Varanasi is a city that seems to exist outside of time. Its Hindus consider it to be one of the oldest continually inhabited and holiest cities in the world, and many say that Varanasi is the spiritual capital city of India. It’s a city bustling with life, at once ancient and contemporary.
Varanasi is a center for yoga and Buddhism. Varanasi is one of the most ancient cities in India, with a population of more than 3 million people. It’s also one of the oldest living cities in the world; it’s believed that Varanasi was founded around 1500 BC. Varanasi is not only known for its historical significance, but also for its prominence in Hinduism and Buddhism.
It has been referred to as “the spiritual capital of India” and “the world’s oldest living city”.
The History of Varanasi
The history of this holy city dates back over two thousand years. In fact, there are many who believe that Varanasi is older than even Delhi or Kolkata. The first evidence of human settlement here can be traced back to about 2000 B.C. when the Indo-Aryan tribes settled down on the banks of the River Ganges. They called their new home ‘Varuna’, which means ‘place where water flows. Over time, they developed a unique culture based upon Vedic principles. This was followed by several other waves of migration from Central Asia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Tibet, China, and Europe. These people brought with them different customs and traditions. Some were Buddhists while others practiced Hinduism.
However, all these groups lived in harmony for centuries until the Muslim invasion in 1193 A.D. After that, the Hindus started converting Muslims into Buddhism. The conversion continued till 1526 when Babur invaded India and established his capital at Delhi. He also converted many Hindus to Islam. In the 16th century, Mughal Empire ruled over most parts of the Indian subcontinent including the Bengal region.
During this time, there was a lot of religious tolerance among various religions. This is why we have so many temples built by Hindus as well as mosques built by Muslims. But after the 1757 war between the British East India Company and Maratha Confederacy, the latter won and they took control of the entire country except for a few areas like Kashmir which were under Dogra’s rule. After that, the Hindu population started decreasing in the whole country due to conversion to other religions or migration out from their own land.
In 1856, when the British government decided to divide Bengal into two provinces – Eastern Bengal & Assam province, the Muslim majority area became part of Assam Province while the rest of Bengal remained with Eastern Bengal. In 1911, the Indian National Congress party came into power and it was followed by the partitioning of Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, etc. This resulted in the creation of new states including Pakistan. As a result, a large number of people migrated from West Pakistan to East Pakistan i.e. now Bangladesh.
After the independence of India in 1947, the border between India and Pakistan got shifted towards the west resulting in the formation of a new state called as Jammu & Kashmir which is still under dispute today. The same thing happened after the 1971 Indo-Pak war where both countries were divided along international borders. Now there are two nations on either side of this disputed territory known as Line of Control or LOC. These areas have been controlled by the Pakistani army since 1965 but the Indian government has not recognized them officially. It was only when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lahore that he agreed to talks with his counterpart Nawaz Sharif over the issue. However, no progress could be made and India continues to claim these territories as its own.
Why is Varanasi Important To Hinduism?
The city is one of the most sacred cities in all of Hinduism. According to ancient texts like Mahabharata, Lord Krishna performed a lot of yajnas here. The Gita also mentions this place as an example of how people should live their lives. In addition, there are many temples dedicated to Vishnu located around the area. This makes Varanasi very significant to Hindus. It has been said by some scholars that it was from here that the Vedic religion spread throughout Asia.
There are several other reasons why Varanasi is so special for Hindus:
It’s where Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Sankat Mochan temple stand. These two temples were built during different periods but they both have similar architecture. They’re considered holy because they represent Shiva and Vishnu respectively. Both these temples are visited by millions of pilgrims every year. The main reason people visit them is to pray, which means there will be a lot of noise in the city.
People also come to see the Ganges River as well as the ghats on its banks. There are over 1000 ghats throughout Varanasi. Each one has steps leading down into the river with water flowing through it. It’s said that if you walk along the bank of the Ganges at night then your prayers will be answered. This is called ‘Prayer Walking’. You can find many places where this happens but I personally recommend going to Dashashwamedh ghat. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets for an evening boat ride from here then you’ll have the opportunity to witness some amazing sunsets and moonrises!
The best time to visit Varanasi is during winter when there isn’t too much pollution in the air, although summertime is still very pleasant. The city itself doesn’t really feel like a tourist destination so doesn’t expect any crowds or hassle. There are plenty of cheap hotels around the ghats which make up most of the city center.
What Religion Is Varanasi?
Hinduism – it’s one of India’s oldest cities with over 2 million people living within its boundaries. It has been home to many religions throughout history including Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Islam. You can find all these different faiths represented at various temples scattered across the city.
Which Hindu God Lived In Varanasi?
Shiva – he was born here as Lord Vishnu took on his form for a while before returning back to being himself again. He also had an incarnation called Kalki who will return when the time comes for him to take revenge against evil beings. The most famous temple dedicated to Shiva is known as ‘Kashi Vishwanath’ which means “Lord Shiva is present”. There are other important shrines too like those dedicated to Goddess Durga, Ganesha, and Kali.
