The Sacred City

The History of Varanasi

Historians believe that Varanasi was the center of Aryan religion and philosophy, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The city flourished as a commercial and industrial center famous for muslin and silk fabrics, ivory works, perfumery and sculptures. It got it's name from the Ganges two river tributaries, Varuna on the north, and Asi on the south. People come to Varanasi to bathe in the Ghats, and some Indians believe it to be auspicious to die in Varanasi and to be cremated in some of the Ghats. And placed in the Ganges. Hindus come from all across India to bathe in the Ganges to wipe away their sins and purify their souls.

The Culture of Varanasi

Varanasi has been considered a city of learning for many centuries. Brahman pandits, or learned men are responsible for the continuation of traditional learning. The Banaras Hindu University is one of the most prominent educational institutions in India. Varanasi also is a big center of Arts, Crafts, Music and dance. Anand Krishna is an art historian and museologist from Varanasi. He has helped in restoration and chronicling of Indian art but also created a breed of professional art researchers.

Did You Know?

  • Did you know that Varanasi is the single oldest living city in India to date?

The People of Varanasi

Varanasi is sometimes known as the "city of a thousand temples." The people of Varnasi believe that Varanasi is where Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati stood when time started ticking for the first time. Varanasi is in the Buddhist as well as in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. Many Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges River In Varanasi will wipe away their sins. Rickshaw drivers sometimes trick tourists by telling them that their hotel has burned down flooded, or does not exist. They make their commission's by bringing new guests to certain hotels, sadly this is fairly common in Varnasi. The locals do have some resentment when locals take pictures of ceremonies of cremations. It is respectful to keep your distance and not take pictures.

Did You Know?

  • Did you know that the city holds a rich blend of spirituality combined with the cultural heritage of the city?

Cited Articles/ Bibliography

Hinduism. "Varanasi (Banaras) - India's Religious Capitol" 24 April 2013<

The Hindu Website. "The History and Antiquity of Varanasi" hinduwebsite. 23 April 2013<

Britannica Encyclopedia. "Varanasi." Encyclopedia Britannica Article. 23 April<