HOME

TheInfoList



Varanasi (; ), officially so revived after 1947, but still widely known as Banaras or Benares (; ), and in ancient times as Kashi, is a city on the
Ganges river The Ganges ( ) or Ganga ( , ) is a trans-boundary river of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, He ...
in
northern India North India is a loosely defined region consisting of the northern part of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second- ...

northern India
that has a central place in pilgrimage, death, and mourning in the
Hindu Hindus () are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-l ...

Hindu
world. The city has a syncretic tradition of Muslim artisanship that underpins its tourism. Located in the middle-Ganges valley in the southeastern part of the state of
Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh (; 'Northern Province') is a state in northern India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

Uttar Pradesh
, Varanasi lies on the left bank of the river. It is to the southeast of India's capital
New Delhi New Delhi (, ''Naī Dillī'') is the Capital city, capital of India and a part of the NCT Delhi, National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is the seat of all three branches of the government of India, hosting the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Pa ...

New Delhi
, south-east of the state capital,
Lucknow Lucknow (, ) is the capital city of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and is also the administrative headquarters of the eponymous district and division. It is the List of cities in India by population, fourteenth-most populous city and ...

Lucknow
, and east of
Allahabad Allahabad (), officially known as Prayagraj, also known as Ilahabad, is a metropolis in the background A metropolis () is a large city or conurbation which is a significant economic, political, and cultural center for a country or re ...
, another Hindu pilgrimage site. Varanasi is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities. Kashi, its ancient name, was associated with a kingdom of the same name of 2,500 years ago. The
Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an Śramaṇa, ascetic, a religious leader and teacher who lived in History of India#Iron Age (1500 – 200 BCE ...
is recorded in the
Pali canon Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the '' Pāli Canon'' or '' Tipiṭaka'' and is the sacred language of '' Theravāda'' Buddhism ...
to have given his first sermon, " The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma", at nearby
Sarnath Sarnath is a place located 10 kilometres north-east of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges River, Ganges and the Varuna River, Varuna rivers in Uttar Pradesh, India. The Deer Park in Sarnath is where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dha ...

Sarnath
in 528 BCE. In the 8th century,
Adi Shankara Adi Shankaracharya (Sanskrit: ) was an Indian people, Indian philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. Although he is credited by some with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hindui ...

Adi Shankara
established the worship of Shiva as an official sect of Varanasi. During the Muslim rule during the Middle Ages, the city became an important centre of Hindu devotion, pilgrimage,
mysticism Mysticism is popularly known as becoming one with God or the Absolute, but may refer to any kind of Religious ecstasy, ecstasy or altered state of consciousness which is given a religious or Spirituality, spiritual meaning. It may also refer to ...
and poetry contributing to its cultural importance.
Tulsidas Tulsidas (; 1532–1623), also known as Goswami Tulsidas, was a Ramanandi Vaishnava Vaishnavism is one of the major Hindu denominations along with Shaivism Shaivism () is one of the major Hindu traditions that worships Shiva, also ...

Tulsidas
wrote his
Awadhi language Awadhi (; अवधी; 𑂃𑂫𑂡𑂲) is an Central Zone (Hindi), Eastern Hindi language of the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch spoken in North India, northern India. It is primarily spoken in the Awadh region of present-day Uttar Pr ...
epic, the ''
Ramcharitmanas ''Ramcharitmanas'' (Devanāgarī Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida (alph ...

Ramcharitmanas
'', a
Bhakti movement The Bhakti movement refers to the theistic devotional trend that emerged in medieval Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-largest religion, with ove ...
reworking of the Sanskrit
Ramayana ''Rāmāyana'' (; sa, रामायणम्, ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India, ancient Indian history, the other being the ''Mahabharata, Mahābhārata''. Along with the ''M ...

Ramayana
, in Varanasi. Several other major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi, including
Kabir Kabir Das ( IAST: Kabīr) was a 15th-century Indian mystic poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform th ...

Kabir
and
Ravidas Guru Ravidas was an Indian mystic Sant Mat, poet-sant of the Bhakti movement and founder of Ravidassia religion during the 15th to 16th century CE. Venerated as a ''guru'' (teacher) in the region of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtr ...
. In the 16th century, the
Mughal emperor The Mughal emperors (or Moghul) built and ruled the Mughal Empire on the Indian subcontinent, mainly corresponding to the modern countries of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The Mughals began to rule parts of India from 1526, and ...
Akbar Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar (Persian language, Persian: ; October 1542– 27 October 1605), popularly known as Akbar the Great, (''Akbar-i-azam'' ), and also as Akbar I (), was the third Mughal emperors, Mughal emperor, who reigne ...

Akbar
built two large temples dedicated to
Shiva Shiva (; sa, शिव , , ISO: , , ), also known as Mahadeva (), is one of the principal deities of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-larges ...

Shiva
and
Vishnu Vishnu (; ; , ), also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the Hindu deities, principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme being within Vaishnavism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism. Vishnu is known as "The Preser ...

Vishnu
in the city. Under the Treaty of Faizabad, the
East India Company The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), the English East India Company or (after 1707) the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Comp ...
acquired Benares in 1775, the city later successively becoming a part of the Benares Division in the
Ceded and Conquered Provinces The Ceded and Conquered Provinces constituted a region in northern Company rule in India, India that was ruled by the British East India Company from 1805 to 1834; it corresponded approximately—in present-day India—to all regions in ...
, the
North-Western Provinces The North-Western Provinces was an administrative region in British India The provinces of India, earlier presidencies of British India and still earlier, presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in India ...
, and the United Provinces, and after India's independence of Uttar Pradesh.
Silk weaving SILK is an audio data compression, audio compression format and audio codec developed by Skype Limited, now a Microsoft subsidiary. It was developed for use in Skype, as a replacement for the SVOPC codec. Since licensing out, it has also been used ...
, carpets and crafts and tourism employ a significant number of the local population, as do the
Banaras Locomotive Works The Banaras Locomotive Works (BLW) (formerly Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW)) in Varanasi Varanasi (), also known as Benares, Banaras (''Banāras'' ), or Kashi (''Kāśī'' ), is a city on the banks of the river Ganges The Ganges ...
and
Bharat Heavy Electricals Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) is an Indian Public sector undertakings in India, public sector engineering and manufacturing company based in New Delhi, India. Established in 1964, BHEL is India's largest power generation equipment manu ...
. Varanasi has been a cultural centre of northern India for several thousand years, and is closely associated with the Ganges. Hindus believe that dying here and being cremated along the Ganges river banks allows the cycle of rebirth to be broken and
salvation Salvation (from Latin: ''salvatio'', from ''salva'', 'safe, saved') is the state of being saved or protected from harm or a dire situation. In religion and theology, ''salvation'' generally refers to the deliverance of the soul from sin and its co ...

salvation
possible. The city is known worldwide for its many
ghats Ghat, a term used in the Indian subcontinent, depending on the context could refer either to a range of stepped hills with valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain ...
, steps leading down the steep river bank to the water, where pilgrims perform rituals. Of particular note are the
Dashashwamedh Ghat Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main ghat in Varanasi on the Ganga River in Uttar Pradesh. It is located close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Vishwanath Temple and is probably the most spectacular ghat. Two Hindu legends are associated with it: according ...

Dashashwamedh Ghat
, the Panchganga Ghat, the
Manikarnika Ghat Manikarnika Ghat (Hindi: मणिकर्णिका घाट) is one of the holiest cremation grounds among the sacred riverfronts (ghats), alongside the river Ganga, in the city of Varanasi in the States and union territories of India, I ...

Manikarnika Ghat
, and the Harishchandra Ghat, the last two being where Hindus cremate their dead. The
Hindu genealogy registers at Varanasi Genealogy book, Genealogy registers, of families, maintained by Brahmin Pandits locally called as ‘Pandas’, who double up as professional genealogy, genealogists, at Haridwar, has been a subject of study for many years now.
are kept here. Among the notable temples in Varanasi are
Kashi Vishwanath Temple Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temple A Hindu temple or mandir or Devasthana is a symbolic house, seat and body of divinity for Hindus. It is a structure designed to bring human beings and gods together, using sy ...
of
Shiva Shiva (; sa, शिव , , ISO: , , ), also known as Mahadeva (), is one of the principal deities of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-larges ...

Shiva
, the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, and the Durga Temple. The city has long been an educational and musical centre: many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians live or have lived in the city, and it was the place where the
Benares gharana Benares gharānā (Hindi: बनारस घराना) is one of the six most common styles of playing of the Indian tabla A tabla, prs, طبلا, gu, તબલા, hi, तबला, kn, ತಬಲಾ, ml, തബല, mr, तबल ...
form of
Hindustani classical music Hindustani classical music is the Indian classical music, classical music of northern regions of the Indian subcontinent. It may also be called North Indian classical music or, in Hindustani language, Hindustani, ''shastriya sangeet'' (). Its o ...
was developed. In the 20th-century the Hindi-Urdu writer
Premchand Dhanpat Rai Srivastava (31 July 1880 – 8 October 1936), better known by his pen name Premchand (, was an Indian writer famous for his modern Hindustani language, Hindustani literature. Munshi Premchand was a pioneer of Hindi and Urdu soci ...

Premchand
and the
shehnai The ''shehnai'' is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the obj ...

shehnai
player
Bismillah Khan Ustad Bismillah Khan (Born Qamaruddin Khan, 21 March 1916 – 21 August 2006), often referred to by the title ''Ustad'', was an Indian musician credited with popularizing the shehnai, a Indian subcontinent, subcontinental wind instrument of the ...
were associated with the city. India's oldest
Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia ...

Sanskrit
college, the
Benares Sanskrit College Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related ...
, was founded during East India Company rule in 1791. Later education in Benares was greatly influenced by the rise of
Indian nationalism Indian nationalism developed as a concept during the Indian independence movement#REDIRECT Indian independence movement {{Rcat shell, {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation {{R unprintworthy ... which campaigned for independence ...
in the late 19th-century.
Annie Besant Annie Besant (''née'' Wood; 1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a British socialist Socialism is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy encompassing a range of Economic systems, econom ...

Annie Besant
founded the
Central Hindu College Central Hindu School, formerly known as Central Hindu College, is one of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-mos ...
in 1898. In 1916, she and
Madan Mohan Malviya Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya ( (25 December 1861 – 12 November 1946) was an Indian scholar, educational reformer and politician notable for his role in the Indian independence movement, as the three times president of Indian National Congress an ...
founded the
Banaras Hindu University Banaras Hindu University (Hindi: aʃi hind̪u viʃvəvid̪yaləy BHU), formerly Central Hindu College, is a Collegiate university, collegiate Central University (India), central university located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. It was establish ...
, India's first residential university. Kashi Vidyapith was established in 1921, a response to
Mahatma Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (; ; 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian lawyer, Anti-colonial nationalism, anti-colonial nationalist Quote: "... marks Gandhi as a hybrid cosmopolitan figure who transformed ... anti-colonial na ...

