Benares: The City of Varanasi

Benares is situated 25 degrees 21' north latitude and 82 degrees 40' east longitude. It is called Varanasi in Sanskrit from two small streams the Varana and the Asi, that empties themselves into the Ganges. This ancient celebrated city called the Kasi or the Splendid in the Ramayana lies in a plain and is built in a semicircle on the left bank of the Ganges at an elevation of sixty feet.

Benares (Denominated in Sanskrit Varanasi: a name derived from "Varana" commonly called "Berna" and "Asi" two rivulets or small stream flowing not far from the city) is situated upon the River Ganges about eight hundred miles from its mouth and is estimated to contain one thousand temples. In nearly all of these temples and in more than half of all the other temples of India the principal object of worship is Lord Shiva.

Benares (also known as Kashi or Banaras) is not only celebrated for the number of its temples and the benefits they are supposed to confer and for the learning and the sanctity of its people; for its schools of science and the arts and more especially for its great antiquity. It is thought to have been built by Shiva of pure gold but has long since degenerated into stone brick and clay in consequence of the sins of the people. It is visited by more pilgrims than any other place in India.

The sacred River Ganges in Varanasi (by babasteve)
The sacred River Ganges in Varanasi (by babasteve)
Sunrise on the holy Ganges at Varanasi, India (by babasteve)
Sunrise on the holy Ganges at Varanasi, India (by babasteve)

"Varanasi" the indestructible city of eternal salvation is the native land of science and intellect: hence one desirous of observing the precepts by which a continuance of family is cut off (bonds of family attachment), is solicitous to dwell there continually.

The principal mosque in Benares stands upon the place once occupied by a very large and splendid Hindu temple which contained an emblem of Shiva, said to have fallen on this spot from heaven. Soon after the commencement of the eighteenth century Aurungzeb, a Mogul conqueror demolished the temple and built a mosque. The Hindus say that the indignant idol to escape the impious hands of the Muslims while tearing down the temple threw itself into a neighboring well. This circumstance rendered the water very holy and purifying. The well is in a spacious and beautiful pavilion of stone consisting of a roof, supported by twenty four columns. On the left of the pavilion are three temples of a pyramidical form. The one in the centre is esteemed the most holy temple in Benares because it contains the celebrated idol which concealed itself in the well.

Holy men at Benaras (by babasteve)
Holy men at Benaras (by babasteve)

Getting to Varanasi

Air Connected with Delhi, Khauraho, Lucknow, Patna, Mumbai airports

Rail Ahmedabad, Cochin, Delhi, Gwalior, Kolkata, Madras, Mumbai, Tirupati, Puri, Patna

Road National Highway 2 from Calcutta-Delhi, and National Hightway 29 to Gorakhpur

Benares a city of above one and half a million of inhabitants pent up in narrow alleys through none of which a wheel carriage could pass may be regarded as the centre and the capital of the Hindu religion. The Ganges though everywhere revered as holy is yet deemed more holy at Benares than at any other portion of its course. Anyonewho dies in the sacred city and is cast into the sacred stream is sure of acceptance in high heaven. Here the temples are many and magnificent. From each of these discordant strains of music such as the Hindus love resound. The bulls devoted to Siva tame and familiar as mastiffs walk lazily up and down the narrow streets. The monkeys are numerous clinging to all the roofs and little projections of the temples thrusting as they chatter their heads and hands into every fruiterer's shop or snatching the food from the children at their meals.

Delhi to Calcutta (Varanasi on the way)
Delhi to Calcutta (Varanasi on the way)

Thy Gods have wrapt thee round as with a shroud, Saintly Benares, where from morn till night, From mosque-crowned street and temple-haunted height, Throb out the voiceful murmurs of the crowd, Over thy hallowed Ganges echoing loud;

While in the deep nook of each flower-clasped shrine, Ever the speechless Shape, in calm divine, Broods o'er the suppliant heads before him bowed. But the majestic River rolls beneath.

Serene, relentless, bearing toward the sea The dust of those, who, happy in their death, By her blest margin meet Eternity. Last, the clear sunset throws a golden wreath, And the sweet Night sinks down most silently.

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Comments 7 comments

crazycat profile image

crazycat 8 years ago from Philippines

Good place to vist if you're interested in history and architecture. Sure, it has many stories to tell.

prasadjain profile image

prasadjain 8 years ago from Tumkur

 Good hub. I visited Benares in 1977.and saw it in detail.On the other side of the river Ganga, a memorial is built for Saint Tulasidas. It is called 'Tulasi Manasa Mandir' which is worth visiting. Benares Hindu University campus is also very nice to see.

Saranath, which is just about 11 from Benares is a place to be seen. There is also a palacein Kashi( perhaps-Ramnagar palace) which also houses a museum which is also worthy of visit.

Barnard olio 8 years ago

I had been in Varanasi during my last trip to India. I can recall my memory.

kedar 6 years ago

Want to know more about Varanasi (Benaras) you mail me on my email ID

(where to go ,where to stay.)

kedar 6 years ago

Photo on Varanasi (Benaras), River Ganga (Ghats)and Sadhu, you can contact me (Old and new collection)

priya 6 years ago

I am born n brought up in varansi,,I love my birth place so much,,I visited many of the cities In India but really i find peace n calmness here n nowhere,People must visit Ghats,Vishwanath Temple,sarnath,tulsi manas temple,Durga temple,Ramnagar Fort about a few KM from main city,Rani laxmi bai birth place ,The university BHU makes the city scientifly adavnced along with traditionaly aspects. The History n culture Of varanasi is buried in sadhus n saints ,Few of them have great power n shakti,the Manikarnika ghat the place of salvation is only the power of shiva here..I love to be Of varansi.

sujju profile image

sujju 6 years ago from mangalore, india

superb hub... good to see such wonderful hubs on India n its greatness... Thanks very much for the information... keep going

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