Varanasi Collage
Left to Right, Top to Bottom:Manikarnika Ghat, Munshi Ghat, Temple on Ganges river bank, Man performing morning rituals in the Ganges, Ganges river bank, Aurangzeb Mosque, Incense aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat, Chet Singh Ghat, Busy Varanasi street at night, Buey in market
The spiritual capital of India
Varanasi is located in India
Location in Uttar Pradesh
Varanasi is located in Uttar Pradesh
Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
Coordinates: 25°17′N 82°58′E / 25°17′N 82°58′E / 25.28; 82.96

Varanasi (Hindustani pronunciation: [ʋaːˈraːɳəsi] (About this soundlisten)), also known as Benares,[5] Banaras (Banāras [bəˈnaːrəs] (About this soundlisten)), or Kashi (Kāśī [ˈkaːʃi] (About this soundlisten)), is a city on the banks of the river Ganga in the Uttar Pradesh state of North India, 320 kilometres (200 mi) south-east of the state capital, Lucknow, and 121 kilometres (75 mi) east of Allahabad. A major religious hub in India, it is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism and Ravidassia. Varanasi lies along National Highway 2, which connects it to Kolkata, Kanpur, Agra, and Delhi, and is served by Varanasi Junction railway station and Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport.

Varanasi is also one of 72 districts in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. At the time of the 2011 census, there were a total of 8 blocks and 1329 villages in this district. The main languages of Varanasi are the Awadhi and Bhojpuri dialects of Hindi-Urdu.

Varanasi grew as an important industrial centre, famous for its muslin and silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and sculpture. 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. The city's religious importance continued to grow in the 8th century, when Adi Shankara established the worship of Shiva as an official sect of Varanasi. During the Muslim rule through Middle Ages, the city continued as an important centre of Hindu devotion, pilgrimage, mysticism and poetry which further contributed to its reputation as a centre of cultural importance and religious education. Tulsidas wrote his epic poem on Rama's life called Ram Charit Manas in Varanasi. Several other major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi, including Kabir and Ravidas. Guru Nanak visited Varanasi for Maha Shivaratri in 1507, a trip that played a large role in the founding of Sikhism.

In the 16th century, Varanasi experienced a cultural revival under the Mughal emperor Akbar who patronised the city, and built two large temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu, though much of modern Varanasi was built during the 18th century, by the Maratha and Brahmin kings. The Kingdom of Benares was given official status by the Mughals in 1737, and continued as a dynasty-governed area until Indian independence in 1947. The city is governed by the Varanasi Nagar Nigam (Municipal Corporation) and is represented in the Parliament of India by the current Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, who won the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 by a huge margin. Silk weaving, carpets and crafts and tourism employ a significant number of the local population, as do the Diesel Locomotive Works and Bharat Heavy Electricals. Varanasi Hospital was established in 1964.

Varanasi has been a cultural centre of North India for several thousand years,[citation needed] and is closely associated with the Ganges. Hindus believe that death in the city will bring salvation, making it a major centre for pilgrimage. The city is known worldwide for its many ghats, embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions. Of particular note are the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Panchganga Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat, the last two being where Hindus cremate their dead and the Hindu genealogy registers at Varanasi are kept here.

The Ramnagar Fort, near the eastern bank of the Ganges, was built in the 18th century in the Mughal style of architecture with carved balconies, open courtyards, and scenic pavilions. Among the estimated 23,000 temples in Varanasi are Kashi Vishwanath Temple of Shiva, the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, and the Durga Temple. The Kashi Naresh (Maharaja of Kashi) is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi, and an essential part of all religious celebrations. 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 form of Hindustani classical music was developed. One of Asia's largest residential universities is Banaras Hindu University (BHU). The Hindi-language nationalist newspaper, Aj, was first published in 1920.


Traditional etymology links "Varanasi" to the names of two Ganges tributaries forming the city's borders: Varuna, 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.[6]

In the Rigveda, an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, the city is referred to as Kāśī (Kashi) from the Sanskrit verbal root kaś- "to shine", making Varanasi known as "City of Light",[7] the "luminous city as an eminent seat of learning".[8] 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 (Sanskrit: "the shining one"), Avimukta (Sanskrit: "never forsaken" by Shiva), Ānandavana (Sanskrit: "the forest of bliss"), and Rudravāsa (Sanskrit: "the place where Rudra/Śiva resides").[1]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Benares
العربية: فاراناسي
asturianu: Benarés
azərbaycanca: Varanasi
تۆرکجه: بنارس
বাংলা: বারাণসী
Bân-lâm-gú: Benares (siâⁿ)
беларуская: Варанасі
भोजपुरी: बनारस
български: Варанаси
brezhoneg: Varanasi
català: Benarés
Чӑвашла: Варанаси
čeština: Váránasí
Cymraeg: Varanasi
dansk: Varanasi
Deutsch: Varanasi
dolnoserbski: Varanasi
डोटेली: वाराणसी
eesti: Varanasi
Ελληνικά: Βαρανάσι
español: Benarés
Esperanto: Varanasio
euskara: Varanasi
فارسی: بنارس
Fiji Hindi: Varanasi
français: Varanasi
ગુજરાતી: વારાણસી
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: काशी
한국어: 바라나시
հայերեն: Վարանասի
हिन्दी: वाराणसी
hrvatski: Varanasi
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: বারানসি
Bahasa Indonesia: Benares
italiano: Varanasi
עברית: ואראנסי
ಕನ್ನಡ: ವಾರಾಣಸಿ
Kapampangan: Varanasi
ქართული: ვარანასი
Кыргызча: Варанаси
Latina: Varanasi
latviešu: Vārānasī
Lëtzebuergesch: Varanasi
lietuvių: Varanasis
magyar: Váránaszi
मैथिली: वाराणसी
Malagasy: Varanasi
മലയാളം: വാരാണസി
मराठी: वाराणसी
მარგალური: ვარანასი
Bahasa Melayu: Varanasi, Cantonment
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဗာရာဏသီမြို့
Nederlands: Benares (stad)
नेपाली: वाराणसी
नेपाल भाषा: वाराणासी
нохчийн: Варанаси
norsk: Varanasi
norsk nynorsk: Varanasi
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ବାରଣାସୀ
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Varanasi
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਵਾਰਾਣਸੀ
پنجابی: وارانسی
پښتو: وراناسي
polski: Waranasi
português: Varanasi
română: Varanasi
русский: Варанаси
саха тыла: Варанаси
संस्कृतम्: काशी
Scots: Varanasi
shqip: Varanasi
Simple English: Varanasi
slovenčina: Váránasí (mesto)
slovenščina: Varanasi
کوردی: ڤاراناسی
српски / srpski: Варанаси
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Varanasi
suomi: Varanasi
svenska: Varanasi
தமிழ்: வாரணாசி
తెలుగు: కాశీ
Türkçe: Varanasi
українська: Варанасі
اردو: وارانسی
Tiếng Việt: Varanasi
Winaray: Varanasi
粵語: 維華拿斯
中文: 瓦拉納西