Mahatma Gandhi
's Non-cooperation movement.


Etymology

Traditional etymology links "Varanasi" to the names of two Ganges tributaries forming the city's borders:
Varuna Varuna (; sa, वरुण, , Malay language, Malay: ''Baruna'') is a Vedas, Vedic deity associated initially with the sky, later also with the seas as well as Ṛta (justice) and Satya (truth). He is found in the oldest layer of Vedic literatur ...
, still flowing in northern Varanasi, and Assi, today a small stream in the southern part of the city, near Assi Ghat. The old city is located on the north shores of the Ganges, bounded by Varuna and Assi. In the ''
Rigveda ) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century. After a scribal benediction ('), the first line has the first pada, RV 1.1.1a ('). The Vedic accent, pitch-accent is marked by underscores and vertical overscores in red. The ''Rigveda'' or ''Ri ...
,'' an ancient Indian sacred collection of
Vedic Sanskrit Vedic Sanskrit was an ancient language of the Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasio ...
hymns, the city is referred to as Kāśī (काशी: Kashi) from the Sanskrit verbal root ''kaś-'' "to shine", making Varanasi known as "City of Light", the "''luminous city as an eminent seat of learning''". The name was also used by pilgrims dating from Buddha's days. Hindu religious texts use many epithets to refer to Varanasi, such as Kāśikā (काशिका sa, "the shining one"), Avimukta (अविमुक्त: sa, "never forsaken" by Shiva), Ānandakānana (आनंदकानन: sa, "the forest of bliss"), and Rudravāsa (रुद्रवास: sa, "the place where Rudra/Śiva resides").


History


Hindu mythology

According to Hindu mythology, Varanasi was founded by
Shiva Shiva (; sa, शिव , , ISO: , , ), also known as Mahadeva (), is one of the principal deities of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-larges ...

Shiva
, one of three principal deities along with
Brahma Brahma ( sa, ब्रह्मा, Brahmā) is one of the Hindu deities, principal deities of Hinduism, though his importance has declined in recent centuries. He is also referred to as Svayambhu () and is associated with creation, knowledge a ...
and
Vishnu Vishnu (; ; , ), also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the Hindu deities, principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme being within Vaishnavism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism. Vishnu is known as "The Preser ...

Vishnu
. During a fight between Brahma and Shiva, one of Brahma's five heads was torn off by Shiva. As was the custom, the victor carried the slain adversary's head in his hand and let it hang down from his hand as an act of ignominy, and a sign of his own bravery. A bridle was also put into the mouth. Shiva thus dishonored Brahma's head, and kept it with him at all times. When he came to the city of Varanasi in this state, the hanging head of Brahma dropped from Shiva's hand and disappeared in the ground. Varanasi is therefore considered an extremely holy site. The
Pandava The Pandavas (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European langua ...
s, the protagonists of the
Hindu epicMahākāvya (lit. great kāvya, court epic), also known as ''sargabandha'', is a genre of Indian epic poetry in Classical Sanskrit. The genre is characterised by ornate and elaborate descriptions of scenery, love, battles and so on — in short, ev ...
''
Mahabharata The ''Mahābhārata'' (; sa, महाभारतम्, ', ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India, the other being the ''Ramayana, Rāmāyaṇa''. It narrates the struggle betwee ...

Mahabharata
'', are said to have visited the city in search of Shiva to atone for their sin of
fratricide Image:Cain kills Abel.png, "Cain kills Abel", a fratricide illustrated by Gustave Doré (''And Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew him''). Frat ...
and Brāhmanahatya that they had committed during the climactic
Kurukshetra War The Kurukshetra War ( hi, कुरुक्षेत्र युद्ध ), also called the Mahabharata War, is a war described in the Indian epic poem '' Mahābhārata ( hi, महाभारत )''. The conflict arose from a dynastic su ...

Kurukshetra War
. It is regarded as one of seven holy cities (''
Sapta Puri The Sapta Puri (from Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European la ...
'') which can provide
Moksha ''Moksha'' (; sa, मोक्ष, '; Tamil language, Tamil: ''vīdupēru''), also called ''vimoksha'', ''vimukti'' and ''mukti'', is a term in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism for various forms of emancipation, enlightenment, liberat ...

Moksha
;
Ayodhya Ayodhya (; IAST: ') is a city and the administrative headquarters of Faizabad district (officially Ayodhya district) and the Faizabad division (officially Ayodhya division) of Uttar Pradesh, India. It shares a municipal corporation with its ...
,
Mathura Mathura () is a city and the administrative headquarters of Mathura district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is located approximately north of Agra Agra (, ) is a city on the banks of the Yamuna river in the Indian state of Utta ...

Mathura
,
Haridwar Haridwar (; , is a city and municipal corporation in Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, India. With a population of 228,832 in 2011, it is the second largest city in the state and the largest in the district. The city is situated on the right ba ...

Haridwar
, Kashi,
Kanchi Kanchipuram ('; ) is a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu in the Tondaimandalam region, from Chennaithe capital of Tamil Nadu. Known as the ''City of Thousand Temples'', Kanchipuram is known for its temple architectures, 1000-pillared hal ...

Kanchi
,
Avanti
Avanti
, and
Dvārakā Dvārakā, also known as ''Dvāravatī'' (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan bra ...
are the seven cities known as the givers of liberation. The princesses Ambika and Ambalika of Kashi were wed to the
Hastinapur Hastinapur is a city in the Meerut district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh (; 'Northern Province') is a state in northern India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South A ...
ruler
Vichitravirya Vichitravirya ( sa, विचित्रवीर्य, ''vicitravīrya'') was a Kuru king. He features in the Hindu epic, the ''Mahabharata The ''Mahābhārata'' (, ; sa, महाभारतम्, ', ) is one of the two major Sansk ...
, and they later gave birth to
Pandu In the ''Mahabharata The ''Mahābhārata'' (, ; sa, महाभारतम्, ', ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India, the other being the ''Ramayana, Rāmāyaṇa''. It ...

Pandu
and
Dhritarashtra Dhritarashtra ( sa, धृतराष्ट्र, ISO 15919, ISO-15919: Dhr̥tarāṣṭra) was a Kuru king who featured heavily in the Hindu epic ''Mahabharata'' as the interim King of the Kuru Kingdom with its capital at Hastinapur. He was b ...
.
Bhima In Indian epic Mahabharata The ''Mahābhārata'' (, ; sa, महाभारतम्, ', ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India, the other being the ''Ramayana, Rāmāyaṇa ...
, a son of Pandu, married a Kashi princess
Valandhara The ''Mahabharata The ''Mahābhārata'' (, ; sa, महाभारतम्, ', ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India, the other being the ''Ramayana, Rāmāyaṇa''. It narra ...
and their union resulted in the birth of Sarvaga, who later ruled Kashi. Dhritarasthra's eldest son
Duryodhana Duryodhana ( sa, दुर्योधन, ) also known as Suyodhana, is the main antagonist in the Hindu epic ''Mahabharata''. He was the eldest of the Kauravas, the hundred sons of the blind king Dhritarashtra and his queen Gandhari (character) ...
also married a Kashi princess Bhanumati, who later bore him a son Lakshman Kumara and a daughter Lakshmanaa.


Archaeological evidence

Excavations in 2014 led to the discovery of artefacts dating back to 800 BCE. Further excavations at Aktha and Ramnagar, two sites in the vicinity of the city, unearthed artefacts dating back to 1800 BCE, supporting the view that the area was inhabited by this time.


Ancient period

Varanasi grew as an important industrial centre, famous for its
muslin Muslin () is a cotton fabric of plain weave Image:Tabby1asm.png, Structure of plain-woven fabric Plain weave (also called tabby weave, linen weave or taffeta weave) is the most basic of three fundamental types of textile weaving, weaves (along ...
and silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and sculpture. During the time of
Gautama Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an Śramaṇa, ascetic, a religious leader and teacher who lived in History of India#Iron Age (1500 – 200 BCE ...

Gautama Buddha
, Varanasi was part of the
Kingdom of Kashi The Kingdom of Kashi was an ancient Indian kingdom located in the region around its capital Varanasi Varanasi (), also known as Benares, Banaras (''Banāras'' ), or Kashi (''Kāśī'' ), is a city on the banks of the river Ganges ...
. The Buddha is believed to have founded Buddhism here around 528 BCE when he gave his first sermon, " The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma", at nearby
Sarnath Sarnath is a place located 10 kilometres north-east of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges River, Ganges and the Varuna River, Varuna rivers in Uttar Pradesh, India. The Deer Park in Sarnath is where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dha ...

Sarnath
. The celebrated Chinese traveller
Xuanzang Xuanzang (; fl. 602 – 664), born Chen Hui / Chen Yi (), was a Chinese Buddhist monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic lan ...

Xuanzang
, also known as Hiuen Tsiang, who visited the city around 635 CE, attested that the city was a centre of religious and artistic activities, and that it extended for about along the western bank of the Ganges. When Xuanzang, visited Varanasi in the 7th century, he named it "Polonise" (婆羅痆斯) and wrote that the city had some 30 temples with about 30 monks. The city's religious importance continued to grow in the 8th century, when
Adi Shankara Adi Shankaracharya (Sanskrit: ) was an Indian people, Indian philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. Although he is credited by some with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hindui ...

Adi Shankara
established the worship of Shiva as an official sect of Varanasi.


Medieval period

Chandradeva Chandradeva (IAST: Candradeva, r. c. 1089–1103 CE), also known as Chandraditya, was an Indian king from the Gahadavala dynasty. He ruled the Antarvedi country in present-day Uttar Pradesh, including Kanyakubja and Varanasi. Although the Ga ...
, founder of the
Gahadavala The Gahadavala dynasty (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languages ...
dynasty made Banaras a second capital in 1090. Varanasi remained a centre of activity for intellectuals and theologians during the Middle Ages, which further contributed to its reputation as a cultural centre of religion and education. Several major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi, including
Kabir Kabir Das ( IAST: Kabīr) was a 15th-century Indian mystic poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform th ...

Kabir
who was born here in 1389, and
Ravidas Guru Ravidas was an Indian mystic Sant Mat, poet-sant of the Bhakti movement and founder of Ravidassia religion during the 15th to 16th century CE. Venerated as a ''guru'' (teacher) in the region of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtr ...
, a 15th-century socio-religious reformer, mystic, poet, traveller, and spiritual figure, who was born and lived in the city and employed in the tannery industry.


