Benares is supposed to be India's oldest continuously inhabited city. It has been a city of religion and learning. It's name is also Kashi – the City Of Light. It's name is also Varanasi, derived from the Varuna and Asi rivers. It was originally situated between these two rivers. The Asi has now been absorbed into the Ganges, but the Varuna exists as a polluted stream.
It is the city of Shiva, the Mahadeva, the third God in the Hindu triumvirate. It is the city where he revealed himself as a lingam of light, one without beginning and no end.
It is also the city where the Buddha gave his first sermon (at Sarnath) after he attained enlightenment.
It is the city which has the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Aurangzeb built a mosque here on the spot of the temple, and this mosque has the name Gyan Vapi, a Hindu name.
It is full of gullies where you can wander endlessly.
It is also one of the dirtiest cities that I have seen.
For those interested beyond all this, it is also the birthplace of one of our best writers – Munshi Premchand. Our second, and most under-rated Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri was born near the Ramgarh Fort.
It is a city of contradictions, as is India.
It is also the city where you can get some of the best saris in India.
All this, and much more, is this City Of Light…