The importance of Varanasi | india | Hindustan Times
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The importance of Varanasi

Varanasi (also known as Benares, Banaras, Benaras, Kashi, and Kasi) is a Hindu holy city on the banks of the river Ganga (Ganges) in Uttar Pradesh.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 20:02 IST

Varanasi (also known as Benares, Banaras, Benaras, Kashi, and Kasi) is a Hindu holy city on the banks of the river Ganga (Ganges) in Uttar Pradesh.

Varanasi is to Hindus what Mecca is to Muslims and Vatican to Catholic Christians. Varanasi has a unique culture, quite different from other places in the region.

This culture has developed through thousands of years during which it has been one of the major cultural centres of northern India. The whole Varanasi culture revolves around the river Ganga, which is the heart and soul of the city.

Varanasi has its own 'Gharanas' (style of music) in classical Indian music. Varanasi has produced some of the most well-known musicians, philosophers, poets, writers in Indian history. To name a few, Kabir, Munshi Premchand,Jaishankar Prasad, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Bismillah Khan were/are from Varanasi.

It even has its own dialect, which is quite different from other dialects of the region. It has been a seat of knowledge from about 700 BC onwards. Its universities attracted students from all over the then-known world. Varanasi is also known as the Cultural Capital of India.

Mark Twain said, "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together!".