Early Modern to Modern periods (1500–1949)

Benares A Brahmin placing a garland on the holiest spot in the sacred city by James Prinsep 1832.jpg, A lithograph by James Prinsep (1832) of a Brahmin placing a garland on the holiest location in the city. On The River Benares ca 1883.jpg, A painting by
Edwin Lord Weeks Edwin Lord Weeks (18491903) was an American artist, noted for his Orientalist works. Life Weeks was born in Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most p ...

Edwin Lord Weeks
(1883) of Varanasi, viewed from the Ganges. Bathing Ghat Banaras India 1890.jpg, An illustration (1890) of Bathing Ghat in Varanasi.
Numerous eminent scholars and preachers visited the city from across India and South Asia.
Guru Nanak Gurū Nānak (Punjabi language, Punjabi pronunciation: , ; born as Nānak on 15 April 1469 – 22 September 1539), also referred to as ('father Nānak'), was the founder of Sikhism and is the first of the ten Sikh gurus, Sikh Gurus. His birth ...

Guru Nanak
visited Varanasi for
Maha Shivaratri Maha Shivaratri (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languages. It ...
in 1507, a trip that played a large role in the founding of
Sikhism Sikhism () or Sikhi ( pa, ਸਿੱਖੀ ', , from pa, ਸਿੱਖ, lit=disciple', 'seeker', or 'learner, translit=Sikh, label=none)''Sikhism'' (indigenously known as ''Sikhī'') originated from the word ''Sikh'', which comes from the Sanskri ...
. Varanasi experienced a ''Hindu'' cultural revival in the 16th century under the
Mughal Mughal or Moghul may refer to: * The Mughal Empire of South Asia ** Mughal dynasty ** Mughal emperors ** Mughal people, a social group of South Asia ** Mughal Army, the Army of Mughal Empire * Cultural influences of the Mughal Empire ** Mughal arc ...
emperor
Akbar Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar (Persian language, Persian: ; October 1542– 27 October 1605), popularly known as Akbar the Great, (''Akbar-i-azam'' ), and also as Akbar I (), was the third Mughal emperors, Mughal emperor, who reigne ...

Akbar
, who invested in the city and funded to build two large temples dedicated to Shiva and
Vishnu Vishnu (; ; , ), also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the Hindu deities, principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme being within Vaishnavism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism. Vishnu is known as "The Preser ...

Vishnu
. The Raja of
Pune Pune (; ) is the seventh most populous city in India and the second-largest city in the state of Maharashtra Maharashtra (; , abbr. MH or Maha, is a states and union territories of India, state in the western and central peninsular region of ...

Pune
established the Annapurna Mandir, and the Akbari Bridge was also completed during this period. The earliest tourists began arriving in the city during the 16th century. In 1665, the French traveller
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605–1689) was a 17th-century French gem merchant and traveler. Tavernier, a private individual and merchant traveling at his own expense, covered, by his own account, 60,000 leagues in making six voyages to Persia a ...

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier
described the architectural beauty of the Vindu Madhava temple on the side of the Ganges. The road infrastructure was also improved during this period. It was extended from
Kolkata Kolkata ( or , ; also known as Calcutta , List of renamed Indian cities and states#West Bengal, the official name until 2001) is the Capital city, capital of the Indian States and union territories of India, state of West Bengal. Located on ...
to
Peshawar Peshawar (; ps, پېښور ; hnd, ; ; ur, ) is the capital of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its List of cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by population, largest city. It is the List of most populous cities in Pakistan, sixt ...

Peshawar
by Emperor
Sher Shah Suri Sher Shah Suri (1486 – 22 May 1545), born Farīd Khān, was the founder of the Suri Empire in India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by ...
; later during the
British Raj The British Raj (; from Hindi language, Hindi ''rāj'': kingdom, realm, state, or empire.) was the rule of the The Crown, British Crown on the Indian subcontinent from 1858 to 1947.''Oxford English Dictionary'', 3rd edition (June 2008), on- ...
it came to be known as the famous
Grand Trunk Road
Grand Trunk Road
. In 1656, Emperor
Aurangzeb Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad (3 November 16183 March 1707), commonly known by the sobriquet (Persian language, Persian: "Ornament of the Throne") or by his regnal title (Persian: "Conqueror of the World"), was the sixth Mughal emperor, who ruled ov ...
ordered the destruction of many temples and the building of mosques, causing the city to experience a temporary setback. However, after Aurangzeb's death, most of India was ruled by a confederacy of pro-Hindu kings. Much of modern Varanasi was built during this time, especially during the 18th century by the
Maratha The Maratha caste are a Marathi people, Marathi clan originally formed in the earlier centuries from the amalgamation of families from the peasant (Kunbi), shepherd (Dhangar), pastoral (Gavli, Gawli), blacksmith (Lohar), Sutar (carpenter), Bhan ...

Maratha
and Bhumihar Brahmin rulers. The kings governing Varanasi continued to wield power and importance through much of the British Raj period, including the Maharaja of Benares, or simply called by the people of Benaras as
Kashi Naresh Vibhuti Narayan Singh (5 November 1927 - 25 December 2000) was the king of Benares, a city considered holy, located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. He was the last Bhumihar Brahmin king of the British governed Benares State, Kingdom of Kas ...
. The Kingdom of Benares was given official status by the Mughals in 1737, the kingdom started in this way and continued as a dynasty-governed area until Indian independence in 1947, during the reign of Vibhuti Narayan Singh. In the 18th century,
Muhammad Shah Nasir-ud-Din Muḥammad Shah ( fa, ) (born Roshan Akhtar ( fa, )) (7 August 1702 – 26 April 1748) was the thirteenth Mughal emperor, who reigned from 1719 to 1748. He was son of Jahan Shah I, Khujista Akhtar, the fourth son of Bahadur Sha ...

Muhammad Shah
ordered the construction of an observatory on the Ganges, attached to Man Mandir Ghat, designed to discover imperfections in the calendar in order to revise existing astronomical tables. Tourism in the city began to flourish in the 18th century. As the Mughal suzerainty weakened, the Benares zamindari estate became Banaras State, thus Balwant Singh of the
Narayan dynasty The Narayan dynasty was the ruling family of Benares. After the disintegration of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century, the family ruled Benares as tributories of the Nawab of Awadh and the East India Company. In 1911, Benares became a full-fledg ...
regained control of the territories and declared himself Maharaja of Benares in 1740. The strong clan organisation on which they rested, brought success to the lesser known
Hindu Hindus () are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-l ...

Hindu
princes. There were as many as 100,000 men backing the power of the
Benares Varanasi (), also known as Benares, Banaras (''Banāras'' ), or Kashi (''Kāśī'' ), is a city on the banks of the river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India, south-east of the state capital, Lucknow, and east of Allahabad. A major religiou ...
rajas in what later became the districts of
Benares Varanasi (), also known as Benares, Banaras (''Banāras'' ), or Kashi (''Kāśī'' ), is a city on the banks of the river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India, south-east of the state capital, Lucknow, and east of Allahabad. A major religiou ...
,
Gorakhpur Gorakhpur is a city in the List of state and union territory capitals in India, Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, along the banks of the West Rapti River, Rapti river in the Purvanchal region. It is situated 270 kilometres east of the state capita ...
and
Azamgarh Azamgarh (IAST: Aajamagadh) is a city in the Indian States and territories of India, state of Uttar Pradesh. It is the headquarters of Azamgarh division, which consists of Ballia district, Ballia, Mau district, Mau and Azamgarh district, Azamga ...
. This proved a decisive advantage when the
dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press 200px, The Pitt Building in Cambridge, which us ...
faced a rival and the nominal suzerain, the
Nawab of Oudh The Nawab of Awadh or the Nawab of Oudh was the title of the rulers who governed the state of Awadh Awadh (), known in British historical texts as ''Avadh'' or ''Oudh'', is a region in the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was befo ...
, in the 1750s and the 1760s. An exhausting guerrilla war, waged by the
Benares Varanasi (), also known as Benares, Banaras (''Banāras'' ), or Kashi (''Kāśī'' ), is a city on the banks of the river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India, south-east of the state capital, Lucknow, and east of Allahabad. A major religiou ...
ruler against the
Oudh The Oudh State (, also Kingdom of Oudh, or Awadh State) was a princely state in the Awadh region of North India until its annexation by the British in 1856. The name Oudh, now obsolete, was once the anglicized name of the state, also writte ...
camp, using his troops, forced the
Nawab Nawab ( ar, نواب; bn, নবাব/নওয়াব; hi, नवाब; Punjabi language, Punjabi : ਨਵਾਬ; Persian language, Persian, Punjabi language, Punjabi , Sindhi language, Sindhi, Urdu: نواب), also spelt Nawaab, Navaa ...

Nawab
to withdraw his main force. The region eventually ceded by the
Nawab of Oudh The Nawab of Awadh or the Nawab of Oudh was the title of the rulers who governed the state of Awadh Awadh (), known in British historical texts as ''Avadh'' or ''Oudh'', is a region in the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was befo ...
to the
Company Rule in India A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity In law, a legal person is any person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, ...
in 1775, who recognized Benares as a family dominion.Benares (Princely State)
– A Document about Maharajas of Varanasi
In 1791, under the rule of the British Governor-General
Warren Hastings Warren Hastings (6 December 1732 – 22 August 1818), an English statesman, was the first Governor of the Presidency of Fort William (Bengal), the head of the Supreme Council of Bengal, and thereby the first ''de facto'' Governor-General of Ben ...

Warren Hastings
, Jonathan Duncan founded a Sanskrit College in Varanasi. In 1867, the establishment of the Varanasi Municipal Board led to significant improvements in the city's infrastructure and basic amenities of health services, drinking water supply and sanitation Author
Mark Twain Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), known by his pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym (or, in some cases, a variant form of a real name) adopted by an au ...

Mark Twain
wrote in 1897 of Varanasi, Benares became a princely state in 1911., with Ramnagar as its capital, but with no jurisdiction over the city proper. The religious head, Kashi Naresh, has had his headquarters at the
Ramnagar Fort The Ramnagar Fort is a fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from Lati ...
since the 18th century, also a repository of the history of the kings of Varanasi, which is situated to the east of Varanasi, across the Ganges. The Kashi Naresh is deeply revered by the local people and the chief cultural patron; some devout inhabitants consider him to be the incarnation of Shiva.
Annie Besant Annie Besant (''née'' Wood; 1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a British socialist Socialism is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy encompassing a range of Economic systems, econom ...

