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Varanasi

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(Redirected from Benares)
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Varanasi.jpg
The banks of Ganges in Varanasi

Varanasi (वाराणसी) (also known as Benares, Banaras, Benaras, Kashi, and Kasi) is a Hindu holy city on the banks of the river Ganga (Ganges) in the modern north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi has a unique culture, quite different from other places in the region. This culture has developed through thousands of years during which it has been one of the major cultural centres of northern India. The whole Varanasi culture revolves around the river Ganga, which is the heart and soul of the city. Varanasi has its own 'Gharanas' (style of music) in classical Indian music. Varanasi has produced some of the most well-known musicians, philosophers, poets, writers in Indian history. To name a few, Kabir, Munshi Prem Chandra, Pd. Ravi Shankar, Pd. Bismillah Khan were/are from Varanasi. It even has its own dialect, which is quite different from other dialects of the region. It has been a seat of knowledge from about 700 BCE onwards. Its universities attracted students from all over the then-known world.

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Benares now also known as Varanasi in the 1890s. This Hindu place of pilgrimage, on the banks of the River Ganges in India, was photographed in the 1890s by John Thomson. The burning wood smoke in the centre of the foreground is a reminder that it was, and still is, traditional for Hindus to cremate the dead. Even when the cremation takes place elsewhere, the relations of the dead person may travel long distances to scatter the ashes on the sacred River Ganges.
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Hindu holy city

Varanasi is the site of the holy shrine of Lord Kasi Viswanatha (a form of Lord Shiva) and is one of the revered 12 Jyotirlingas of the Lord. These characteristics of Varanasi, along with its positional advantage of being on the banks of the Ganga, has given it a place at the forefront of the Hindu religion. Varanasi is considered the most sacred place for all Hindus, irrespective of denomination.

It is believed that bathing in the Ganga or dying in the holy city circumvents re-incarnation and hence provides a permanent place in the Swarg (Heaven), a belief that has encouraged the establishment of innumerable nearby geriatric homes and also the disposal of half burnt corpses into the river. This latter practice continues to cause an irrevocable damage to the river's ecology. The ministry of water resources has finally taken up the restoration of the Ganga in a big way by banning cremation on the city's ghats (ghats are the banks of a holy river, often, as at Varanasi, stepped to facilitate bathing).

The modern name Varanasi is derived from the twin tributaries of Ganga Varuna and Asi on whose shores the city stands.

Industry

Varanasi has several small cottage industries, like saree (traditional Indian female attire), handwoven carpets, and handicrafts. Indian Railways runs a major diesel locomotive factory in Varanasi.

Schools and Colleges

See also

External links

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fr:Vrnas hi:वाराणसी nl:Varanasi pt:Varanasi sv:Varanasi

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