Varanasi, also known as Benaras, Banaras or Kashi is on the banks of the holy river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, about 300 km from Lucknow the capital of U.P. and about 100 plus Km from Allahabad the city of the Triveni Sangam and Kumbh Mela. Varanasi is considered one of the holiest cities in India and the world, and is well-connected to all parts of India by road, rail and air. Benaras is also known for its famous muslin and silk fabrics since centuries.
Considered the spiritual capital of India Benaras has been an important centre for Hinduism and Jainism and a place from where Buddhism got propagated.
This city has always been closely associated with religious leaders and rulers of different faiths yet has maintained an identity of its own. Buddha was said to have begun his journey in Buddhism from here in 528 B.C. and had given his first sermon at Sarnath. In the 8th century Adi Sankracharya the Hindu spiritual guru had established the worship of Lord Shiva here. The city also came under the influence of Muslim rulers since quite long and they brought in not religion alone but also weaving and handicrafts – an excellence that has endured till this day. People like Sant Kabir and Ravidas brought in the Bhakti Movement. Guru Nanak Dev visited in 1507 and this visit was supposed to have played a role in the founding of Sikhism. The tolerant Mughal emperor Akbar, got two large temples of Lords Shiva and Vishnu built here. Subsequently the building of the city to its present stature is credit to the rule of the Marathas and Bhumihars in the 18th century.
Benaras has got its share of political importance with the association of Pandit Jawahrlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Free India being from close-by Allahabad and now Shri Narendra Modi also choosing Varanasi as his constituency won from here to become the 16th Prime Minister of Free India.
Heavy and Medium Industries as well as handlooms, crafts and carpet making are a major source of employment in this city. Culture and Arts have thrown up a large number of philosophers, poets, danseuses, writers, musicians from this place not to mention leaders of technological excellence from the famed institution, the Banaras Hindu University with its Institute of Technology also.