Varanasi – The most ancient cities of learning

“ Varanasi is one of the most ancient cities of learning. This was a place where hundreds of enlightened beings lived at a time. In every street, you had an enlightened being to meet.”

                                                                               – Sadhguru

Varanasi also known as Benares, Banaras, or Kashi, is a city on the banks of the Ganges in the Uttar Pradesh state of North India. Varanasi or Kashi, which has been standing the tests of time for over 5,000 years is said to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It is one of the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism.

One of the seven holiest cities, Varanasi city is also one the Shakti Peethas and one of the twelve Jyotir Linga sites in India. In Hinduism, it is believed that those who die and are cremated here get an instant gateway to liberation from the cycle of births and re-births.

In this city, there are temples at every few paces. Looking at the number of temples in this city, it is hard to believe that a large number of them were demolished during the medieval times. Jyotirlinga Visvanatha Temple or Golden Temple, rebuilt in 1776, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. In one verse of the ancient religious text of Skanda Purana, Shiva says, “The three worlds form one city of mine, and Kāśī is my royal palace therein.”

Interesting Facts about Varanasi

  • Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India. Shri Ramcharitmanas was composed by Goswami Tulsidas (c.1532–1623) in this holy city.
  • It originates from the names of the two rivers: Varuna, still flowing in Varanasi, and Asi, a small stream near Assi Ghat.
  • In ancient times, It was connected by a road starting from Taxila and ending at Pataliputra during the Mauryan Empire.
  • Guru Nanak Dev visited Varanasi for Shivratri in 1507, a trip that played a large role in the founding of Sikhism.
  • The city’s religious importance continued to grow in the 8th century when Adi Shankara established the worship of Shiva as an official sect of Varanasi.
  • Near this city is the 1500-year-old Mahabodhi Temple marking the spot of the legendary Bodhi tree, under which Buddha meditated and attained enlightenment. Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath, near Varanasi, thereby giving birth to Buddhism.
  • In 1897, Mark Twain, the renowned Indophile, said of Varanasi, “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”
  • Recently, It is known for the most sacred city in the world where millions of visitors visit for taking a sacred bath in Ganga River.
  • Besides of Kashi and Banaras, this city was also called Mahasmasana, Brahma Vardha, Ramya, Sudarsana and many others.
  • The Benarasi Saree is also word famous.

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