Annie Besant
founded the
Central Hindu College Central Hindu School, formerly known as Central Hindu College, is one of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-mos ...
, which later became a foundation for the creation of
Banaras Hindu University Banaras Hindu University (Hindi: aʃi hind̪u viʃvəvid̪yaləy BHU), formerly Central Hindu College, is a Collegiate university, collegiate Central University (India), central university located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. It was establish ...
in 1916. Besant founded the college because she wanted "t''o bring men of all religions together under the ideal of brotherhood in order to promote Indian cultural values and to remove ill-will among different sections of the Indian population.''" Varanasi was ceded to the Union of India in 1947, becoming part of
Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh (; 'Northern Province') is a state in northern India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

Uttar Pradesh
after Indian independence. Vibhuti Narayan Singh incorporated his territories into the United Provinces in 1949. Majaraja of Benares and Suite, 1870s.jpg, Maharaja of Benares, 1870s. Benares (Baedeker, 1914).jpg, Map of the city, c. 1914. Benares - riverfront - edit LCCN2004707379.jpg, An 1895 photograph of the Varanasi riverfront. 20160628 021143293 iOS.jpg, The lanes of Varanasi are bathed in a plethora of colours.


21st-century

Narendra Modi Narendra Damodardas Modi ( ; born 17 September 1950) is an Indian politician serving as the 14th and current Prime Minister of India The Prime Minister of India (International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration, IAST: ), offici ...

Narendra Modi
has represented
Varanasi Varanasi (; ), officially so revived after 1947, but still widely known as Banaras or Benares (; ), and in ancient times as Kashi, is a city on the Ganges river in North India, northern India that has a central place in pilgrimage, death ...
in the
Parliament of India The Parliament of India ( IAST: ) is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India. It is a bicameral legislature composed of the President of India and the two houses: the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha ...
since
2014 2014 was designated as: * International Year of Crystallography * International Year of Family Farming * International Year of Small Island Developing States * International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People __TOC__ Events Janu ...
. Varanasi has been seriously affected by the
COVID-19 pandemic in India The COVID-19 pandemic in India is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 () caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (). The first case of COVID-19 in India India (Hindi: ), officially the Re ...
.


Geography and climate


Geography

Varanasi is located at an elevation of in the centre of the Ganges valley of
North India North India is a loosely defined region consisting of the northern part of India. The dominant geographical features of North India are the Indus-Gangetic Plain and the Himalayas, which demarcate the region from the Tibetan Plateau and Central ...

North India
, in the Eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh, along the left crescent-shaped bank of the Ganges, averaging between and above the river. The city is the headquarters of
Varanasi district Varanasi is a Districts of Uttar Pradesh, district in the north Indian States and territories of India, state of Uttar Pradesh, with Varanasi city as the district headquarters. It is also called Kashi. According to Hindu and Buddhist mythologie ...

Varanasi district
. By road, Varanasi is located south-east of
New Delhi New Delhi (, ''Naī Dillī'') is the Capital city, capital of India and a part of the NCT Delhi, National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is the seat of all three branches of the government of India, hosting the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Pa ...

New Delhi
, south-east of
Lucknow Lucknow (, ) is the capital city of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and is also the administrative headquarters of the eponymous district and division. It is the List of cities in India by population, fourteenth-most populous city and ...

Lucknow
, east of
Allahabad Allahabad (), officially known as Prayagraj, also known as Ilahabad, is a metropolis in the background A metropolis () is a large city or conurbation which is a significant economic, political, and cultural center for a country or re ...
, and south of Jaunpur. The "Varanasi Urban Agglomeration" – an agglomeration of seven urban sub-units – covers an area of . Neighbourhoods of the city include Adampura, Anandbagh, Bachchhaon, Bangali Tola, Bhelpura, Bulanala, Chaitganj, Chaukaghat, Chowk, Dhupchandi, Dumraon, Gandhinagar, Gautam Nagar, Giri Nagar, Gopal Vihar, Guru Nanak Nagar, Jaitpura, Kail Garh, Khanna, Kotwali, Lanka Manduadih, Luxa, Maheshpur, Mahmoorganj, Maulvibagh, Nagwar, Naipokhari, Shivala, Siddhagiribagh, and Sigra. Located in the
Indo-Gangetic Plain#REDIRECT Indo-Gangetic Plain Image:India-Pakistan Borderlands at Night.JPG, 250px, Clusters of yellow lights on the Indo-Gangetic Plain reveal numerous cities large and small in this astronaut photograph of northern India and northern Pakistan, ...

Indo-Gangetic Plain
s of North India, the land is very fertile because low-level floods in the Ganges continually replenish the soil. Varanasi is situated between the Ganges confluences with two rivers: the Varuna and the Assi stream. The distance between the two confluences is around , and serves as a sacred journeying route for Hindus, which culminates with a visit to a Sakshi Vinayak Temple.


Climate

Varanasi experiences a
humid subtropical climate A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cool to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents, generally between latitude In geography, latitude is a g ...
(
Köppen climate classification The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification 350px, Leslie Holdridge's Life Zone Classification system is essentially a climate classification scheme. Climate classification is a way of categorizing th ...
''Cwa'') with large variations between summer and winter temperatures. The dry summer starts in April and lasts until June, followed by the monsoon season from July to October. The temperature ranges between in the summers. Winters in Varanasi see very large
diurnal Diurnal ("daily Daily or The Daily may refer to: Journalism * Daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and is often typed in black ink with a ...
variations, with warm days and downright cold nights. Cold waves from the region cause temperatures to dip across the city in the winter from December to February and temperatures below are not uncommon. The average annual rainfall is . Fog is common in the winters, while hot dry winds, called loo, blow in the summers. In recent years, the water level of the Ganges has decreased significantly; upstream dams, unregulated water extraction, and dwindling glacial sources due to global warming may be to blame.


Demographics

According to provisional data from the
2011 census2011 censuses were conducted in the following countries: * Australia: Census in Australia * Austria: Demographics of Austria * Bangladesh: 2011 Bangladesh Census * Bulgaria: Demographics of Bulgaria * Canada: Canada 2011 Census * Croatia: 2011 Censu ...
, the Varanasi urban agglomeration had a population of 1,435,113, with 761,060 men and 674,053 women. The Varanasi municipal corporation and CB had a combined population of 1,212,610 of which 642,882 were males and 569,728 in 2011. The population in the age group of 0 to 6 years was 137,111.Varanasi City:

The population of the Varanasi urban agglomeration in 2001 was 1,371,749 with a ratio of 879 females every 1,000 males. However, the area under Varanasi Nagar Nigam has a population of 1,100,748 with a ratio of 883 females for every 1,000 males. The literacy rate in the urban agglomeration is 77% while that in the municipal corporation area is 78%. Approximately 138,000 people in the municipal area live in slums.


Religion

Hinduism is predominantly followed in Varanasi while Islam being the largest minority. Nearly, 70% of the population follows Hinduism. The city also agglomerate different religions such as Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. The city is also a centre for Buddhist pilgrimage. At
Sarnath Sarnath is a place located 10 kilometres north-east of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges River, Ganges and the Varuna River, Varuna rivers in Uttar Pradesh, India. The Deer Park in Sarnath is where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dha ...

Sarnath
, Buddha gave his first teaching after attaining enlightenment. Hence, agglomerating Buddhist population in the region. In the sacred geography of India Varanasi is known as the "microcosm of India". In addition to its 3,300 Hindu religious places, Varanasi has 12 churches, three Jain mandirs, nine Buddhist shrines, three Gurdwaras (Sikh shrines), and 1,388 Muslim holy places.


Administration and politics


Administration


General administration

Varanasi division 300px, Varanasi division Varanasi division is an administrative geographical unit of Uttar Pradesh state of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and ...

Varanasi division
which consists of four districts, and is headed by the
Divisional Commissioner A divisional commissioner, also known as commissioner of division, is an Indian Administrative Service officer who serves as the lead administrator of a List of divisions in India, division of a state in India. The post is referred to as regiona ...
of Varanasi, who is an
IAS officer The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the Public administration, administrative arm of the All India Services. Considered the premier civil service of India, the IAS is one of the three arms of the All India Services along with the Indian P ...
of high seniority, the Divisional Commissioner, Commissioner is the head of local government institutions (including Municipal Corporations) in the division, is in charge of infrastructure development in his division, and is also responsible for maintaining law and order in the division. The District collector, District Magistrate of Varanasi reports to the
Divisional Commissioner A divisional commissioner, also known as commissioner of division, is an Indian Administrative Service officer who serves as the lead administrator of a List of divisions in India, division of a state in India. The post is referred to as regiona ...
. The current Divisional Commissioner, Commissioner is Deepak Agarwal. Varanasi district administration is headed by the District collector, District Magistrate of Varanasi, who is an
IAS officer The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the Public administration, administrative arm of the All India Services. Considered the premier civil service of India, the IAS is one of the three arms of the All India Services along with the Indian P ...
. District collector, The DM is in charge of property records and revenue collection for the central government and oversees the Elections in India, elections held in the city. District collector, The DM is also responsible for maintaining law and order in the city, hence the SSP of Varanasi also reports to the District collector, DM of Varanasi. The DM is assisted by a Chief Development Officer (CDO), four Additional District Magistrates (ADM) (Finance/Revenue, City, Protocol, Executive), one Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), one City Magistrate (CM), and four Additional City Magistrates (ACM). The district has three tehsils, each headed by a Sub-Divisional Magistrate. The current DM is Kaushal Raj Sharma.


Police administration

Varanasi district comes under the Varanasi Police Zone and Varanasi Police Range, Varanasi Zone is headed by an Additional director general of police, Additional Director General ranked IPS officer, and the Varanasi Range is headed Inspector-general of police, Inspector General ranked IPS officer. The current ADG, Varanasi Zone is Biswajit Mahapatra, and IG, Varanasi Range is Vijay Singh Meena. The district police is headed by a Superintendent of police (India), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), who is an Indian Police Service, IPS officer, and is assisted by six Superintendent of police (India), Superintendents of Police (SP)/Additional superintendent of police, Additional Superintendents of Police (Addl. SP) (City, Rural Area, Crime, Traffic, Protocol and Protocol), who are either IPS officers or PPS officers. Each of the several police circles is headed by a Circle Officer (CO) in the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The current SSP is Prabhakar Chaudhary.


