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    Varanasi - the city of life and death

    With the first rays of the morning sun on the banks of the Ganges River, an elderly person stretches out his hands towards the slowly rising ball of fire and says "namaste" (admiration and glorification of the Almighty). Such scenes have been repeated every day for over three thousand years in Varanasi, the holy city of India. Observing what is happening on the banks of the Ganges River, one gets the impression of a city frozen in time. Varanasi is an important religious site in the world of Hinduism, a center of pilgrimage for Hindus from all over the world, as ancient as Babylon or Thebes. Here, more than anywhere else, the contradictions of human existence are manifested: life and death, hope and suffering, youth and old age, joy and despair, brilliance and poverty. This is a city in which there is so much death and life at the same time. This city, in which eternity and being coexist. This is the best place to understand what India is, its religion and culture.
    In the religious geography of Hinduism, Varanasi is the center of the universe. One of the most sacred cities for Hindus serves as a kind of line between physical reality and eternity of life. Here the gods descend to earth, and a mere mortal attains bliss. It is a holy place to live and a blessed place to die. This is the best place to achieve bliss.
    Varanasi's prominence in Hindu mythology is unmatched. According to legend, the city was founded by the Hindu God Shiva several thousand years ago, making it one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the country. It is one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus. In many ways, he embodies the best and worst sides of India, sometimes terrifying foreign tourists. Nevertheless, the scenes of pilgrims saying a prayer in the rays of the rising sun by the Ganges River, against the backdrop of Hindu temples, is one of the most impressive sights in the world. When traveling in northern India, try not to bypass this ancient city.
    Founded a thousand years before the birth of Christ, Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was named with many epithets - "the city of temples", "the sacred city of India", "the religious capital of India", "the city of fires", "the city of enlightenment" - and only recently its official name was restored, which was first mentioned in the Jataki - an ancient story Hindu literature. But many still continue to use the English name Benares, and the pilgrims call it nothing but Kashi - this is how the city was named for three thousand years.
    For millennia, Varanasi has been the center of philosophy and theosophy, medicine and education. English writer Mark Twain, shocked by his visit to Varanasi, wrote: "Benares (old name) is older than history, older than tradition, even older than legends, and looks twice as old as all of them put together." Many famous and most revered Indian philosophers, poets, writers and musicians have resided in Varanasi. In this glorious city lived the classic of Hindi literature Kabir, sings and writer Tulsidas wrote the epic poem Ramacharitamanas, which became one of the most famous works of literature in the Hindi language, and Buddha delivered his first sermon in Sarnath, just a few kilometers from Varanasi. Glorified by myths and legends, sanctified by religion, it has always attracted a large number of pilgrims and believers since time immemorial.
    Varanasi is located between Delhi and Kolkata on the western bank of the Ganges. Every Indian child who has listened to their parents' stories knows that the Ganges is the largest and most holy of all rivers in India. The main reason for visiting Varanasi is, of course, to see the Ganges River. The significance of the river for the Hindus is beyond description. It is one of the 20 largest rivers in the world. The Ganges River basin is the most populous in the world, with a population of over 400 million. The Ganges is an important source of irrigation and communication for the millions of Indians living along the river. From time immemorial, she was worshiped as the goddess Ganges. Historically, a number of capitals of the former principalities were located on its banks.
    To devout Hindus, the Ganges River meant what the earth goddess Ganga meant to the ancient Greeks: the giver of life, help and salvation. Hindus view the Ganges River as amrita, the elixir of life, which brings purity to life and salvation to the dead. Religious beliefs of Hindus motivate them to undertake pilgrimage to Varanasi at least once during their life. Hindus believe that the Ganges River flows to earth from heaven to wash away worldly sins from mere mortals. Therefore, all life in the city is centered around the sacred river. Just before dawn, the banks of the Ganges come alive when thousands of pilgrims - men, women and children - descend to the river to meet the rising sun, and then immersion in the sacred river will cleanse them of their suffering and wash away their sins. Every day, more than 60,000 people come to the river bank to take a dip in the sacred waters of the Ganges, to raise your prayers to the forces of nature, the rising sun, deceased ancestors, carried away by the waters of the sacred river. People are attracted to the river by the firm belief that water can remove the sins of many generations.

    How to reach?

    Lal Bahadur Shastri International airport – connecting flights from Kuala Lampur, Singapore, Bangkok, Vietnam, Manila, Jakarta, Sharjah
    Varanasi Cantt Railway Station – City’s largest train station linking all major cities and tourism destinations like Agra, Lucknow, Allahabad etc.
    Well connected through National & State Highways – NH 2 to Kanpur, Agra  NH 24 to NOIDA (via Delhi), NH 24B to Allahabad, – Agra expressway

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