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Famous for its beautiful Ghats (over 100) and temples (over 1,000), Varanasi--also called Benaras and Kasi--is to the Hindus what Mecca is to the Muslims and Vatican to the Christians. Varanasi presents all that is beautiful and divine in Hinduism. No wonder, Hindus from all over the world make it a point to visit the holy city, at least once in their life.
Varanasi finds mention in the Rigveda, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata. Founded over 5,000 years ago, Varanasi is probably the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. To quote Mark Twain, Varanasi is, "Older than history, older than legend, and looks as old as all of them put together". In the ancient India, Varanasi was the capital of the Kingdom of Kashi.
The beauty of the ancient city is that despite being destroyed and ravaged many times over by some of the Muslim invaders such as Mahmud Ghazni and Mohammad Ghori, it not only managed to survive but continued to show the right path to the millions of Hindus from all over the world.
Besides being the religious capital of the Hindus, Varanasi is also the cultural capital of India. Interestingly, it occupies a high place in the hearts of not only the Hindus but the Buddhists and Jains. Sarnath, the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon, is located near Varanasi.
The city's claim to world fame and glory hinges on some other facts also. Tulsidas wrote Ramcharitmanas here. Ayurveda, the ancient art of alternate healing, has its origin in Varanasi. The Varanasi brassware and silk works are much loved for their finesse and beauty and have few parallels elsewhere.
The cuisine also of the city is well-known and much loved. And so is the Benarasi Paan (a sweetmeat made of areca nut and other fragmented substances wrapped in a betel leaf) which finds much favour with the lovers of paan who simply love the unique taste and aroma of the Benarasi paans.
Varanasi is 780 kms away from New Delhi and is well connected by road, rail and air.