World's oldest living city, Varanasi - also known as Kashi (City of Life) and Benaras, is the spiritual capital of India. It is one of Hinduism's seven holy cities. The old city of Varanasi lies along the western banks of the Ganges, spread across a labyrinth of narrow galis. Be prepared to walk on foot and encounter some holy cows! Temples at almost every turn engulf Varanasi but the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most visited and the oldest of the lot. Benaras is known as the city of Lord Shiva for a reason, and rightfully so.
Varanasi is considered an auspicious place to die, as it is believed to grant moksha or liberation from the cycle of life and death. Spiritually enlightening, the heart of the city pulsates around the ghats, about 80 of which border the Ganges. Be prepared for the sights, sounds and smells! Don't miss out on the hot chaat and cool lassi. Though, all chaos and noise on the ghats take a pause before dusk when the Ganga Aarti begins to take place, a ceremony of immense grandeur.
This divine city is also an important destination for Buddhists. Gautam Buddha preached his first sermon in Benaras, a part which is now in Sarnath.
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