Varanasi, India

Annie B.

Location

Varanasi is located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Varanasi, also known as Benares or Kashi, lies along the bank of the sacred Ganges River. The city is a densely populated urban area, it also is next to National Highway 2.
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Description

Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously populated cities in the world. It has miles of ghats (steps) leading down to the river for sacred bathing and funerary ceremonies. The streets feature over 2,000 temples and religious buildings. This city is the location for sacred pilgrimages and festivals. It is home to over 3 million Indian people (2011), which makes it the 75th most densely populated city in India. Varanasi is also the destination for many tourists who yearn to get a taste of Indian culture and religion. The city is divided into neighborhoods based on religion and the old caste system.

History

First settled by the Aryans in 2000 BCE, Varanasi was the city for Aryan's religion and culture just as it is today in the country of India. It was a famous for trading and producing works of silk, perfume, ivory works, weaving works, and religious sculptures. The Buddha gave his first sermon in the Deer Park outside the city. Muslim rule was established there in 1194, so Hindu religion and worship of Hindu gods decreased when temples were destroyed during rule. One emperor decided to relieve Hindu oppression and the city became the religious capital again. Hindus and Muslims now coexist in Varanasi, which is under the rule of the Indian government.

Religious Significance

Varanasi has been the religious capital of India for thousands of years. It is significant to many Hindus, Muslims, and some Buddhists and Jains. Muslims consider this city sacred because it was one of many of the places their ancient empire developed. Some Jains believe some of their saints have passed through and possibly lived in the city. Buddhists would consider Varanasi sacred because the Buddha gave his first sermon nearby the city. Many funerary processions take place in the city to release the soul into the afterlife. One particularly famous street in Varanasi is Panchokowski, many Hindu pilgrims hope to walk along this street in their lifetime. The main reason many Hindus visit Varanasi is to visit and bathe in the Ganges.Varanasi has thousands of temples for many of these religions.


The most famous Hindu temple is the Kashi Vishwanath temple, also known as the 'Golden Temple' for its significant golden domes. This temple is dedicated to one of the major Hindu gods, Shiva. It was constructed in 1780 and has been rebuilt many times over the past years. Numerous Hindu saints are said to have visited the holy temple. Another important Hindu temple in the city is the Durga temple, or 'monkey temple'. The name 'monkey temple' was given because of the many monkeys that congregate near the temple. The temple was built in the 1700s in the name of Durga, wife of Shiva. Its remarkable red color has religious meaning of Mata Durga, a form of the goddess. it is believed Durga protects Varanasi from problems, so this temple is quite important to the people.

Works Cited

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