What language is spoken in Varanasi?
Hindi – it’s one of India’s official languages along with English. It has been used by people from Uttar Pradesh since ancient times. In fact, many places have names that end up sounding similar to words in Hindi such as Allahabad or Gorakhpur. Many people also speak Urdu here because the city was once a part of Pakistan before its independence. However, there are very few Muslims left now. Most residents belong to Hindu communities.
Bengali – this is another popular language among the locals. This is mainly due to the large number of immigrants who come from Bangladesh for work. They often live in rented accommodation near their workplace. The local government does not provide any services in Bengali and it’s mostly spoken at home only. There are many restaurants serving Bangladeshi food but they do not accept credit cards so you will need cash on hand.
Why You Must Visit Varanasi?
It has been said that if one visits India then he or she must visit Varanasi as well. Many people have visited here because of the spiritual significance attached to it. One can find temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha, etc. Also, there is a famous temple called Kashi Vishwanath Temple which attracts thousands of devotees every day. This place also houses some very ancient scriptures like Ramayana and Mahabharata. The city is known for its ghats where pilgrims come to take a holy dip in the river Ganga. There are many other places worth visiting such as Sarnath, Kushinagar, Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Vaishali, Mathura, etc. Many foreign tourists also visit here for its immense beauty. Besides, you can see many artistic activities there. It is a historical center of India.
Places You Must Visit
1) Ghantaghar –
It’s one of the oldest buildings in India built by King Ashoka during his reign. It was used as an official residence of the king. It was used as an observatory before being converted into a museum.
2) Dashashwamedh Stambhal-
A huge stupa made up of stone blocks that can be seen from far away. This structure has been standing since AD 300.
3) Bharat Mata Mandir –
One of the most popular temples in Varanasi is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The temple has been renovated and now houses several idols including Lord Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma.
4) Kashi Vishwanatha Temple –
One of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage sites, it’s a major attraction for tourists visiting Varanasi. it was built during the 8th century AD. It’s a very old temple with beautiful architecture. People visit this temple for performing various rituals like bathing, offering prayers, etc. It was built during the reign of King Shishupala who ruled over the Magadha Kingdom. This is another famous Hindu temple located on the banks of the Ganga river. There are many legends associated with this temple like it was here where Lord Krishna got married for the first time or there were two Krishnas who fought over the same girl but both lost their lives. It also contains a statue of Lord Rama which is believed to have come out of ashes after the cremation of his wife Sita.
5) Dashashwamedh Ghat-
Located at the bank of the River Ganges, this ghat is one of the oldest ghats in India. Here people perform the ‘Dasham’ ceremony by throwing coins into the holy waters of the Ganges. The place has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is visited by millions of pilgrims every year. This ghat is located on the banks of river Ganga near Varanasi city. There are many temples around the area including Ramkrishna Math situated nearby. A temple dedicated to Goddess Durga can be found here too.
1) It was a part of the ancient Indian empire known as the Maurya Empire which ruled over most parts of Asia during the 3rd century BC.
2) According to Hindu mythology, it was founded by Lord Shiva himself who had come down from Mount Kailash after killing the demon king Ravana. He performed his famous “Ashwamedha Yagna” at this location.
3) The name Varanasi comes from the Sanskrit word Varna-Sani meaning “place where people wash their feet”.
4) In fact, there were two cities named Varanasi in India before they merged into one and became modern-day Varanasi.
5) There are many temples located around the city that attract thousands of pilgrims every year.
6) During British rule, the area used to be called Benares or Banaras.
7) This is also considered to be the oldest living civilization on earth with more than 5000 years old history.
8) It was a major center for Hinduism during ancient times.
9) According to some historians, it has been mentioned as an important place by Greek historian Megasthenes who visited here about 300 BC.
10) The name “Varanasi” means ‘the abode of Shiva’.
11) One can find numerous religious places like Sankat Mochan Temple, Kashi Vishwanath temple, etc.
12) There are many famous temples in Varanasi such as Gyanvapi Mosque and Durga Mandir.
13) Also known as the holy land of Hindus, this town attracts millions of tourists from all over India and abroad each year.
14) This city is also home to one of the oldest universities in Asia – Banaras Hindu University.
15) In addition to being a spiritual destination, Varanasi is also considered a tourist attraction due to its rich cultural heritage.
16) It has been said that there are more than 2000 river banks which are called ghats or iconic stairways leading down into the river here. Some of them are Tulsi Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Bachraj Ghat etc.
17) These steps were built by King Asoka during his reign between 269 BC-232 BC.
18) They have since become an integral part of the culture of Varanasi.
19) The most famous ghat among them is Dashashwamedh Ghat which was constructed around 200 years ago.
In conclusion, the world is full of amazing places to explore, but Varanasi is one of the most interesting and well worth visiting. The sights are breathtaking, the smells are exotic, and the people are welcoming. Hopefully, this article has given you a little more insight into what it is like to visit this place, so that you can decide if it’s for you!