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VARANASI (UTTAR PRADESH)

Varanasi (Hindi: वाराणसी) or Benaras (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi is believed to be the holiest of all pilgrimages. Mark Twain, the English author who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Benaras, once wrote: "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together".

Origin of name Varanasi: According to the ‘VamanaPurana’, the Varuna and the Assi rivers originated from the body of the primordial person at the beginning of time itself. The tract of land lying between them is believed to be ‘Varanasi’.

Origin of name Kashi: The word ‘Kas’ means to shine. Steeped in tradition and mythological legacy. Kashi is the ‘original ground ‘created by Shiva and Parvati, upon which they stood at the beginning of time. Varanasi is a city of traditional classical culture, glorified by myth and legend and sanctified by religion. It has always attracted a large number of pilgrims and worshippers from time immemorial. Varanasi is also well known for its music, arts, crafts and education. Some of the world renowned performers India has produced in these fields were schooled in Varanasi’s cultural ethos.

Ganga Aarti is performed every day evening by a group of priests at Dashaswameghghat of Varanasi.

In addition to these, Varanasi has the art of silk weaving, an exotic work of art which demonstrates itself in precious Banarasi Silk Sarees and Silk brocades which are cherished as collector’s items across the world today.

Varanasi is situated in the Agro climatic zone of eastern plain region of Uttar Pradesh, bordering the districts of Jaunpur in the North, Ghazipur in the North East, Chandauli in the east, Mairzapur in the South and SantRavidasnagar in the West. The total area of the district is 1535 sq. km. [1]

 

History [2]

 

The land of Varanasi has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals.

Kashi vishwanath temple is in the heart of the city. This is considered as one of the Jyotirlinga of Shiva. As per the Hindu folklore, the temple must be visited once in the entire lifetime. A holy dip in Ganga River along with the 'darshan' of Lord Vishwanath is regarded as the leading way to 'Moksha' (salvation). Due to the reason, people seek to visit the place at least once in their life span. Varanasi is also a pilgrimage place for Jains. It is believed to be the birthplace of Parsvanath, the twenty-third Tirthankar. Ayurveda is said to be originated at Varanasi and is believed to be the basis of modern medical Sciences such as plastic surgery, cataract and calculus operations. MaharshiPatanjali, the educator of Ayurveda and Yoga was also affiliated with Varanasi. It is also famous for its trade and commerce, especially for the finest silks and gold and silver brocades, since the early days.

Sarnath is one of the four most important Buddhist pilgrimage places of India. It is located at a distance of 6 km to the north of Varanasi city. Buddha, the great sage, after attaining enlightenment (Buddha-hood) at Bodh Gaya came to Sarnath and delivered his first sermon.

Sarnath archaeological museum is the oldest site museum of Archaeological Survey of India.

Ramnagar is a place 14 km away from Varanasi on the opposite bank of river Ganga. The fort here has a museum which displays the Royal collection of Vintage cars, Royal palkies, an armory of swords and old guns, ivory work and antique clocks.

 

Demography [3]

 

In 2011, Varanasi had population of 3,676,841 of which male and female were 1,921,857 and 1,754,984 respectively.

Sex ratio per 1000 is 913 while child sex ratio (0-6 years) is 885.

Average literacy is about 75.60% out of which 83.78% is male literacy and 66.69% is female literacy. Total number of Literates are 2,403,903 in which 1,389,116 and 1,014,787 are male and female literates respectively.

Out of the total Varanasi population for 2011 census, 43.44 percent lives in urban regions of district. 56.56 % population of Varanasi districts lives in rural areas of villages.

 

Administration [1]

 

There are three main tehsils in Varanasi district. First one is Varanasi, second one is Pindra and another is Rajatalab. Total area of district is 1535 sq. km. Out of this, 415 sq. km. (27.04%) is in Varanasi tehsil and 415 sq. km. (27.03%) is in Rajatalabtehsil and 705 sq. km (45.93%) is in Pindratehsil.

