There are lots of interesting facts about Varanasi, which make this older living city so famous. The foreigners who visited this city always have a question in mind why Varanasi is famous? This city is the world’s oldest living civilization on earth. In history, lots of spiritual seekers visited this holy place of Hinduism to find the truth behind salvation, this is one of the reasons why Varanasi is famous in ancient India.
Varanasi is well known as the land of Lord Shiva, as shiva is the principal deity and most important lord in Hinduism. The Hindu religion originated from the realization of Lord Shiva and his knowledge of this whole cosmos existence. Varanasi or Kashi is the city of temples, as there are approx 3000 temples, this is the reason why Varanasi is called the city of temples
According to a famous American writer about Varanasi:
“Benaras (Varanasi) is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”MARK TWAIN
An American writer, humorist, entrepreneur & lecturer.
History of Varanasi
Varanasi was the capital of the dominion of Kashi during the time of Buddha (6th century BCE), who gave his first sermon nearby at Sarnath. The town remained a centre of spiritual, educational, and artistic activities as attested by the celebrated Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang, who visited it in about 635 CE and said that the town extended for about 3 miles (5 km) along the western bank of the Ganges.
Its early history is that of the primary Aryan settlement within the middle Ganges valley. By the 2nd millennium BCE, Varanasi was a seat of Aryan religion and philosophy and was also a billboard and industrial centre famous for its muslin and silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and sculpture. Varanasi and its history are not limited to a few words here, you can read more information here at Britannica
Importance of Varanasi in the Hindu religion
It is said that the person who takes his last breath in Kashi (Varanasi), attains salvation for sure. Varanasi is considered “Mahashamshana” or “the great cremation ground”. Dead bodies are brought here from far-off places for cremation in “Manikarnika Ghat”.
How the name “Varanasi” came into existence
Traditional etymology links “Varanasi” to the names of two Ganges tributaries forming the city’s borders. Varanasi’s Name comes into existence because of its two rivers, Varuna and Assi. Varuna River is located in northern Varanasi and Assi River is now just like a little stream located in the southern part of the town. Varanasi is found on the north shores of the Ganges, bounded by Varuna and Assi.
In the Rigveda (an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns) the City is mentioned as Kāśī (Kashi), the word is derived from the Sanskrit verbal root kaś- “to shine”, making Varanasi referred to as “The City of Light”, the “luminous city as an eminent seat of learning”. The name was also employed by pilgrims dating from Buddha’s days.
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Hindu religious texts use many epithets to ask Varanasi, like Kāśikā (the shining one), Avimukta (never forsaken by Shiva), Ānandavana (the forest of bliss), and Rudravāsa (the place where Rudra/Śiva resides).
Varanasi: Hindu Mythology & Amazing Historical Facts
According to Hindu mythology, Varanasi was founded by Shiva, one of three principal deities alongside Brahma and 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 disgrace, and a symbol of his bravery. A bridle was also put into the mouth. Shiva thus dishonoured Brahma’s head and kept it with him at the least times. When he came to the town of Varanasi during this state, the hanging head of Brahma dropped from Shiva’s hand and disappeared into the ground. Varanasi is therefore considered a particularly holy site.
The Pandavas, (the protagonists of the Hindu epic Mahabharata) visited the town in search of Shiva. They come here to catch up on their sin of fratricide and Brāhmanahatya, which they had committed during the climactic Kurukshetra War. Varanasi is considered one of seven holy cities (Sapta Puri) which may provide Moksha. Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi, Kanchi, Avanti, and Dvārakā are the seven cities referred to as the givers of liberation.
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Varanasi remained a centre of activity for intellectuals and theologians during the centre Ages. Further contributed to its reputation as a cultural centre of faith and education. Several major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi. One of the enlightened personalities is Kabir who was born here in 1389, and Ravidas, a 15th-century socio-religious reformer, mystic, poet, traveller, and spiritual figure. Ravidas was born and lived within the city and was employed in the tannery industry.
Now here are some exciting facts Varanasi
Varanasi has the Jyotirlinga of lord Shiva
One of the most famous temples of Lord Shiva Kashi Vishvanath Temple is situated here. Kashi Vishwanath temple is referred to in Hindu scriptures for a very long time, as a central part of worship in the Shaiva philosophy.
Varanasi is the City of 84 Ghats
Banaras is the only place in the whole world with 84 ghats. This is the most interesting Facts Varanasi, no city in the world with that many ghats in the world. Varanasi also has the highest number of river banks in the world.
Varanasi is the Birthplace of the twenty-third “Tirthankara, Parsvanath
Varanasi(Benares) is the birthplace of the twenty-third “Tirthankara, Parsvanath”,
Varanasi is the most ancient surviving city
It is believed that Celestial City is one of the oldest living cities in the world. It’s believed that this place was once the house of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. This connection of this city with eternity doesn’t end here; for it’s believed that the one that inhales his final breath here, actually attains salvation.
Varanasi is the epicenter of Knowledge
Being the land where the founding father of natural sciences, Maharishi Patanjali, took his first steps, this town has been at the helm of the germination of the knowledge domain. it’s hardly an enigma that the traditional holistic healing sciences like Yoga and other traditional forms have their roots in this city.
Varanasi is a major trading centre
Not only is Varanasi the spiritual capital of the state, but it’s also the number one trading centre as an excellent amount of trade is completed here. The intricate silver and gold brocades and therefore the famous Banarasi silk are the main items that this city is understood for.
Varanasi is the hub of rich literature
An interesting fact about Varanasi is that variety of famous literary geniuses like Munshi Prem Chand and Tulsi Das hail from this city.
Varanasi is a religious hub
This place has countless temples dedicated to Shaivism and Vaishnavism, and both these sorts of Hinduism stick together here consonant.
Banaras Hindu University (BHU)
Banaras Hindu University is one of the biggest universities in the world offering studies in Hindu scriptures. The largest University in Asia that’s Banaras Hindu University, founded by the famous leader Madan Mohan Malviya, is additionally a neighbourhood of this place.
Varanasi is a favourite site for shooting
A picturesque destination, this place has been featured in several flicks. Many television shows have also used this holy location for shooting purposes.
Varanasi is the source of music
It is also famous for its five-day musical dhrupad festival held at Tulsi Ghat and Ganga Mahotsav festival held in November. Ravi Shankar and therefore the shehnai maestro, Ustad Bismillah Khan, the leading legends of the industry even have their roots in this place.
Varanasi is a rich cultural milieu
This place may be a great symbol of the Hindu new beginning because it may be a hub of culture, knowledge, devotion, art and philosophy.
Frog Marriage in Varanasi
A very uncanny and astonishing custom is practised during this city – frog marriage, which is especially wiped out during the season at the Ashwamedh Ghat. The priest performs the wedding ceremony of a few frogs and then left into the river.
A city within the world? If the legends are to be believed, it’s said that it’s the abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
The Banaras Hindu University within the city is the largest university in Asia and this makes Varanasi a serious centre of learning and culture. Another interesting fact about Varanasi is that it’s the birthplace of several legends like Munshi Prem Chand, Kali Das, and Tulsi Das.
The city is home to many celebrated artists, like an acclaimed musician, Shankar, and therefore the shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan. Varanasi is widely known for being the most important seller of Banarasi silk and therefore the best-known ones are Shatter, Organza, and Georgette.