Varanasi, or Benaras, is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi's prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrivalled. Mark Twain, the English author and literature, who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Banaras, once wrote: "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together".
One of the earliest descriptions of Varanasi is found in the Buddhist scriptures as also in the epic, 'Mahabharat'. The 'Pali' version of Varanasi was 'Baranasi' which ultimately gave birth to the name 'Banaras'. According to the 'Vamana Purana', the Varuna and Assi rivers originate from the body of the primordial person at the beginning of time itself. The tract of land lying between them is believed to be the holiest of all pilgrimages. The holy land between these two rivers is 'Varanasi'. Varanasi, also famous as Kashi (Derived from the root 'Kas' - to shine) is called the city of spiritual light.
Steeped in tradition and mythological legacy, Kashi is the 'original ground' created by Shiva and Parwati, upon which they stood at the beginning of time. Varanasi is the microcosm of Hinduism, a city of traditional classical culture. Glorified by myth and legend and sanctified by religion, it has always attracted a large number of pilgrims and worshippers from times immemorial.
To be in Varanasi is an experience in itself… and experience in Self discovery … an ethereal oneness of the body and soul. To every visitor, Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience. The rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges… the high -banks, the temples and shrines, the ashrams and pavilions along the banks bathed in a golden hue… soul -stirring hymns and mantras along with the fragrance of incense filling the air… and, the refreshing dip in the holy waters gently splashing at the Ghats.
Varanasi, the land where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss. Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education. Some of the world- renowned exponents India has produced in these fields were schooled in the Varanasi tradition and origins.
Luminaries parts, Varanasi abounds in the art of silk weaving, an exotic work of art which manifests itself in precious Banarasi silk saris and silk brocades which are cherished as collector's items across the world, even today.
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