Infrastructure and civic administration

The development of infrastructure in the city is overseen by the Varanasi Development Authority (VDA), which comes under the Housing Department of Government of Uttar Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh government. The Divisional Commissioner, divisional commissioner of Varanasi acts as the ''ex-officio'' chairman of the VDA, whereas the vice-chairman, a government-appointed Indian Administrative Service, Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, looks after the daily matters of the authority. The current vice-chairman of the Varanasi Development Authority is Pulkit Khare. The Varanasi Municipal Corporation oversees civic activities in the city; the head of the corporation is the mayor, and the executive and administration of the corporation is the responsibility of the municipal commissioner, who is appointed by the government of Uttar Pradesh and is either an IAS officer or Provincial Civil Service (PCS) officer of high seniority. The current mayor of Varanasi is Mridula Jaiswal, and the municipal commissioner is Nitin Bansal. Water supply and sewage system is operated by the Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam.


Politics

Varanasi is represented in the Lok Sabha by the current Prime Minister of India
Narendra Modi Narendra Damodardas Modi ( ; born 17 September 1950) is an Indian politician serving as the 14th and current Prime Minister of India The Prime Minister of India (International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration, IAST: ), offici ...

Narendra Modi
who won the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and subsequently in 2019 by a huge margin.


Healthcare

Hospitals in the city include the Sir Sunderlal Hospital, a teaching hospital in the
Banaras Hindu University Banaras Hindu University (Hindi: aʃi hind̪u viʃvəvid̪yaləy BHU), formerly Central Hindu College, is a Collegiate university, collegiate Central University (India), central university located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. It was establish ...
, Heritage Hospital, Marwari Hospital, Pitambari Hospital, Mata Anand Mai Hospital, Rajkiya Hospital, Ram Krishna Mission Hospital, Shiv Prasad Gupta Hospital, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital (managed by the state government), and Varanasi Hospital and Medical Research Centre. The urban parts of the
Varanasi district Varanasi is a Districts of Uttar Pradesh, district in the north Indian States and territories of India, state of Uttar Pradesh, with Varanasi city as the district headquarters. It is also called Kashi. According to Hindu and Buddhist mythologie ...

Varanasi district
had an infant mortality rate of 70 per 1,000 live births in 2010–2011. The Railway Cancer Hospital is now being run by the Tata Memorial Centre after intervention by Prime Minister
Narendra Modi Narendra Damodardas Modi ( ; born 17 September 1950) is an Indian politician serving as the 14th and current Prime Minister of India The Prime Minister of India (International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration, IAST: ), offici ...

Narendra Modi
who represents Varanasi. Sushruta, an ancient Indian physician known as the primary author of the treatise ''Sushruta Samhita'', the
Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia ...

Sanskrit
text of surgery, lived in Varanasi and practised medicine and surgery sometime during the 5th century BCE. Since 1922, Ayurveda has been a subject of training in the Banaras Hindu University, and in 1927 a separate Ayurvedic College was established. There are many ayurvedic centres in Varanasi providing treatments such as Panchakarma as well as other treatments.


Public maintenance

Because of the high population density of Varanasi and the increasing number of tourists, the Uttar Pradesh government and international non-governmental organisations and institutions have expressed grave concern for the pollution and pressures on infrastructure in the city, mainly the sewage, sanitation, and drainage components. Pollution of the Ganges is a particular source of worry because of the religious significance of the river, the dependence of people on it as a source of drinking water, and its prominence as a symbol of Varanasi and the city itself. The sewage problem is exacerbated by the role of the Ganges in bathing and in river traffic, which is very difficult to control. Because of the sewage, people using local untreated water have higher risk of contracting a range of water-borne stomach diseases. Parts of Varanasi are contaminated with industrial chemicals including toxic heavy metal. Studies of wastewater from Varanasi's sewage treatment plants identify that water's contamination with metals and the reuse of this water for irrigation as a way that the toxic metals come to be in the plants that people grow for food. One studied example is ''palak'', a popular leafy vegetable which takes up heavy metal when it is in the soil, and which people then eat. Some of the polluting sludge contains minerals which are fertiliser, which could make polluted water attractive to use. Pesticides used in local farming are persistent enough to be spread through the water, to sewer treatment, then back to the farms as wastewater. Varanasi's water supply and sewage system is maintained by Jal Nigam, a subsidiary of Varanasi Nagar Nigam. Power supply is by the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited. The city produces about per day of sewage and per day of solid waste. The solid wastes are disposed in one landfill site.


Economy

According to the 2006 City Development Plan for Varanasi, approximately 29% of Varanasi's population is employed. Approximately 40% are employed in manufacturing, 26% work in trade and commerce, 19% work in other services, 8% work in transport and communication, 4% work in agriculture, 2% work in construction, and 2% are marginal workers (working for less than half of the year). Among manufacturing workers, 51% work in spinning and weaving, 15% work in metal, 6% work in printing and publishing, 5% work in electrical machinery, and the rest work in a wide variety of industry sectors. Varanasi's manufacturing industry is not well developed and is dominated by small-scale industries and household production.
Silk weaving SILK is an audio data compression, audio compression format and audio codec developed by Skype Limited, now a Microsoft subsidiary. It was developed for use in Skype, as a replacement for the SVOPC codec. Since licensing out, it has also been used ...
is the dominant industry in Varanasi. Muslims are the influential community in this industry with nearly half a million of them working as weavers, dyers, sari finishers, and salespersons. Weaving is typically done within the household, and most weavers are Momin Ansari Muslims. Varanasi is known throughout India for its production of very fine silk and Banarasi saris, brocades with gold and silver thread work, which are often used for weddings and special occasions. The production of silk often uses bonded child labour, though perhaps not at a higher rate than elsewhere in India. The silk weaving industry has recently been threatened by the rise of power looms and computer-generated designs and by competition from Chinese silk imports. Trade Facilitation Centre is a modern and integrated facility to support the handloom and handicraft sector in Varanasi; providing trade enhancement and facilitation to both domestic & international buyers. Hence, carrying forward the rich traditions of handlooms and handicrafts. In the metal manufacturing sector,
Banaras Locomotive Works The Banaras Locomotive Works (BLW) (formerly Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW)) in Varanasi Varanasi (), also known as Benares, Banaras (''Banāras'' ), or Kashi (''Kāśī'' ), is a city on the banks of the river Ganges The Ganges ...
is a major employer.
Bharat Heavy Electricals Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) is an Indian Public sector undertakings in India, public sector engineering and manufacturing company based in New Delhi, India. Established in 1964, BHEL is India's largest power generation equipment manu ...
, a large power equipment manufacturer, also operates a heavy equipment maintenance plant. Other major commodities manufactured and traded in Varanasi include hand-knotted Mirzapur carpets, rugs, dhurries, brassware, copperware, wooden and clay toys, handicrafts, gold jewellery, and musical instruments. Important agricultural products include betel leaves (for paan), langra mangoes and khoa (solidified milk).


Tourism

Tourism is Varanasi's second most important industry. Domestic tourist most commonly visit for religious purposes while foreign tourist visit for ghats along River Ganges and Sarnath. Most domestic tourists are from Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and other parts of Uttar Pradesh, while the majority of foreign tourists are from Sri Lanka and Japan. The peak tourist season falls between October and March. In total, there are around 12,000 beds available in the city, of which about one half are in inexpensive budget hotels and one third in Dharamshala (type of building), dharamsalas. Overall, Varanasi's tourist infrastructure is not well developed. In 2017, InterContinental Hotels Group made an agreement with the JHV group to set up Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotel chains in Varanasi. The prominent malls and multiplexes in Varanasi are JHV Mall in the Cantonment area, IP Mall in Sigra, IP Vijaya Mall in Bhelupur, Vinayak Plaza in Maldhaiya and PDR Mall in Luxa. The city has several banks, including the Allahabad Bank, Andhra Bank, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, Central Bank of India, Corporation Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, and State Bank of India.


Notable landmarks

Apart from the 19 archaeological sites identified by the Archaeological Survey of India, some of the prominent places of interest are the Aghor Peeth, the Alamgir Mosque, the Pillars of Ashoka, Ashoka Pillar, the Bharat Kala Bhavan (Art Museum), the Bharat Mata Mandir, the Central University for Tibetan Studies, the Dhanvantari#Temples in India, Dhanvantari Temple, the Durga Temple, the Jantar Mantar, Varanasi, Jantar Mantar, the
Kashi Vishwanath Temple Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temple A Hindu temple or mandir or Devasthana is a symbolic house, seat and body of divinity for Hindus. It is a structure designed to bring human beings and gods together, using sy ...
, the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith, the Shri Vishwanath Temple on the BHU campus, the
Ramnagar Fort The Ramnagar Fort is a fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from Lati ...
, the Ghats in Varanasi, Riverfront Ghats, the Tulsi Manas Mandir, Tulsi Manas Temple.


Jantar Mantar

The Jantar Mantar, Varanasi, Jantar Mantar observatory, constructed in 1737, is located above the ghats along the Ganges, and is adjacent to the Manmandir and Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dasaswamedh Ghats and near the palace of Jai Singh II of Jaipur. While less equipped than the observatories at Jaipur and Delhi, the Jantar Mantar has a unique Sundial#Equatorial sundials, equatorial sundial which is functional and allows measurements to be monitored and recorded by one person.


Ramnagar Fort

The Ramnagar Fort, located near the Ganges on its eastern bank and opposite the Tulsi Ghat, was built in the 18th century by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh with cream-coloured ''chunar'' sandstone. The fort is a typical example of the Mughal architecture with carved balconies, open courtyards, and scenic pavilions. At present, the fort is in disrepair. The fort and its museum are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares. Cited as an "eccentric" museum, it contains a rare collection of American vintage cars, bejewelled Litter (vehicle), sedan chairs, an impressive weaponry hall, and a rare astrological clock. In addition, manuscripts, especially religious writings, are housed in the Saraswati Bhawan which is a part of a museum within the fort. Many books illustrated in the Mughal painting, Mughal miniature style are also part of the collections. Because of its scenic location on the banks of the Ganges, it is frequently used as an outdoor shooting location for films.


Ghats

The Ghats in Varanasi are world-renowned embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions. The ghats are an integral complement to the Hindu concept of divinity represented in physical, Metaphysics, metaphysical, and supernatural elements. Varanasi has at least 84 ghats, most of which are used for bathing by pilgrims and spiritually significant Hindu Puja (Hinduism), puja ceremony, while a few are used exclusively as Hindu cremation sites. Steps in the ghats lead to the banks of Ganges, including the
Dashashwamedh Ghat Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main ghat in Varanasi on the Ganga River in Uttar Pradesh. It is located close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Vishwanath Temple and is probably the most spectacular ghat. Two Hindu legends are associated with it: according ...

