Varanasi has been a cultural centre of North India for several thousand years, and is closely associated with the Ganges. Hindus believe that death in the city will bring salvation, making it a major centre for pilgrimage. The city is known worldwide for its many ghats, embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions.
According to legend, Varanasi was founded by the god Shiva. There happened a fight between the two supreme gods, Brahma and Shiva, and the succeeding combat resulted in one of the four heads of Brahma being torn off by Shiva.
Varanasi originates from the names of the two rivers: Varuna, still flowing in Varanasi, and Asi, a small stream near Assi Ghat.
The earliest known archaeological evidence suggests that settlement around Varanasi in the Ganga valley began in the 11th or 12th century BC, placing it among the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities.
The famous Chinese traveler Xuanzang, who visited the city around 635 AD, attested that the city was a centre of religious and artistic activities, and that it extended for about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) along the western bank of the Ganges.
In ancient times, Varanasi was connected by a road starting from Taxila and ending at Pataliputra during the Mauryan Empire.
In 1194, the city succumbed to Turkish Muslim rule under Qutb-ud-din Aibak, who ordered the destruction of some one thousand temples in the city.\
More from the History
- Sushruta, the great surgeon and author of the Sushruta Samhita, the Sanskrit text of surgery lived in Varanasi.
- It is the city where Lord Buddha preached his first ceremon after his enlightenment. Currently, it is known as Sarnath.
- Varanasi (Kashi) was the home of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and it is believed that if one dead here or buried after death, he would be attain salvation. There are Harishchand Ghat & Manikarnika Ghat where lots of dead body daily buried.
- From old ages, it is become the center of trade and commerce. It is famous for Banarasi silks, silver and gold brocades from years ago.
- It is also the home of the brilliant writer Munshi Prem Chand who earned a great name in Hindi literature. The great poet Kabir Das, Ravi das also stay in Varanasi like as the home.