Benares, the holiest city in Hinduism

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Tourism and religion Many times they go hand in hand. In fact, throughout the planet we can find numerous temples, monuments or places of great importance for different beliefs. This is the case of the Vatican, Bethlehem, Lourdes, Santiago de Compostela ... Many of these places are visited every year by religious people but there are also many tourists without any kind of faith who are attracted by the buildings themselves or by the culture and culture. tradition of certain places.

Today we want to tell you about one of those destinations that is intimately related to religion. We refer to Varanasi, which is considered one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism. Would you like to discover more details about this beautiful place? Well, we recommend that you do not miss anything that we tell you below.

Origins of Benares

Benares is an Indian city located on the banks of the river Ganges. Specifically it is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh. According to legend, the city was created by the god Shivá some 3,000 years before the birth of Christ, a date that does not exactly coincide with that of archaeologists, who believe that Benares is about 4,000 years old. In addition, historians assure that it was a religious center dedicated to Suriá, God of the Sun for the Hindus. Thus, from its beginnings it was a place closely related to the region. Later, during the Buddha era (6th century BC), the city also became a commercial and industrial center. Like many other places in the world, Benares has also suffered attempts to end the prevailing religion. For example, in the 17th century it was attacked by a Mughal emperor, who wanted to destroy Hinduism. Unfortunately, during the 20th and 21st centuries the city has also been the victim of attacks.

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Varanasi and religion

Also known as Kashi (meaning "the city of light"), Benares is today the epicenter of the Hindu faith, as is Mecca for Muslims and Jerusalem for Christians. This is due, among other things, to the belief that one of the four heads of the god Brahmá managed to rest upon reaching this city. Furthermore, mythology also claims that the left hand of Shivá's wife, Satí, fell in this city. In fact, temples dedicated to these two can be found in Varanasi divinities. Furthermore, bathing in the Ganges River is believed to purify sins. As if this were not enough, according to the Hindu faith, the people who die in Varanasi are released from the cycle of reincarnations. Therefore, Hindus must visit this place once in a lifetime, so many old and sick people move to this place to spend their last days. It is important to note that Benares is also a holy city for Buddhists and Jains.

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Places of interest

Although it is a sacred place, the truth is that in Benares there are not many places of interest, although the simple fact of touring the city is already a unique experience. Among its main attractions are the ghats, some stairs distributed along the entire bank of the Ganges as it passes through this holy city. It is a stone staircase built in the eighteenth century where Hindus bathe to purify themselves and then pray in the temples. In two of these stairs are the main crematoriums in Benares. The Golden Temple, which is dedicated to the god Shivá, also attracts attention from the city; the Gyanvapi Mosque, which was built on a Hindu temple; and the Bharat Mata Temple, a temple that was opened by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936.

Then we leave you with our Gallery, where you will find more images of this beautiful Indian city. Do not miss it!

The holy city of Varanasi - The Ganges with Sue Perkins: Episode 2 - BBC One (November 2023)

  • Varanasi, religious
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