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Benares (also known as Banaras, Kashi, Kasi and Varanasi) is a Hindu holy city on the banks of the river Ganga or Ganges in the modern north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It has been a seat of knowledge from about 700 BC onwards. Its universities attracted students from all over the then-known world.

Benares is the site of the holy shrine of Lord Kasi Viswanatha (a form of Lord Shiva); this, along with its positional advantage of being on the banks of the Ganga, has given it a place at the forefront of the Hindu religion.It is believed that bathing in the Ganga or dying in the holy city circumvents re-incarnation and hence provides a permanent place in the Swarg (Heaven), a belief that has encouraged the establishment of innumerable nearby geriatric homes and also the disposal of half burnt corpses into the river. This latter practice continues to cause an irrevocable damage to the river's ecology. One other major contaminator of the river is Kanpur's leather industry. The ministry of water resources has finally taken up the restoration of the Ganga in a big way by banning cremation on the city's ghats (ghats are the banks of a holy river, often, as at Benares, stepped to facilitate bathing) and closing down a few of the tanneries of Kanpur, which do not conform to the national standards.

Benares is also the home of the Banaras Hindu University, one of the most prestigious in the country and an international center for Indological study. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, a renowned educationist, was the founder.

The modern name Varanasi is derived from the twin tributaries of Ganga Varana and Asi on whose shores the city stands. Indian Railways runs a major diesel locomotive factory in Benares.

Religious Places

BY AIR: Varanasi has its own airport which is 22 Kms from the city. The Babatpur airport connects Varanasi with all the major cities in India and recently there has been a proposal to initiate UP Air which will connect the city with other places in the state.

BY RAIL: Varanasi has two railway stations-Kashi and Varanasi Junction (also Cantonment Station). The Rajdhani Express from Delhi or from Calcutta is your best bet to reach Varanasi in 8-9 hours. Even though there are not many trains running directly between Delhi and Varanasi, most Delhi-Calcutta trains pass through Mughalsarai, which is 10 km south of Varanasi

BY ROAD: The place is well connected by roads to all the corners of the nation. Varanasi provides some good market for many items. People come here for the temples in big number and major inflow of visitors is handled by the bus services from Varanasi to other places in state and outside it.

Route: Delhi-Mathura-Agra-Kanpur-Allahabad-Varanasi, Distance: 780 Kms.