Dashashwamedh Ghat
, the
Manikarnika Ghat Manikarnika Ghat (Hindi: मणिकर्णिका घाट) is one of the holiest cremation grounds among the sacred riverfronts (ghats), alongside the river Ganga, in the city of Varanasi in the States and union territories of India, I ...

Manikarnika Ghat
, the Panchganga Ghat, and the Harishchandra Ghat, where Hindus cremate their dead. Many ghats are associated with Hindu legends and several are now privately owned. Many of the ghats were constructed under the patronage of the Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwas. Most are bathing ghats, while others are used as cremation sites. A morning boat ride on the Ganges across the ghats is a popular tourist attraction. The extensive stretches of ghats in Varanasi enhance the riverfront with a multitude of shrines, temples, and palaces built "tier on the tier above the water's edge". The
Dashashwamedh Ghat Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main ghat in Varanasi on the Ganga River in Uttar Pradesh. It is located close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Vishwanath Temple and is probably the most spectacular ghat. Two Hindu legends are associated with it: according ...

Dashashwamedh Ghat
is the main and probably the oldest ghat of Varanasi located on the Ganges, close to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It is believed that
Brahma Brahma ( sa, ब्रह्मा, Brahmā) is one of the Hindu deities, principal deities of Hinduism, though his importance has declined in recent centuries. He is also referred to as Svayambhu () and is associated with creation, knowledge a ...
created this ghat to welcome Shiva and sacrificed ten horses during the ''Dasa-Ashwamedha yajna'' performed there. Above and adjacent to this ghat, there are also temples dedicated to Sulatankesvara, Brahmesvara, Varahesvara, Abhaya Vinayaka, Ganga (the Ganges), and Bandi Devi, which are all important pilgrimage sites. A group of priests performs "Agni Pooja" (Sanskrit: "Worship of Fire") daily in the evening at this ghat as a dedication to Shiva, Ganga, Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire), and the entire universe. Special aartis are held on Tuesdays and on religious festivals. The
Manikarnika Ghat Manikarnika Ghat (Hindi: मणिकर्णिका घाट) is one of the holiest cremation grounds among the sacred riverfronts (ghats), alongside the river Ganga, in the city of Varanasi in the States and union territories of India, I ...

Manikarnika Ghat
is the Mahasmasana, the primary site for Hindu cremation in the city. Adjoining the ghat, there are raised platforms that are used for death anniversary rituals. According to a myth, it is said that an earring of Shiva or his wife Sati (Hindu goddess), Sati fell here. Fourth-century Gupta Empire, Gupta period inscriptions mention this ghat. However, the current ghat as a permanent riverside embankment was built in 1302 and has been renovated at least three times throughout its existence. The Jain Ghat is believed to birthplace of Suparshvanatha (7th Tirthankara) and Parshvanatha (23rd tirthankara). The Jain Ghat or Bachraj Ghat is a Jain Ghat and has three Jain Temples located on the banks of the River. It is believed that the Jain Maharajas used to own these ghats. Bachraj Ghat has three Jain temples near the river's banks, and one them is a very ancient temple of Tirthankara Suparswanath. File:Dashawamedha Ghat in Varanasi 2.jpg,
Dashashwamedh Ghat Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main ghat in Varanasi on the Ganga River in Uttar Pradesh. It is located close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Vishwanath Temple and is probably the most spectacular ghat. Two Hindu legends are associated with it: according ...

Dashashwamedh Ghat
File:Manikarnika Cremation Ghat, Varanasi.jpg,
Manikarnika Ghat Manikarnika Ghat (Hindi: मणिकर्णिका घाट) is one of the holiest cremation grounds among the sacred riverfronts (ghats), alongside the river Ganga, in the city of Varanasi in the States and union territories of India, I ...

Manikarnika Ghat
File:Jain Ghat, Varanasi, UP, India.jpg, The Jain Ghat/Bachraj Ghat


Temples

File:Benares- The Golden Temple, India, ca. 1915 (IMP-CSCNWW33-OS14-66).jpg, The
Kashi Vishwanath Temple Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temple A Hindu temple or mandir or Devasthana is a symbolic house, seat and body of divinity for Hindus. It is a structure designed to bring human beings and gods together, using sy ...
, the most important temple in Varanasi. File:New Vishwanath Temple at BHU.jpg, Shri Vishwanath Mandir has the tallest temple tower in the world. File:Varanasi India.jpg, The 18th century Durga Kund Temple, also known as the "Monkey temple". File:Jain Mandir.JPG, Parshvanath Jain temple, Varanasi, Parshvanath Jain temple
Among the estimated 23,000 temples in Varanasi, the temples most popular for worship are: the Kashi Vishwanath Temple of Shiva; the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple; and the Durga Temple, known for monkeys that reside in the large trees nearby. * The
Kashi Vishwanath Temple Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temple A Hindu temple or mandir or Devasthana is a symbolic house, seat and body of divinity for Hindus. It is a structure designed to bring human beings and gods together, using sy ...
, on the Ganges, is one of the 12 ''Jyotirlinga'' Shiva temples in Varanasi. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout its existence. The Gyanvapi Mosque, which is adjacent to the temple, is the original site of the temple. The temple, which is also known as the Golden Temple, was built in 1780 by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore. The two shikara, pinnacles of the temple are covered in gold and were donated in 1839 by Ranjit Singh, the ruler of Punjab (region), Punjab. The dome is scheduled to receive gold plating through a proposed initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs of Uttar Pradesh. Numerous rituals, prayers, and aartis are held daily at the temple between 02:30 and 23:00. * The Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, which is situated by the Asi River, is one of the sacred temples of the Hindu god Hanuman. The present temple was built in the early 1900s by the educationist and Indian independence movement, Indian independence figure, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, the founder of Banaras Hindu University. According to Hindu legend the temple was built on the spot where the medieval Hindu saint
Tulsidas Tulsidas (; 1532–1623), also known as Goswami Tulsidas, was a Ramanandi Vaishnava Vaishnavism is one of the major Hindu denominations along with Shaivism Shaivism () is one of the major Hindu traditions that worships Shiva, also ...

Tulsidas
had a vision of Hanuman. During a 7 March 2006 terrorist attack, one of three explosions hit the temple while a wedding was in progress, and resulted in injuries to 30 people apart from 23 deaths. Following the attack, a permanent police post was installed inside the temple. * There are two temples dedicated to the goddess Durga in Varanasi: Durga Mandir, Varanasi, Durga Mandir built in the 16th century (exact date not known), and Durga Kund (Sanskrit 'kund' meaning "pond or pool") built in the 18th century. A large number of Hindu devotees visit Durga Kund during Navratri to worship the goddess Durga. The temple, built in the Nagara architecture, Nagara architectural style, has multi-tiered spires and is stained red with ochre, representing the red colour of Durga. The building has a rectangular tank of water called the Durga Mandir, Varanasi, Durga Kund ("Kund" meaning a pond or pool). During annual celebrations of Nag Panchami, the act of depicting the god Vishnu reclining on the serpent Shesha is recreated in the Kund. While the Annapurna Devi Mandir, Annapurna Temple, located nearby to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, is dedicated to Annapoorna devi, the goddess of food, the Sankatha Temple adjacent to the Sindhia Ghat is dedicated to Sankatha, the goddess of remedy. The Sankatha Temple has a large sculpture of a lion and a cluster of nine smaller temples dedicated to the navagraha, nine planets. * Parshvanath Jain temple, Varanasi, Parshvanath Jain temple is the temple of Jain religion dedicated to Parshvanath, the 23rd Thirthankara who was born at Bhelpur in Varanasi. The idol deified in the temple is of black colour and in height. It is located in Bhelapur about from the centre of Varanasi city and from the Benares Hindu University. It belongs to the Digambar sect of Jainism and is a holy tirtha or pilgrimage centre for Jains. * Other temples of note are: the Bharat Mata Mandir, dedicated to the national personification of India, which was inaugurated by
Mahatma Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (; ; 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian lawyer, Anti-colonial nationalism, anti-colonial nationalist Quote: "... marks Gandhi as a hybrid cosmopolitan figure who transformed ... anti-colonial na ...

Mahatma Gandhi
in 1936, the Kalabhairav Temple, the Mrithyunjay Mahadev Temple, and the New Vishwanath Temple located in the campus of Banaras Hindu University, BHU, the Tulsi Manas Mandir.


Mosques

There are 15 mosques of significant historical value in Varanasi. Of particular note are the Abdul Razzaq, Alamgir, Bibi Razia, Chaukhambha, Dhai Nim Kangore, Fatman, Ganje Shahada, Gyanavapi, and Hazrat Sayyed Salar Masud Dargah. Many of these mosques were constructed from the components of the Hindu shrines which were destroyed under the auspices of subsequent Muslim invaders or rulers. The two such well known mosques are the Gyanvapi Mosque and the Alamgir Mosque. The Gyanvapi Mosque was built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1664 CE, after destroying a Hindu temple. ''Gyan Vapi'' (Sanskrit: "the well of knowledge"), the name of the mosque, is derived from a well of the same name located within the precincts of the mosque. The remains of an erstwhile temple can be seen in the foundation, the columns and at the rear part of the mosque. The façade of the mosque is modelled partially on the Taj Mahal's entrance. The mosque is administered by the Anjuman Inthazamiya Masajid (AIM). The Alamgiri Mosque was built in the 17th century by Aurangzeb over the ruins of a Hindu temple. The Hindu temple that was destroyed was dedicated to
Vishnu Vishnu (; ; , ), also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the Hindu deities, principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme being within Vaishnavism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism. Vishnu is known as "The Preser ...

Vishnu
, and had been built by Beni Madhur Rao Scindia, a Maratha chieftain. When emperor Aurangzeb had captured Banaras, he had ordered total destruction of all Hindu temples there. Aurangzeb then built a mosque over the ruins of this temple in 1669 and named it as Alamagir Mosque in the name of his own honorific title "Alamgir" which he had adopted after becoming the emperor of Mughal empire. The mosque is located at a prominent site above the Panchganga Ghat, which is a funerary ghat facing the Ganges. The mosque is architecturally a blend of Islamic and Hindu architecture, particularly because of the lower part of the walls of the mosque having been built fully with the remains of the Hindu temple. The mosque has high domes and minarets. Two of its minarets had been damaged; one minaret crashed killing a few people and the other minaret was officially brought down because of stability concerns. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the mosque. The mosque has a security cordon of a police force.


Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan

Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan, at Sir Gobardhan is the ultimate place of pilgrimage or religious headquarters for followers of the Ravidassia religion. The foundation stone was laid on 14 June 1965 on ''Ashad Sankranti'' day at the birthplace of Ravidas. The temple was completed in 1994.


