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Varanasi

Varanasi, also commonly known as Benares or Banaras, is situated on the banks of the Ganges River and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is the holiest place on earth for Hindus. Sarnath, near Varanasi, is the site of ...

Varanasi, also commonly known as Benares or Banaras, is situated on the banks of the Ganges River and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is the holiest place on earth for Hindus. Sarnath, near Varanasi, is the site of the deer park where the Buddha gave his first sermon. More than 1 million pilgrims visit the city each year, as Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges remits sins and that dying there ensures the release of one’s soul from the cycle of rebirth. The banks of the Ganges are lined with temples and palaces, many in advanced stages of picturesque decay. 

Varanasi has nearly 100 ghats, or flights of steps, leading down into the river. Most are bathing ghats, but others are used for cremation. At dawn each day, thousands of pilgrims dash into the Ganges to worship Surya, the sun, the visible manifestation of God. Varanasi is a noted center for silk-weaving, brassware, jewelry, woodcraft and carpets. Its exquisite gold-embroidered saris are famous throughout India. 

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