Banaras, also known as Varanasi, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world with a history spanning over 3,000 years. A melting pot of all things mystical and religious, Banaras’ love for history, art, culture, music, and literature is known to all. Thousands of devotees and tourists visit this city to catch a glimpse of the beauty of Varanasi.
As Mark Twain famously wrote about Banaras, “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” There is no better way to describe a city that has lasted around for more than 3000 years. Knowledge, religion, gods, Sanskrit, yoga, and meditation have always been central to the city.
In Hinduism, Banaras has been mentioned many times in the Vedas and Upanishads. In Buddhism, Saranath is believed to be where Buddha preached his learnings for the first time after gaining enlightenment in Gaya. A symbol of which is the Sarnath Stupa, one of the top sightseeing places in Banaras. It is a Buddhist monument that dates back to the 3rd century BC and is by Buddhists worldwide.
Varanasi has been inhabited since ancient times and has seen many rulers, empires, and dynasties over the centuries. Some of the oldest forts in Banaras include the Ramnagar Fort. You can explore the Ramnagar Fort and Museum to take a look into Banarasi life in the 1700s.
Situated on the banks of the river Ganga, Banaras is one of the holy cities in India and is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus. It is believed that taking a dip in this holy river will wash away all your sins and bring you closer to moksha. It seems that Banaras has always had a special connection with the divine.
The city is also home to many sacred temples, including the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, originally built in the 11th century. Millions of devotees visit the temple yearly, as the Shivlinga is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.
The Ghats lining the banks of the river Ganga are one of the top sightseeing places in Banaras. One of the most iconic visuals, the Ghats, are steps that lead down to the river. These Ghats have several uses, from bathing to washing clothes. But the most important purpose of these Ghats is to be a platform for devotees to perform rituals and pray.
The most famous Ghat in Banaras is the Dasaswamedh Ghat, known for its magnificent evening Aarti that tourists worldwide hope to experience and become a part of. The Manikarnika Ghat witnesses the perpetual cycle of birth and death, with hundreds of funeral pyres that burn on its banks.
Banaras has a rich cultural heritage, which is evident in the city’s art, music, and literature. The city has been a centre for learning for thousands of years and has produced many famous musicians, artists, and writers. Banaras Hindu University was established centuries ago by the efforts of Madan Mohan Malviya and is now known as one of the best universities in the world.
The city gave the country many famous writers and poets, such as Tulsidas, Kabir, and more. Music has evolved in Banaras for years, and the city is a hub of classical Indian music. Pandit Ravi Shankar and several other musicians have popularised Indian classical music in the West.
The gorgeous Banarasi silk weaving technique is known for its extremely intricate design and high quality. Souvenirs of Banaras include the Banarasi silk saree, shawls, and more. Do not forget to grab some Varanasi special gifting items to remember this whirlwind of a trip by.
Banaras’s cultural and historical significance can not be summarised in a few words. It is best experienced in real life when you immerse yourself in Varanasi’s sheer complexity, peace, chaos, and colour. Plan a trip to Banaras and stay at one of the family hotels in Banaras by OYO. You will find top-rated OYO Hotels near all major tourist places in the city. You can choose from a wide range of hotels that include budget stays offering all the necessities for a comfortable stay and premium family hotels in Banaras that offer complimentary services like breakfast and luxurious amenities to make your stay even more relaxing and memorable.
Banaras is a city that is a beautiful amalgamation of peace, life and death, art, culture, literature, and learning. This city has given India several gems and has proven to be a light at the end of the tunnel for many. Visitors arrive with their own questions and leave with revelations about the world. If you want to experience everything that Banaras has to offer, plan a trip to this magnificent city and book a stay at OYO Hotels.
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