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Varanasi is believed to be the oldest Cory in the world. The famous English author Mark Twain has even called it 'older than history'. wikimedia

By Prakhar Patidar

We know Varanasi aka Banaras for its temples, religiosity, and ghats. For ages, the city has been an important Hindu pilgrimage site, one of the holy seven. Many wish to have their final rights done one the ghats of Ganga at Varanasi to attain moksha.

Varanasi is believed to be one of the oldest city in the world. The famous English author Mark Twain has even called it 'older than history'. Just like Varanasi is a city of multiple names: Banaras, Kashi, it is a city of many layers that overlap over one another to give Varanasi its historic cultural identity.

In Hinduism, Kashi is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva and Parvati lived. What is holier than a place known to have been the home of one of the most powerful and worshiped gods of Hinduism? The legend says that this is the place Shiva directed Ganga from the heavens to the Earth.

Not only in Hinduism, Varanasi also holds religious importance in Buddhism. Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath which is only a few kilometers from Varanasi. There is mysticism in the air of the city as it is the hub for religion, spirituality, philosophy, and ancient knowledge.

View of Ghats across the Ganges, Varanasi.wikimedia Commons

The earliest records of the place can be found in Hindu religious texts: Upanishads. Originally it was known as Banaras and eventually got the name Varanasi. The city has also been a hub of arts and culture. Many great literary figures have birthed in the city or have been fascinated by its magic. Not only literature, but Varanasi also has had an impact on the course Indian music has taken.

Varanasi hasn't yet been listed in UNESCO'S heritage cities but it is of umpteen value to the Indian consciousness. The city however graces another UNESCO list that recognizes cities that have had an influence on world music. Varanasi has always been a center for education and that legacy is continued through Banaras Hindu University, Asia's largest university.

Keywords: Varanasi, Hindu city, UP, India, Heritage cities, UNESCO


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