Varanasi city is situated in the north India and is also the administrative headquarters of the district of Varanasi in state of Uttar Pradesh. The city is situated on Western Bank of river Ganga. Throughout its history, the city has been known by a number of names: Anandvana (the forest of bliss); Kashi (the city of light); Banaras (a name derived from rivers Varuna and Asi that flow into Ganga), Benares and finally Varanasi. For a brief period, city was also named Mohammadabad by the Mughal King Aurangazeb. It is regarded as holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains and is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. to the Hindus, the city of Benares is the holiest place in the world, a sacred city and a place of pilgrimage.
Varanasi has been a centre of learning, enlightenment, culture and civilization for more than 3000 years. The city was located on the old trade route and was also mentioned by famous Chinese traveler Xuanzang. The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with river Ganga and the river’s religious importance. People often refer to Varanasi as the city of temples, the holy city of India, the religious capital of India, the city of learning, culture capital of India et al.
The city was birth place of the famous Benares Gharana form of Indian classical music. The city was home to many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers and musicians, like Kabir, Ravi Dass, Munshi Prem Chand et al, to name a few. Tulsidas wrote his Ramacharitamanas here, while Gautam Budha gave his first sermon at Sarnath (near Kashi). Ayurveda is also said to have originated here. The built heritage of the city comprises of numerous ghats on the bank of river Ganga (used for various purposes like bathing, rituals, cremating dead bodies et al); numerous temples (the most famous amongst which is Kashi Vishwanath, dedicated to Lord Shiva); the old city (marked by crowded narrow lanes flanked by road-side shops and scores of temples); palaces; stupas. Historically, Varanasi has been famous for muslin and silk fabrics (& its art of silk weaving), perfumes, ivory works and sculpture, textiles such as hand-woven carpets and handicrafts, brassware, copperware, glass bangles, wood and clay toys, musical instruments and exquisite gold jewellery.