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Varanasi Tourism

OVERVIEW

Varanasi, or Benaras, is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi`s Prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrevealed. Mark Twain, the English author and literature, who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Benaras, once wrote: "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together" Varanasi, the holy city of India, is also known by the name of Kashi and Benaras. Kashi, the city of Moksha for Hindus since centuries, is known for its fine-quality silks, 'paan', Benares Hindu University and Avimukta of the ancient day, Varanasi is the most popular pilgrimage point for the Hindus. One of the seven holiest cities, Varanasi city is also one the Shakti Peethas and one of the twelve Jyotir Linga sites in India. In Hinduism it is believed that those who die and are cremated here get an instant gateway to liberation from the cycle of births and re-births.

DIFFERENT NAMES
It is the oldest city of India known as the cultural, religious, spiritual, intellectual and holy city by the Hindus, Jains and Buddhists pilgrims. In historic time, Varanasi is popularly known by the name of "Kashi" or "Kashi Nagri". Its reference comes in many Hindu epics. With the passage of time, it is also popularly known by the name of "Benaras". With the passage of time, It is also called as the "City of temples", "Spiritual city of India", "Holy city of India", "Oldest inhabited city of India", "City of Lord Shiva", "City of Ghats" etc. Now a days, its popular name is Varanasi which is derived from two rivers "Varuna" & "Asi".

HISTORY

Varanasi has great history. Visitors often express interest in knowing Varanasi history so that they may understand this place in better way. Infact it is counted among oldest living cities in the world. Lest check Varanasi history in era-wise to enhance our understanding.
Vedic Era : According to legends Varanasi was founded by Lord Shiva. Banaras is still called 'The City of Shiva'; and devotion to Shiva can be seen in the city abundantly. Banaras has seen the Vedic religion flourishing from its own eyes. Reference to Kashi is frequently found in ancient Hind scriptures such as Vedas, Upnishadas, and Puranas. Banaras holds a divine and important status since the beginning of the history of Hinduism. In Upanishadas, it was referred as the holiest city of all. The Pandavas, the mythic protagonists of the Hindu epic Mahabahrata, are said to have visited the city in search of Shiva to compansate for their sin of fratricide and Brahmhatya that they had committed during the Kurukshetra War. Varanasi is regarded as one of seven holy cities (Sapt Puri) which can provide Moksha; Ayodhya, Mathura, Gaya, Kashi, Kanchi, Avantika, and Dvaravati are the seven cities known as the givers of liberation. According to Kenneth Flecher Varanasi is one of the World oldest continually inhabited cities. Varanasi area is populated by Vedic people it is suggested by Archeological. Recent excavations at Aktha and Ramnagar, two sites very near to Varanasi, show them to be from 1800 BCE, also supporting the view that the Varanasi area was inhabited by this time.
Buddhist Era: Varanasi was famous as an industrial area for its Silk Fabric, Muslin, perfumes, ivory works and sculpture. At the Buddha time, Varanasi was the capital of Kashi Kingdom. The Buddha is believed to have founded Buddhism here around 528 BC when he gave his first sermon, "The setting in motion of the wheel of Dharma" at nearby Sarnath. The Chinese Traveler Hiuen Tsiang who visited the city around 635 AD attested that the city was the centre of religious and artistic activities, and it was extended about the 5 km along the western Bank of Ganga. He wrote that the city had some 30 temples with about 30 monks. The city's religious importance continued to grow in the 8th century, when Adi Shankra established the worship of Shiva as an official sect of Varanasi. Mauryan Era - Chandradeva, founder of the Gahdavala dynasty made Banaras a second capital in 1090. At the Mauryan Era Varanasi was connected by a road starting from Taxshila ending at Patliputra.
Kabir Era: During the middle age Varanasi was the centre of intellectuals and theologians. Several major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi, Kabir who was born here in 1389, and Ravidas, a 15th-century socio-religious reformer, mystic, poet, traveler, and spiritual figure, who was born and lived in the city and employed in the tannery industry.
Mughal Era: Guru Nanak Dev visited Varanasi for Shivratri in 1507 and it played a large role in the founding of Sikhism. Varanasi experienced a Hindu cultural revival in the 16th century under the Muslim Mughal Emperor Akbar who invested in the city and built two large temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. Annapurna Mandir was established by Raja of Pune at the same time Akbari Bridge was completed. In 1665 French traveler Jean Baptiste Tavernier mentioned the architecture beauty of Vindu Madhava Temple on the side of the Ganga. Road infrastructure was also improved during this period. It was extended from Kolkata to Peshavar by Sher Shah Suri, now it is known as Grand Trunk Road from the British time. In 1656 Emperor Aurangajeb ordered to demolish many temples and buildings to built mosques. Much of modern Varanasi was built in 18th century.
British Era: After the death of Aurangzeb, Mughal dynasty weakened considerably. Keeping hold on the regions began to become more difficult since many Hindu landlords began standing against the Muslim rule. To address this problem, establishment of a Hindu king who would pay loyalty to the emperor, was decided. It resulted the dynasty of rulers of ‘the Benares State’ that lasted till the independence from the British rule. Mansa Ram was the first king of the dynasty. His successor, Balwant Singh became the king of the Benares State. There was a swish between Balwant Singh and Delhi. Raja Balwant Singh with the aid of British disconnects state of Banaras from the Delhi rule. Raja Balwant Singh also managed to keep authority of the state while keeping peace with the British. However, British grasp on the State of Benares continued to get stronger. After Balwant Singh, Chait Singh continued the struggle on. Afterwards, Benares State remained a princely state and paid allegiance to the British Raj.
Post Independence: India achieved the Independence on 15 August, 1947. Hopes were shooting up after the independence, when the nation began a new journey on its own. However, a demon of corruption culture raised its head, and continued to grow stronger. Post independence era has not been very fruitful to the ancient city which has a glorious distant past. Due to the negligence from the governments and various other reasons, development of the city is slower than other major Indian cities. As a result, Banaras region saw its citizens leaving the city to larger cities for opportunities, while also attracting immigrants in large count from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states. Currently, Varanasi is a major city. It serves as a major commercial centre in the eastern Uttar Pradesh state and western Bihar state. Holding 4 universities (including Banaras Hindu University – BHU, one of the most prominent universities in India), Banaras is a notable centre of education. Religious and cultural importance is maintained, and Banaras is respected by Hindus and Buddhists in particular from entire world. In the 2014 parliamentary elections of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected as the 'Member of Parliament' from Varanasi. Prime Minister has vowed to return the city its glory. This was historic moment and matter of pride for Varanasi citizens.

NEXT DESTINATION
Their are other destinations close to this place whose details given below:
ADJOINING DESTINATIONS
Destinations
Attractions
Sarnath
Buddhist heritage tourism site with historic stupas excavation site..
Allahabad
Holy site in Hindu religion. Best place to observe post death rituals on Sangam.
Khajuraho
Ancient temples with sculpture art.
Bodhgaya
Holy place in Buddhist religion.

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