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Varanasi is the most important Hindu pilgrimage centre and one of the 7 sacred cities. Every pious Hindu has a wish to visit this city once in life while many others wish to be cremated here after death for solace. Also known as Kashi or Benaras, the city is situated on the banks of river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. According to legend, the city was founded by the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva, around 5,000 years ago. It is believed to one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Most of Hindu religious scriptures, including the Rigveda, Skanda Purana, Ramayana, and the Mahabharata, mention the city. During the time of Lord Buddha in 567 BCE, Varanasi was the capital of Kashi Kingdom. It was a great centre of learning and famous Chinese Traveler Xuanzang attested that. Varanasi is equally important to Buddhist. Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon to his disciples in Sarnath, 7 km from the city.

Area 1550 sq km
Population 31,48,105 (2001)
Altitude 80 M (265 ft)
Rainfall 1110 mm (July to October)
STD Code 0542
Location 25°16′55″N 82°57′23″E / 25.282°N 82.9563°E

Climate :
Varanasi has prolonged summer like many other cities of northern plains. The humid conditions prevail during the summer and monsoon season. Average low of 30◦C and high of 42◦C prevails from April to September. Winter temperature sharply drops from December to February. Average temperature during winter remains from low of 5 to 7◦C to 25-27◦C.

Places of Interest :
Varanasi, city of temples, Ashrams, Yoga centres and Ganges. There are hundreds of temples and nearly same number of ghats on the river Ganges. One can see number of Ashrams and community living centres built by various religious bodies for the pilgrims. The most important temples are Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Bharat Mata Temple with a big relief map of India, Tulsi Manas Mandir, Durga Temple, Birla Temple and many others. Amongst the famous ghats, the most important is Dashashwamedh. In the evening a spectacular lamp lit Aarti (prayers) is performed at sunset time dedicated to Goddess Ganges.

Sarnath which has a fine museum housing rare collection of sculptures and scriptures relating to Lord Buddha is 7 km from city. Ramnagar Fort built in 18th century lies 14 km is located on the opposite banks of river Ganga. The home or erstwhile noble King Kashmi Naresh Balwant, it has a museum containing historic objects, armory of the Royal family. Bharat Kala Bhavan and Archaeological Museum are other important places to visit.

Traveling to Varanasi :

By Air : Varanasi is connected with Delhi, Khajuraho, Lucknow, Mumbai & Kathmandu

By Train : Mughal Sarai is a major junction which is well connected with many cities in India. Varanasi Junction is the city railway station. Regular train services operate to Varanasi from Delhi, Agra, Jhansi, Lucknow, Patna, Gaya, Kolkata, Haridwar, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Gwalior, Bhopal, Mumbai, New Jalpaiguri, Secunderabad, Bangalore, Chennaui and many other.

By Road :Allahabad (120 km), Patna,(200 km), Bodhgaya (225 km), Lucknow (325 km), Chitrakot (260 km), Ayodhya (209 km ), Kushinagar (265 km ), Khajuraho (400 km)

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