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Facts About Varanasi

Varanasi is also known as Kashi, is one of the most ancient and spiritually significant cities in the world. Situated on the banks of the holy river Ganges, this city is a vibrant mosaic of history, culture, and religion. In this article, we delve into some intriguing facts about Varanasi, explore its major attractions, and uncover the lesser-known aspects of this timeless city.

Historical and Spiritual Significance of Varanasi

One of the most compelling Varanasi facts is its antiquity. Varanasi is considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with a history dating back over 3,000 years. It is believed that Lord Shiva, the Hindu deity, founded this city, making it a significant pilgrimage site for Hindus.

The Eternal City

Varanasi is often referred to as the “City of Light”. It is believed that those who die in Varanasi attain moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death). This belief makes the city a preferred place for many to spend their final days, adding a profound spiritual dimension to its existence.

Intriguing Kashi Facts

A Hub of Education

Kashi has been a center of learning for centuries. It is home to the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), one of the largest residential universities in Asia. BHU has played a pivotal role in the educational and cultural development of the city and attracts students from all over the world.

The Ghats and the Ganges

One of the remarkable Kashi facts is the presence of its iconic ghats. Varanasi has around 88 ghats, each with its own significance. The Dashashwamedh Ghat is renowned for the Ganga Aarti, a spectacular ritual of offering prayers to the Ganges. The Manikarnika Ghat is one of the holiest sites, where cremations take place around the clock.

Top Attractions Around Varanasi

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the most famous temples in Varanasi. It is a major pilgrimage site and attracts millions of devotees every year. The temple is a symbol of faith and devotion, and its golden spire is an iconic feature of the city’s skyline.

Sarnath

Located just a few kilometers from Varanasi, Sarnath is a significant Buddhist site. It is where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. The Dhamek Stupa, Ashoka Pillar, and the Sarnath Museum are some of the major attractions here.

Ramnagar Fort

The Ramnagar Fort, situated on the eastern bank of the Ganges, is a historic fortification that dates back to the 18th century. It houses a museum that displays an impressive collection of vintage cars, weapons, and medieval costumes, providing a glimpse into the royal past of Varanasi.

Cultural and Artistic Heritage

Classical Music and Dance

Varanasi has a rich tradition of classical music and dance. The Banaras Gharana is famous for its distinctive style of classical music. The city has produced many legendary musicians, including Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Bismillah Khan. Varanasi also has a vibrant tradition of Kathak dance.

Handicrafts and Textiles

Another fascinating fact about Varanasi is its renowned silk weaving industry. The Banarasi silk sarees are famous for their intricate designs and luxurious texture. These sarees are a must-have for any bridal trousseau in India. The city is also known for its brassware, wooden toys, and other traditional crafts.

Festivals and Celebrations

Dev Deepawali

One of the unique Varanasi facts is the celebration of Dev Deepawali, which occurs fifteen days after Diwali. During this festival, the ghats are illuminated with thousands of earthen lamps, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. It is believed that the gods descend to the earth on this day to bathe in the Ganges.

Ganga Mahotsav

The Ganga Mahotsav is another major festival celebrated in Varanasi. It is a cultural extravaganza that showcases the rich heritage of the city through music, dance, and craft exhibitions. The festival culminates with the Dev Deepawali, making it a significant event in the cultural calendar of Varanasi.

Cuisine of Varanasi

The culinary delights of Varanasi are as diverse and rich as its culture. The city’s street food is famous for its unique flavors and traditional recipes.

Street Food Delights

Some must-try street foods include Kachori Sabzi, Chena Dahi Vada, Tamatar Chaat, and Baati Chokha. The sweets of Varanasi, such as Malaiyo, Rasabgulla, and Jalebi, are renowned for their rich flavors and unique preparations.

Banarasi Paan

The Banarasi Paan is an iconic part of the city’s culinary culture. This betel leaf preparation, filled with areca nut and other condiments, is a cultural symbol and is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

Preservation of Culture and Heritage

Efforts are being made to preserve and promote the rich cultural and historical heritage of Varanasi. Various cultural festivals, heritage walks, and conservation projects aim to protect the city’s unique identity for future generations.

Conclusion

The city of Varanasi, with its ancient heritage, spiritual significance, and vibrant culture, continues to captivate the hearts and minds of visitors from around the world. Exploring Kashi is like taking a journey through time, where every street and ghat tells a story of devotion, tradition, and timeless beauty.

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