Sarnath

Sarnath Sarnath is a place located 10 kilometres north-east of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges River, Ganges and the Varuna River, Varuna rivers in Uttar Pradesh, India. The Deer Park in Sarnath is where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dha ...

Sarnath
is located 10 kilometres north-east of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges and the Varuna rivers in
Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh (; 'Northern Province') is a state in northern India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

Uttar Pradesh
, India. The deer park in Sarnath is where
Gautama Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an Śramaṇa, ascetic, a religious leader and teacher who lived in History of India#Iron Age (1500 – 200 BCE ...

Gautama Buddha
first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the Enlightenment in Buddhism, enlightenment of Kondanna. The city is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage to which his devout followers should visit. It was also the site of the Buddha's Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which was his first teaching after attaining enlightenment, in which he taught the four noble truths and the teachings associated with it.


Culture


Literature

Renowned Indian writers who have resided in the city were Kabir, Ravidas, and Tulsidas, who wrote much of his ''Ram Charit Manas'' here. Kulluka Bhatt wrote the best known account of ''Manusmriti'' in Varanasi in the 15th century. The Dīgha Nikāya#Suttas of the Digha Nikaya, Cakkavatti Sīhanāda Sutta text of Buddhism puts forth an idea stating that Varanasi will one day become the fabled kingdom of Ketumati in the time of Maitreya. Later writers of the city have included Ramchandra Shukla, Acharya Shukla, Baldev Upadhyaya, Bharatendu Harishchandra, Devaki Nandan Khatri, Premchand, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Jaishankar Prasad, Kshetresa Chandra Chattopadhyaya, Sudama Pandey (Dhoomil), Vagish Shastri, and Vidya Niwas Mishra. Several newspapers and journals are or were published in Varanasi such as ''Varanasi Chandroday'' and its successor ''Kashivartaprakashika'', which became a weekly journal, first published on 1 June 1851. The main newspaper is ''Aj (newspaper), Aj'', a Hindi-language nationalist newspaper first published in 1920. The newspaper was the bulwark of the Indian National Congress and is a major newspaper of Hindi northern India.


Art

Varanasi is a major centre of arts and designs. It is a producer of silks and brocades with gold and silver thread work, carpet weaving, wooden toys, bangles made of glass, ivory work, perfumes, artistic brass and copper ware and a variety of handicrafts. The cantonment graveyard of the British Raj is now the location of Varanasi's Arts and Crafts. Notable artists (musicians and dancers) and historians who are connected with the city include Thakur Jaidev Singh, Mahadev Prasad Mishra,
Bismillah Khan Ustad Bismillah Khan (Born Qamaruddin Khan, 21 March 1916 – 21 August 2006), often referred to by the title ''Ustad'', was an Indian musician credited with popularizing the shehnai, a Indian subcontinent, subcontinental wind instrument of the ...
, Ravi Shankar, Girija Devi, Gopal Shankar Misra, Gopi Krishna (dancer), Gopi Krishna, Kishan Maharaj, Lalmani Misra, Premlata Sharma, N. Rajam, Siddheshwari Devi, Samta Prasad, Sitara Devi, Chhannulal Mishra, Rajan Sajan Mishra, Ritwik Sanyal, Soma Ghosh, Devashish Dey, Ramkrishna Das and Harish Tiwari.


Music

Varanasi's music tradition is traced to the Puranas, Pauranic days. According to ancient legend, Shiva is credited with evolving music and dance forms. During the medieval era, Vaishnavism, a
Bhakti movement The Bhakti movement refers to the theistic devotional trend that emerged in medieval Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-largest religion, with ove ...
, grew in popularity, and Varanasi became a thriving centre for musicians such as Surdas,
Kabir Kabir Das ( IAST: Kabīr) was a 15th-century Indian mystic poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform th ...

Kabir
,
Ravidas Guru Ravidas was an Indian mystic Sant Mat, poet-sant of the Bhakti movement and founder of Ravidassia religion during the 15th to 16th century CE. Venerated as a ''guru'' (teacher) in the region of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtr ...
, Meera and Tulsidas. During the monarchic rule of Govind Chandra in the 16th century, the Dhrupad style of singing received royal patronage and led to other related forms of music such as Dhamar, Hori, and Chaturang. Presently the Dhrupad maestro Pandit Ritwik Sanyal from Varanasi is working for the revival of this art-music. In recent times, Girija Devi, the native famous classical singer of thumris, was widely appreciated and respected for her musical renderings. Varanasi is also associated with many great instrumentalists such as
Bismillah Khan Ustad Bismillah Khan (Born Qamaruddin Khan, 21 March 1916 – 21 August 2006), often referred to by the title ''Ustad'', was an Indian musician credited with popularizing the shehnai, a Indian subcontinent, subcontinental wind instrument of the ...
and Ravi Shankar, the famous sitar player and musicologist who was given the highest civilian award of the country, the Bharat Ratna. Varanasi has joined the global bandwagon of UNESCO "Cities of Music" under the Creative Cities Network.


Festivals

On
Maha Shivaratri Maha Shivaratri (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languages. It ...
(February), a procession of Shiva proceeds from the Mahamrityunjaya Temple to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Dhrupad Mela is a five-day musical festival devoted to dhrupad style held at Tulsi Ghat in February–March. The Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple celebrates Hanuman Jayanti (March–April), the birthday of Hanuman. A special Puja (Hinduism), puja, aarti, and a public procession is organised. Since 1923, the temple has organised a five-day classical music and dance concert festival named ''Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh'', wherein iconic artists from all parts of India are invited to perform. The Ramlila of Ramnagar is a dramatic enactment of Rama's legend, as told in ''Ramacharitamanasa''. The plays, sponsored by Kashi Naresh, are performed in Ramnagar every evening for 31 days. On the last day, the festivities reach a crescendo as Rama vanquishes the demon king Ravana. Kashi Naresh Udit Narayan Singh started this tradition around 1830. Nag Nathaiya is celebrated on the fourth lunar day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Kartik (month), Kartik (October–November). It commemorates the victory of Krishna over the serpent Kaliya. On this occasion, a large Neolamarckia cadamba, Kadamba tree (''Neolamarckia cadamba'') branch is planted on the banks of the Ganges so that a boy, playing the role of Krishna, can jump into the river on to the effigy representing Kaliya. He stands over the effigy in a dancing pose playing the flute, while an audience watches from the banks of the river or from boats. ''Bharat Milap'' celebrates the meeting of Rama and his younger brother Bharata (Ramayana), Bharata after the return of the former after 14 years of exile. It is celebrated during October–November, a day after the festival of Vijayadashami. Kashi Naresh attends this festival in his regal attire. The festival attracts a large number of devotees. ''Ganga Mahotsav'' is a five-day music festival organised by the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department, held in November–December. It culminates a day before Kartik Purnima, also called Dev Deepawali (Varanasi), the Ganges festival. On this occasion the Ganges is attended by thousands of pilgrims, release lighted lamps to float in the river from the ghats. The primary Muslim festivals celebrated annually in the city are the ld-ul-fitr' (Ramadan, Ramzan), Eid al-Adha, Bakrid, Mid-Sha'ban, Bara Wafat and Muharram. Additional festivals include Alvida and Arba'een, Chehlum. A non-religious festival observed by Muslims is Ghazi-miyan-ka-byaha ("the marriage of Ghazi Miyan").


Education

Historically, Varanasi has been a centre for education in India, attracting students and scholars from across the country. Varanasi has an overall literacy rate of 80% (male literacy: 85%, female literacy: 75%). It is home to a List of educational institutions in Varanasi, number of colleges and universities. Most notably, it is the site of
Banaras Hindu University Banaras Hindu University (Hindi: aʃi hind̪u viʃvəvid̪yaləy BHU), formerly Central Hindu College, is a Collegiate university, collegiate Central University (India), central university located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. It was establish ...
(BHU), which is one of the largest residential universities in Asia with over 20,000 students. The Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi is designated an List of Institutes of National Importance, Institute of National Importance and is one of 16 Indian Institutes of Technology. Other colleges and universities in Varanasi include Jamia-e-Imania, the Institute of Integrated Management and Technology, Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith, Nav Sadhana Kala Kendra, Sampurnanand Sanskrit University and Sri Agrasen Kanya P.G. College. Various engineering colleges have been established in the outskirts of the city. Other notable universities and colleges include Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Institute of Medical Sciences, Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, and Harish Chandra Postgraduate College. Some research oriented institutes were also established by the government such as International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Indian Institute of Vegetable Research and Indian Council of Agricultural Research, National Seed Research and Training Centre. Varanasi also has three Kendriya Vidyalaya. Among them Kendriya Vidyalaya BHU holds the regional office of Varanasi Region of KVS and is seat of Deputy Commissioner. Kendriya Vidyalaya BHU is also accredited by the British Council. Other KVs are Kendriya Vidyalaya 39 GTC and Kendriya Vidyalaya DLW. St. Joseph's Convent School, Varanasi, St. Joseph's Convent School, in Shivpur, Varanasi, was established by the Sisters of Our Lady of Providence of France as a Catholic (Christian) minority institution with the approval of the Government of Uttar Pradesh. It is an autonomous organisation under the diocese of the Bishop of Varanasi. It provides education not only to the Catholic Christian children, but also to others who abide by its rules. Another important institution is the Central Hindu School in Kamachha. This was established by
Annie Besant Annie Besant (''née'' Wood; 1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a British socialist Socialism is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy encompassing a range of Economic systems, econom ...

Annie Besant
in July 1898 with the objective of imparting secular education. It is affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education and is open to students of all cultures. Schools in Varanasi are affiliated with the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), the CBSE, or the Uttar Pradesh Board of Technical Education (U.P Board). The overall "state of education in Varanasi is ... not good."Hiroshi Sasaki
"School Choice and Divided Primary Education: Case Study of Varanasi, UP State, India"
(PDF). ''Journal of the Japanese Association for South Asian Studies'' no. 16 (October 2004): 17–39.
Schools in Varanasi vary widely in quality, with private schools outperforming government schools. In government schools, many teachers fail to come to class or to teach children. Some government schools lack basic equipment, such as blackboards and sufficient desks and chairs for all students. Private schools vary in quality, with the most expensive conducting lessons in English (seen as a key to children's success) and having computers in classrooms. Pupils attending the more expensive private schools, tended to come from upper-class families. Lower-cost private schools attracted children from lower-income families or those lower-income families with higher education aspirations. Government schools tend to serve lower-class children with lower education aspirations.


