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Varanasi is also referred as Kashi (The ancient name), Benares, Banaras is one of the oldest holy cities and the spiritual city of india, located on the banks of mighty River Ganges. The city is located in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings Salvation. Scholarly books have been written in the city, including the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas. Today there is a temple of his namesake in the city, the Tulsi Manas Mandir. One of the largest residential University of Asia Benares Hindu University is located here. People often refer to Varanasi as “the city of temples”, “the holy city of India”, “the religious capital of India”, “the city of lights”, “the city of learning”, and “the oldest living city on earth.
In the Rigveda, the city was referred to as Kasi or Kashi, “the luminous one” as an allusion to the city’s historical status as a centre of learning, literature, art and culture. Kasikhand described the glory of the city in 15,000 verses in the Skanda Purana. In one verse, the Hindu god Shiva says, “The three worlds form one city of mine, and Kashi is my royal palace therein.
The Benares Gharana form of Hindustani classical music developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians live or have lived in Varanasi. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath located near Varanasi.
The city is not only important for Hindu but equally related with Buddhism and Jainism. Gautama Buddha (born circa 567 BC), Varanasi was the capital of the Kingdom of Kashi. Buddha is believed to have founded Buddhism here around 528 BC when he gave his first sermon, “Turning the Wheel of Law”, at nearby Sarnath. Sarnath, a suburb of Varanasi, is a place of Buddhist pilgrimage. It is the site of the deer park where Siddhārtha Gautama is said to have given his first sermon about the basic principles of Buddhism. The Dhamek Stupa is one of the few pre-Ashokan stupas still standing, though only its foundation remains. Also remaining is the Chaukhandi Stupa commemorating the spot where Buddha met his first disciples in the 5th century.
For Jainism it is believed to be the birthplace of Suparshvanath, Shreyansanath, and Parshva, who are respectively the seventh, eleventh, and twenty-third Jain Tirthankars and as such Varanasi is a holy city for Jains. Shree Parshvanath Digambar Jain Tirth Kshetra (Digambar Jain Temple) is situated in Bhelupur, Varanasi. This temple is of great religious importance to Jain Religion.
The evening Ganga Aarti at Dashasvamedha Ghat is worth watching which starts during sunset. This is the main Ghat and is located close to Vishwanath Temple.
How to reach:
By Air: Varanasi is served by Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, which is located approximately 26 km from the city centre in Babatpur. The airport inaugurated a new terminal in 2010, and it was granted international airport status on October 4, 2012.Air India, Buddha Air, Jet Airways, Jet Konnect, and SpiceJet operate flights from Varanasi to Delhi, Gaya, Kathmandu, Khajuraho, Lucknow, Mumbai, and Kolkata.
By Rail: Varanasi Junction, commonly known as Varanasi Cantt Railway Station, is Varanasi’s largest train station.; more than 80,000 passengers and 100 trains pass through the station each day. The station lies on the main line from Delhi-Howrah, Delhi- Guwahati, Delhi-Bhubaneshwar. There are more trains connecting from Mughal Sarai than Varanasi which is about 18 kms away.
By Road: Varanasi lies along National Highway 2, which connects it to Kolkata, Kanpur, Agra and Delhi.National Highway 29 connects Varanasi to Gorakhpur via Ghazipur to the northeast, and National Highway 56 connects Varanasi to Lucknow via Jaunpur and Sultanpur, to the northwest. National Highway 7, the longest National Highway in India, is the most important road connecting Varanasi to southern India, passing through the cities of Hyderabad, Bangalore, Madurai and Kanyakumari. Auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are the most widely available public transport within old city. In outer regions of the city, city-buses are common, and taxis are also available
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