Varanasi

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The Indian city of Varanasi is also known as Benares and is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for Hindus. This colorful religious settlement was called in ancient times - Kashi.

Varanasi

It is situated near the left bank of the River Ganges, which is a fundamental part of the ritual acts of pilgrims there. The capital city of Delhi is situated about 700 km in a southeasterly direction.

The name Varanasi was formed under the influence of the river Ganges. It is a mix of names of its two tributaries - passing north of the city – Varuna and that which flows through the south - Asi. It is often called the - city of temples, The Sacred City of India, City of Lights, religious capital of India, city of learning and cultural capital of India.

Varanasi for the followers of Indian and Buddhist faith is like Mecca for Muslims and Christians to the Holy Sepulchre. For nearly 5000 years Benares is an important cultural, religious and historical center, which is believed to be protected by Lord Shiva. Mark Twain himself wrote that the city is older than history, older than tradition, and even twice older than both together.

Many Indian religious leaders, philosophers, poets, writers, singers and musicians even lived in the city, including Buddha, Shankara and Kabir. According to historical sources Buddha delivered his first sermon near the ancient Kashi.

The location is one of the residential suburbs and is located 12 km from the holy city, called Sarnath. In his speech the Buddha reveals the eight steps to achieve inner peace, enlightenment and nirvana. A little later the Emperor Ashoka built Maury in honor of the great teacher – it is about a 34 meters high column with numerous stupas and sacred buildings.

Pilgrims come here and sit down at one of the preceding steps close to the river called ghati. There, there are over 100 places of which are for bathing, while others are for cremations. Usually they bathe in the waters of the Ganges and the ritual is known as Shuja. According to beliefs at sunrise immersion purifies the soul from sins and whoever dies there will avoid reincarnation.

About 1 million pilgrims go there in a year to seek harmony.

Varanasi - Benares ,