Venerable Varanasi, the 'Abode of Lord Shiva' is one of the oldest living cities in the world. The legendary city also called as Banaras abounds with a rich and vibrant past. The city of traditional classical culture is glorified by myths and legends and sanctified by religion. Its position in Hindu mythology is virtually unrivalled and the city is regarded as the microcosm of Hinduism Varanasi's antiquity is veiled in immortal time and mythological legends. The city is said to be created by none other than Lord Shiva himself and the Puranic literature dates its existence to at least three millennia. Mark Twain, an American author was overawed by the reputation of the city and once wrote that "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together" The early history of Varanasi is replete with hoary tales of plunder and destruction by conquerors and religious zealots. But, the city has risen again and again like a phoenix from the ashes.
Kashi, the mythological name of this eternal city is said to be derived from the word 'Kasha', meaning shine or bright, as it was considered to be the 'city of light or spiritual luminance The present name Varanasi is a combination of Varuna and Asi, the two tributaries of Ganga flowing along the northern and southern borders of the holy city. The string of ghats along the River Ganga, where most of the city temples are located attracts a large number of pilgrims from dawn to dusk to pray and take a sin cleansing dip in the holy Ganga. The divine grace of this city lies in its unique combination of physical, metaphysical and supernatural elements Ghats of Varanasi are natural supplement to the concept of divinity. It is a city which liberates soul from human body to ultimate. The much quoted Sanskrit sloka proclaims 'Kasyam maranam mukti' (death in Kashi is Liberation)
How to Reach
The LalBahadur Shastri International Airport at badatpur is about 26kms. from varanasi and 30kms. from sarnath.It is well connected with flights from Delhi, Lucknow, Gaya, Khajuraho, Kolkata and Mumbai etc. It became an international airport in 2012.
Varanasi is one of the most important railway junctions of the country. Every day around 240 trains pass through the station and 3.6 lakh passengers board or alight here. Varanasi Junction, popularly known as Varanasi Cantt. is the main station, which is connected by rail with major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Gwalior. Meerut, Indore, Guwahati, Allahabad, Lucknow, Dehradun etc. Mughal Sarai has been another important railhead located just 16 kms. from Varanasi.
Varanasi is very well connected by road. It lies on the Delhi - Kolkata NH 2, which connects it to Kolkata, Kanpur, Agra and Delhi. The NH 29 links the city to Gorakhpur and northeast and NH 7 to Kanniyakumari connects Varanasi to important Southern India towns.
Some important rood routes are : Agra 606 kms. Allahabad (125) - Kanpur (195) - Etawah (167) -Agra (119).; Allahabad 125 kms. Bhopal 757 kms. Allahabad (125) - Fatehpur (118) - Banda (75) - Chhattarpur (102) - Sagar (154) - Bhopal (183) Bodhgaya 240 kms. Mughal Sarai (15) - Mohania (52) - Sasaram (49) - Dehri-on-Son (19) - Aurangabad (27) - Dhobi (59) - Bodh Gaya (22). Delhi 710 kms. Allahabad (125) - Kanpur (195) - Etawah (167) - Aligarh (87) - Delhi (134) Kanpur 320 kms. Allahabad (125) - Kanpur (195) Khajuraho 406 kms. Rewa (253) - Khajuraho (153) Kushi Nagar 250 kms. Ghazipur (69) - Dohri (79) - Gorakhpur (58) - Kushinagar (53) Lucknow 320 kms. Jaunpur (58) - Rae Bareilly (176) - Lucknow (86) Lumbini (Nepal) 320 kms. Gorakhpur (212) -Lumbini (108) Nalanda 334 kms. Sasaram (116) - Dhobi (105) - Gaya (30) - Hisua (44) - Rajgir (22) Nalanda (13) Patna 246 kms. Ghazipur (69) - Arrah (125) - Patna (55) Rajgir 317 kms. Sasaram (116) - Dhobi (105) - Gaya (30) - Hisua (44) - Rajgir (22) Sarnath 10 kms.,
Direct Bus Service Varanasi has a regular network of U.P and M.P. Roadways buses, connecting important cities of the state. There are also private bus operators. UPSRTC Bus Stand, Sher Shah Suri Marg, Golgadda Bus Stand.
Local Transport Private taxis, auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and Tempos are available. City bus service covers most of the city. One can also hire ferry / boats to see the ghats along the river.