Media

Varanasi caters a lot of List of films shot in Varanasi, shooting from different film industries in India. The temple town has emerged as a hub to Hindi film industry and Cinema of South India, South film industry. Also, a chunk of Bhojpuri movies are shot in the city. A few Bollywood movies that were shot, include Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 1, Gangs of Wasseypur, Raanjhanaa, Piku, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan and Super 30. Some parts of the Hollywood movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (film), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button were also shot. Web series such as Mirzapur (TV series), Mirzapur and Asur (web series), Asur were also shot in temple town. Newspapers are widely available in Hindi and English. Aj (newspaper), Aj, Hindi newspaper was established in 1920 in Varanasi. Some publishers in the city are: * Dainik Jagran * Hindustan * Amar Ujala * Jansandesh Times * Rajasthan Patrika * Aj (newspaper), Aj * Times of India * Hindustan Times The city also hosts a Doordarshan Kendra, which was established in 1984 by the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India late Smt. Indira Gandhi. In 1998, Doordarshan studio was setup. FM/AM Stations available in the city are: * Radio City (Indian radio station), Radio City 91.9 MHz * Red FM 93.5, Red FM 93.5 MHz * BIG FM 92.7, BIG FM 95.0 MHz * Radio Mirchi 98.3 MHz * Radio Sunbeam 90.4 MHz * Vividh Bharati, AIR Vividh Bharati 100.6 MHz * Gyan Vani 105.6 MHz * AIR Varanasi 1242 AM Mobile apps such as "InVaranasi", "Varanasi" and "LiveVNS" provide a wide range of information related to travel and local news.


Sport

Basketball, cricket, and field hockey are popular sports in Varanasi. The main stadium in the city is the Dr Sampurnanda Stadium (Sigra Stadium), where first-class cricket matches are held. The city also caters an AstroTurf hockey stadium named, Dr. Bheemrao Ambedker National Hockey Stadium. The Department of Physical Education, Faculty of Arts, Banaras Hindu University, Faculty of Arts of Banaras Hindu University, BHU offers diploma courses in Sports Management, Sports Physiotherapy, Sports Psychology and Sports Journalism. Also, Banaras Hindu University, BHU caters sports complexes including badminton court, tennis court, swimming pool and amphitheater. Gymnastics is also popular in Varanasi, and many Indian girls practise outdoors at the ghats in the mornings which hosts Pehlwani, akhadas, where "morning exercise, a dip in the Ganges and a visit to Lord Hanuman" forms a daily ritual. Despite concerns regarding water quality, two swimming clubs offer swimming lessons in the Ganges. The Varanasi District Chess Sports Association (VDCSA) is based in Varanasi, affiliated to the regional Uttar Pradesh Chess Sports Association (UPCSA).


Transport

Varanasi is well-connected by air, rail, and road. One of the major factors in Varanasi, is its access to all parts of the country. Within the city mobility is provided by taxis, rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, and three-wheelers, but with certain restrictions in the old town area of the city.


Air transport

Varanasi is served by Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport , which is approximately from the city centre in Babatpur. The airport's new terminal was inaugurated in 2010, and it was granted international airport status on 4 October 2012. Air India, Air India Express, Buddha Air, IndiGo, Malindo Air, SpiceJet, SriLankan Airlines, Thai AirAsia, Thai Smile and Vistara operate flights from Varanasi to Ahmedabad, Bangkok, Colombo, Delhi, Gaya, India, Gaya, Kathmandu, Khajuraho, Sharjah (emirate), Sharjah, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Hyderabad, India, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Goa, Guwahati, Jaipur,
Kolkata Kolkata ( or , ; also known as Calcutta , List of renamed Indian cities and states#West Bengal, the official name until 2001) is the Capital city, capital of the Indian States and union territories of India, state of West Bengal. Located on ...
and several other cities. Over 3,010,702 passengers passed through the airport in 2019–20, making it the List of busiest airports in India#Passenger traffic, 20th busiest airport in India. The total aircraft movement for the session 2019–20 was 24,056 while cargo tonnage equalled 3,580. Total footfall of the international passengers for the session 2019–20 was 231,730.


Railways

Varanasi Junction railway station, Varanasi Junction, commonly known as Varanasi Cantt Railway Station, is the city's largest railway station. More than 360,000 passengers and 240 trains pass through each day. Banaras railway station is also a Terminal station of Varanasi. Because of huge rush at Varanasi Junction the railway developed the station as a high facilitated terminal. Varanasi City railway station is also one of the railway stations in Varanasi district. It is 4 km North-East of Varanasi Junction railway station. It serves as Terminal station because of heavy rush at Varanasi Junction. Mughalsarai Junction railway station is also the important station in Varanasi suburban. Some important express trains operating from the Varanasi Junction railway station and Manduadih railway station are: Shiv Ganga Express runs between New Delhi Junction and Manduadih station while Mahamana Express runs between Varanasi junction and New Delhi Junction; the Udhna Varanasi Express that runs between Udhna (Surat) junction and Varanasi, a distance of ; the Kashi Vishwanath Express that runs between Varanasi and New Delhi railway station; the Kanpur Varanasi InterCity express, also called Varuna express, which runs over a distance of and connects with
Lucknow Lucknow (, ) is the capital city of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and is also the administrative headquarters of the eponymous district and division. It is the List of cities in India by population, fourteenth-most populous city and ...

Lucknow
(the capital city of Uttar Pradesh) and Kanpur, Varanasi; and the Sabarmati Express which runs between Varanasi and Ahmedabad. Vande Bharat Express, a higher-speed rail, semi-high speed train was launched in the month of February in 2019 in the Delhi-Varanasi route. The train reduced the time travel between the two cities by 15 percent as compared to the Shatabdi Express. Varanasi has following railway stations within the city suburbs:


Roads

Auto rickshaws and Electric rickshaw, E-rickshaws are the most widely available forms of public transport in the old city. In the outer regions of the city, taxis are available. Daily commuters prefer city buses, which operate on specific routes of urban and suburban areas. The city buses are operated by Varanasi City Transport Service Limited. Nearly, 120 buses are operated by Varanasi City Transport Service Limited. The following National Highways pass through Varanasi: The heavy traffic of the city is monitored through Integrated Traffic Management System. The smart traffic management system equips the city with automatic signal control system, separate signal system for pedestrians, traffic management centre at state level, area traffic control system, corridor management and dynamic traffic indicators for smooth movement of traffic. Varanasi Traffic Police keeps an eye through Smart Command and Control Centre.


Inland waterways

National Waterway 1 passes through Varanasi. In 2018, a new inland port was established on the banks of Ganges River. The Varanasi Multi-Modal Terminal, Multi-Modal Terminal is designed to handle 1.26 million metric tons of cargo every year and covers an area of 34 hectares. Nearly, ₹170 crore was invested by the Government to setup an inland port. Maersk started its container service in 2019 by moving 16 containers on National Waterway 1, NW-1 from Varanasi to Kolkata. The port also catered PepsiCo, IFFCO Fertilizers, Emami Agrotech and Dabur for cargo movement.


Projects

Due to growing population and industrial demands, the city is being implanted with several infrastructural projects. In fiscal year 2014–18, the city was awarded with projects worth ₹30,000 crore. The city is being invested by both private and public players in different sectors. Currently, there are many undergoing projects and many have been planned.


Road

The Government is executing seven road projects connecting Varanasi, the total project cost being ₹7100 crores and the total length of the project being 524 km. Some important projects are: * Six lane Varanasi-Aurangabad section of NH-19 * Six lane Varanasi-Allahabad NH-19 * Four lane Varanasi-Gorakhpur NH-29 * Ghagra Bridge-Varanasi section of NH-233 * Four lane Varanasi-Azamgarh Section NH-233 * Four lane Varanasi-Sultanpur NH-56 * New four lane Varanasi-Ayodhya Highway * Varanasi Ring Road Phase – 2 * Ganga Expressway Phase – 2 * Varanasi-Ranchi-Kolkata Greenfield Expressway * Purvanchal Link Expressway


Railways

In 2018, the budget reflected undergoing rail projects of worth ₹4500 crore. Some important projects are: * 3rd rail line between Varanasi-Mughalsarai * New Delhi-Varanasi High Speed Rail Corridor * Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (Jeonathpur Railway Station) * Kashi railway station, Kashi Railway Station to be developed as Intermodal passenger transport, Intermodal Station (IMS)


Airport

* Extension of runway by 1325 meters (First of its kind: National Highway under the airport runway) * New terminal with passenger capacity of 4.5 million per year


Metro

The Varanasi Metro is a rapid transit proposed for Varanasi. The proposed system consists of two lines, spanning from Bharat Heavy Electricals, BHEL to
Banaras Hindu University Banaras Hindu University (Hindi: aʃi hind̪u viʃvəvid̪yaləy BHU), formerly Central Hindu College, is a Collegiate university, collegiate Central University (India), central university located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. It was establish ...
(19.35 km) and Benia Bagh to
Sarnath Sarnath is a place located 10 kilometres north-east of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges River, Ganges and the Varuna River, Varuna rivers in Uttar Pradesh, India. The Deer Park in Sarnath is where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dha ...

Sarnath
(9.885 km). The feasibility study of the project was done by RITES and was completed in June 2015. Metro Rail is likely to be completed around 2020. There will be 26 stations, including 20 underground and six elevated on the two lines, which includes total length of 29.235 km consisting of 23.467 km underground, while 5.768 km will be elevated. The total estimated completion cost for construction of Varanasi Metro is estimated to be ₹13,133 crore. The project is envisaged to be undertaken as a joint venture (JV) project between the Government of India (GoI) and the Government of Uttar Pradesh (GoUP) with 50:50 equity partnerships. To maintain the financial viability of the project, additional grants have been proposed from the two governments in addition to their equity contribution.


Commercial

* Rudraksha Convention Centre * Kashi Vishwanath Corridor * 100 acres freight village for multimodal terminal * Film city to be developed in area of 106 acres * Bus terminal cum shopping mall * IT Park * Textile Park * Integrated Commissioner Complex (ICC) twin towers


Sister cities


See also

* Bibliography of Varanasi * Guptakashi * List of people from Varanasi * Pradosha * Ramanathaswamy Temple * Rameswaram * Shivaratri * Shivdwar * Sonbhadra * Uttarkashi * Vibhuti


References


Citations


General bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * A work of fiction. * * * * *


External links


Official website of Varanasi District


*
Banaras Bibliography
at the Südasien-Institut, Heidelberg University
Varanasi Documentary
{{Good article Varanasi, Metropolitan cities in India Ancient Indian cities Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India Census towns in Varanasi district Cities and towns in Varanasi district Cities in Uttar Pradesh Former capital cities in India Hindu holy cities Holy cities Populated places established in the 2nd millennium BC