The name Varanasi itself is interpreted to be derived from combination of ‘Varuna’ and ‘Asi’ on the name of rivers. The Varuna river is a minor tributary of the gigantic Ganga river, which is named after the god Varuna, the god of water. Asi, a small stream near Assi Ghat.
Varanasi, also known as Benares,Banaras, or Kashi, is a city on the banks of the Ganges in the Uttar Pradesh state of North India, 320 kilometres (200 mi) south-east of the state capital, Lucknow, and 121 kilometres (75 mi) east of Allahabad.
The land of Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Often referred to as Benares, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world. These few lines by Mark Twain say it all:
“Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together“.
Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the origins of Varanasi are yet unknown. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals.
Ganges is said to have its origins in the tresses of Lord Shiva and in Varanasi, it expands to the mighty river that we know of. The city is a center of learning and civilization for over 3000 years. With Sarnath, the place where Buddha preached his first sermon after enlightenment, just 10 km away, Varanasi has been a symbol of Hindu renaissance. Knowledge, philosophy, culture, devotion to Gods, Indian arts and crafts have all flourished here for centuries. Also a pilgrimage place for Jains, Varanasi is believed to be the birthplace of Parsvanath, the twenty-third Tirthankar.
Arts & Culture
The art and culture of Varanasi is unique. It is the rich cultural tradition of Varanasi that makes it the cultural capital of India. A combination of archaeology, mythology, geography, art and history makes Varanasi a great center of Indian culture. Though Varanasi is associated mainly with Hinduism and Buddhism but one can find glimpse of many religious beliefs, types of worship and religious institutions at Varanasi. It is amazing to see the primitive worship cults being practiced at Varanasi.
History of Varanasi
According to legend, Varanasi was founded by the god Shiva. There happened a fight between the two supreme gods, Brahma and Shiva, and the succeeding combat resulted in one of the four heads of Brahma being torn off by Shiva.
It was a custom of the time that the victor carried the slain adversary’s head in his hand and let it hang down from his hand as an act of ignominy and a sign of his own bravery. A bridle was also put into the mouth. Shiva thus dishonored Brahma’s head, and kept it with him at all times. When he came to the city of Varanasi in this state, the hanging head of Brahma dropped from Shiva’s hand and disappeared in the ground. The land of Varanasi is therefore considered an extremely holy religious site
Some important facts you should know about the varanasi
- Varanasi is the home of Tulsi Das where Ramcharitmanas was composed by him. In his memory here is a temple named Tulsi Manas Temple and also a Ghat named Tulsi Ghat.
- The name “Varanasi” taken from the name of the rivers Varuna and Asi which confluence here in this city.
- During the Mauryan age, Varanasi used to make a connection with the Taxila to Pataliputra road recently known as Grand Trunk Road.
- It is the city where Lord Buddha preached his first ceremon after his enlightenment. Currently, it is known as Sarnath.
- Varanasi is known as the holy city of Benares or Kashi for ancient which was the “City of Light”.
- Recently, It is known for the most sacred city in the world where millions of visitors visit for taking a sacred bath in Ganga River.
- Varanasi (Kashi) was the home of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and it is believed that if one dead here or buried after death, he would be attain salvation. There are Harishchand Ghat & Manikarnika Ghat where lots of dead body daily buried.
- Millions of pilgrims arrive from all over the world on the occasion of Makara Sankranti and Maha Shivratri to wash away their sins.
- On the other hand, it is major learning and cultural center besides being an religious city till now days from ancient. The Banaras Hindu University in the city is the main source of education for many countries students.
- It is the city where Ayurveda and Yoga was taken the major place for ancient.
- From old ages, it is become the center of trade and commerce. It is famous for Banarasi silks, silver and gold brocades from years ago.
- It is also the home of the brilliant writer Munshi Prem Chand who earned a great name in Hindi literature. The great poet Kabir Das, Ravi das also stay in Varanasi like as the home.
- Besides of Kashi and Banaras, this city was also called Mahasmasana, Brahma Vardha, Ramya, Sudarsana and many others.
- The Benarasi Saree is also word famous.