, Christians and Muslims, Varanasi is for the Indians. Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience to tourists and pilgrims from across the world. To be in Varanasi is a life time experience of self–discovering an eternal oneness of the body and soul. The rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges, the high-banks, the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue soul stirring hymns and mantras along with the fragrance of incense filling the air and the refreshing dip in the holy waters gently splashing at the Ghats. Varanasi – the land where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss.
Varanasi is renowned for its rich heritage of culture, music, arts & crafts and education. The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years. People often refer to Varanasi as the religious capital of India and the city of learning. The Benares Gharana form of the Indian classical music developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians resided or reside in Varanasi. Luminaries apart, Varanasi abounds in the art of silk weaving, an exotic work of art which manifests itself in precious Banarasi Silk Sarees and Silk brocades which are cherished as collector’s items across the world today.
Mark Twain, who was fascinated by the sanctity of Benaras or Varanasi, said “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”.