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These few lines by Mark Twain say it all: “Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”. This city is a spiritual renaissance whose origins are as old as Jerusalem, Athens and Peking. Banaras is exuberant for its old monuments and thousands of temples.
Banaras also known as Benaras, Kashi and Varanasi is situated in Uttar Pradesh, India and is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati. There is something surreal about Banaras, wide stretched river Ganges and the sites of sunrise and sunset will make you realise how beautiful your life is. The evening aarti(prayer),vedic chants, sounds of bell tolling ,smell of incense sticks from every nook and corner will make your day. Hindus believe that one who is blessed to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals.
Banaras is primarily famous for Kashi Vishwanath Temple which is dedicated to the lord of lords, lord Shiva. This temple stands on the western banks of the holy river Ganga. You must make prior arrangements if you are planning to visit this city in Maha Shiva Ratri or Savan Somvar as most of the hotels and lodgings are already booked. Main deity here is Vishvanatha meaning ruler of the universe. The spiritual capital of India, Varanasi is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism and Jainism and played an important role in the development of Buddhism as well. Buddha founded Buddhism here around 528 BC when he gave his first sermon, ‘The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma’, nearby Sarnath. You must visit Sarnath for its serenity and quietness. Varanasi has also been a great centre of learning for ages. Varanasi promoted spiritualism, mysticism, Sanskrit, yoga and Hindi language and honoured authors such as the ever-famous novelist Prem Chand and Tulsi Das, the famous saint-poet who wrote Ram Charit Manas. Banaras Hindu University is one of the top notch Universities in India. If you are visiting Banaras then you may pay a visit to the University for its rich educational and cultivating environment. Banaras is not just a city but a divine experience.
Banaras is not just a spiritual capital but also a foodie’s paradise famed for its street foods like Tamaatar Chaat, Litti-Chokha, Kachori Sabji and Jalebi. Kachori is the most liked dish by the localites of Banaras. Kachoris are generally served with aloo-rassa, these are mildly spiced and you can gobble them easily. Gold embroidered Banarasi Sarees are a speciality of this place; don’t forget to get one for your mother when you visit Varanasi.