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Varanasi (aka Banaras, Kashi)





India officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the most populous liberal democracy in the world. India is a union of twenty-eight states and seven federally-governed union territories. New Delhi is the capital of India.
 
Varanasi also known as Benares, Benaras, and Banaras is a famous Hindu holy city situated on the banks of the river Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is believed to be one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world since time immemorial. It is contemporaneous with Sumer. The name Kashi is mentioned in the Rig-Veda. It is also referred to as city of temples and learning.
 
The culture of Varanasi is deeply associated with the river Ganga and its religious importance. The city has been a cultural and religious center in northern India since time immemorial. Modern Varanasi has its own style of classical Hindustani music, and has produced prominent musicians, philosophers, poets, and writers in Indian history, including Tulsidas, Kabir, Munshi Premchand, Jaishankar Prasad, Pandit Ravi Shankar, and Ustad Bismillah Khan. The city has its own dialect of Hindi called Bhojpuri. Varanasi is also the home of Banaras Hindu University.
 
The city of Varanasi is found in many ancient texts, leading to more mystery. It has been suggested that the city is as old as 5000 years old though other claims may push the date further into history. Some believe that Varanasi is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. Varanasi was a commercial and industrial centre famous for its muslin and silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and sculpture. During the time of Gautama Buddha, Varanasi was the capital of the kingdom of Kashi.

Varanasi is said to be the most holy city in Hinduism. It is considered as the most sacred place of pilgrimage for Hindus irrespective of denomination. More than 1,000,000 pilgrims visit the city each year. Varanasi is a city of temples. Almost every road crossing has a nearby temple. Such small temples are the basis of daily local prayers and other rituals. But there are many large temples too, erected at different times through out the history of Varanasi. Probably due to its unique culture, Varanasi is a major tourist destination for foreign tourists in India.

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