“Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older than legend, and looks twice as old as they are all put together”.- Mark Twain
Varanasi, or Benaras, is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi has great importance in Hindu mythology. A major religious center in India, it is the holiest of the seven holy cities of Hinduism and Jainism and has played an important role in the development of Buddhism. Varanasi has been a cultural center of northern India for several thousand years and is closely associated with the Ganga. Hindus believe that dying here and getting cremated along the banks of the “holy” Ganga river allows one to break the cycle of rebirth and attain salvation.
Some Astonishing Facts About the “Microcosm of India”
Varanasi – Oldest inhabited city
It is believed that this holy city is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It is believed that this place was founded by Lord Shiva. Varanasi is still called the ‘city of Shiva’; And Shiva can be seen abundantly in the city of Bhakti. This connection of this city with eternity does not end here; because it is believed that the person who breathes his last breath actually attains salvation. It is considered one of the seven holy cities (Sapta Puri) that can provide salvation.
Center of science
This is the place where Maharishi Patanjali took his first steps, the city has been at the apex of the germination of scientific knowledge. Ayurveda was born in Varanasi and is considered to be the basis of modern medical science such as plastic surgery, cataract, and calculus operations. It is hardly a puzzle that ancient holistic healing sciences like yoga and other traditional forms have their roots in this city.
It is a major business center
Not only is Varanasi the spiritual capital of the country, but it is also made of gold and silver thread works, carpet weaving, wooden toys, glass bangles, ivory works, perfumes, artistic brass, and copper utensils and a variety of silk and brocades. It is the manufacturer. Banarsi is the largest seller of silk.
A center of rich literature
An interesting fact about Varanasi is that many famous literary geniuses like Munshi Prem Chand and Tulsi Das originate from this city. It is also the birthplace of world-renowned artists and composers like Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Bismillah Khan.
A religious hub
Varanasi is called the “microcosm of India” in the sacred geography of India. The place has countless temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Vaishnavism and Shaivism co-exist harmoniously in Varanasi. The city also consists of different religions such as Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism. The city is also a center for Buddhist pilgrimage. At Sarnath, Lord Buddha gave his first teaching after attaining enlightenment. Hence, agglomerating Buddhist population in the region.
Banaras Hindu University (BHU)
The Banaras Hindu University, founded by renowned leader Madan Mohan Malaviya, the largest university in Asia is also a part of this place. Banaras Hindu University is one of the largest universities in the world offering studies in Hindu texts.
A popular site for tourists
Thousands of tourists come every year as tourists and hundreds of them settle down after being impressed by the prosperity of this holy place. Varanasi was, in fact, the third most popular choice for foreign tourists after Agra and Sarnath. The infrastructure, cleanliness, and roads have improved in Varanasi which has increased the number of Visitors.
An important source of music
Varanasi was a thriving center for musicians like Surdas, Kabir, Ravidas, Meera, and Tulsidas. Ravi Shankar and shehnai maestro, Ustad Bismillah Khan, are from this place.
The place is famous for the Tulsi Ghat and the five-day Sangeet Droopad festival held at the Ganges Festival festival held in November and the Nag Nathiya festival.
Majority of Ghats
It is the only place in the world that has 84 ghats, making it the highest ghat city in the world. Most of the ghats are bathing and worship ceremonies, while the two ghats are used exclusively as cremation sites. Most Varanasi ghats were rebuilt in the 18th century when the city came under Maratha rule. The patrons of current ghats are Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwes (Peshwas). Many ghats are associated with legends or mythologies while many ghats are privately owned. Morning boat ride on the Ganges across the ghats is a popular visitor attraction.
Frog marriage is a very surprising tradition that is used in this city, especially during the rainy season at Ashwamedh Ghat. This is where the frog is married with much pomp and show. Every year hundreds of people gather at the Ashwamedha Ghat to witness this interesting frog marriage during the rainy season performed by Hindu priests. The priest performs the wedding ceremony of the two frogs and is then released into the river.