"Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, even older than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together."
Varanasi, or Benaras, (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi is the India of your imagination. This is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities, and one of the holiest in Hinduism.
History and Culture
The origin dates back to 2500 years ago when Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati and chose to make the city their abode. Later the Aryans came and inhabited the city and thus began the trade of silk, muslin, ivory and perfumes. During the Afghan invasion and Muslim rule, Varanasi suffered a destructive phase which involved the demolition and destruction of temples. But it's glory was restored during the rule of Mughal emperor, Akbar.
Varanasi's Prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unsurpassed. Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience to every visitor - the rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges, the high banks, the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue, soul stirring hymns and mantras along with the fragrance of incense filling the air. Many Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi brings salvation/nirvana and so they make the trip to the city when they realize that they are close to death. Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education.
Interesting facts about Varanasi
The holy city, which lies on the banks of the sacred River Ganges, is believed to be the oldest living city in the world.
Besides being an important religious city, Varanasi is also a major centre of learning and culture. The Banaras Hindu University in the city is the largest university in Asia.
A very strange and unbelievable custom practiced in the city of Varanasi is that of frog marriage, which is carried out in the rainy season at the Ashvamedha Ghat. The priest performs the ritual of wedding a couple of frogs and they are then left into the river.
It is the only place in the world which has got 84 Ghats (River Bank), making it the city with the highest number of river banks in the world.
Varanasi lies along the banks of the river Ganges in the Indo-Gangetic plains region hence experience harsh summers. The best time to visit the city is from October to the end of March.
- October - March