As per censes 2011, there are 1327 revenue villages is in Varanasi district. Out of this 1258 inhibited villages and 69 non-inhibited villages. There are 8 blocks in Varanasi district. Out of 8, 3 blocks are in Varanasi tehsil namely Chiraigaon, Cholapur and Kashi Vidyapeeth& partially Harhuan and 2 blocks are in Rajatalabtehsil namely Sewapuri, Arajiline& partially Kashi Vidyapeeth and 3 blocks are in Pindratehsil namely Baragaon, Pindra and partially Harhuan. There are 108 Nyay panchayat and 702-gram panchayat in Varanasi district and also 8 Assembly Area.

 

Architecture[2] [4]

 

Varanasi is having different varieties in its architectural structures which attracts devotees of different religions.

Being ‘City of temples’ it has number of ancient temples namely Kashivishwanath temple, Annapurna temple, Sankatmochan temple and so many more. Various ghats at the riverfront of Ganga are also showing tremendous architectural skills. The city has Buddhist and Islamic architectural sites as well.

Ghats at Varanasi

The banks of a river are considered holy and terraces or steps are built there. These steps that lead into the river are called Ghats. The ghats here shows excellent architectural skills. Ghats are riverfront steps leading to the banks of the river Ganges. The city has 87 ghats. Most of the ghats are bathing and puja ceremony ghats, while a few are used as cremation sites. The ghats are of length three kilometers or more and each section has its own name.

The busiest and the ancient Ghat of Varanasi is the DasashwamedhGhat. Constructed by PeshwaBalaji Rao. It is one of the most holy bathing ghats of river Ganga.

There are also cremation places at the top of the ghats. The southern end has the Assighat which leads to many ghats ending in the Adikeshvaghat in the north. Nearby is the Tulsighat where GoswamiTulsidas lived till his death. Harishchandraghat is the cremation ghat where dead bodies are burnt round the clock. Manikarnikaghat is the other cremation ghat and the oldest. Hindus believe that only lucky people die in Varanasi.

Temples of Varanasi

The architecture of the temples is in the Nagara style of architecture of North India.

The KashiVishwanath Temple was built in the year 1780 is an important religious centre of the Hindus.  The temple complex consists of a series of smaller shrines located in a small lane called the Vishwanatha Galli near the river. It consists of a mandapa and a sanctum besides many subsidiary shrines. The sanctum has a linga made of black stone and is set into the center of the floor in a square silver altar. It has small temples for Kaalbhairav, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and VirupakshGauri.

The Durga temple was constructed in the 18th century. The Sankatmochan temple is significant for its outstanding architecture which is a perfect blend of old and the new.

Dhamekh Stupa

It is one of the most famous and Buddhist stupas located in Sarnath which was originally built during the reign of king Ashoka of the Maurya Dynasty. This massive Stupa is cylindrical in shape and built with red bricks and stone with the lower part being entirely covered with aesthetically pleasing carved stones. Presumably the base of the Stupa dates back to the Ashokan period. Veneering sandstone encase the structure till the height of 11.2 m and niches facing 8 directions that possibly held images earlier are present. The stone facing under the niches are ornamented with fine floral carvings that manifest high level of craftsmanship on stone during the period of Gupta Dynasty.

Ashoka built a pillar near Dhamekh stupa. The pillar is having four lions standing back to back which forms national emblem of India.

Ramnagar fort

It is situated 14 km from Varanasi and on the banks of river Ganga (opposite to Tulsighat). It was built by Maharaja Balwant Singh. The fort has temple and museum.

Mosques

The architecture also includes ancient mosques which were constructed by Mughal emperors during their rule on the Ganges River bank which still exists here. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb had built two mosques. Alamgir mosque has combination of both hindu and Islamic architecture. This mosque is also known as " BeniMadhavkaDarera". Curiously, the entire lower portion of the mosque is retained as a Hindu temple. Gyanvapi mosque has entrance resembling Taj Mahal.

 

Religions in Varanasi [3]

 

Hindu:     84.52%

Muslims: 14.88%

Others:    0.39%

 

Languages

 

Bhojpuri and Hindi are spoken in Varanasi and written in Devanagari scripts. Urdu is written in the Nastaliq style of the Persian alphabet.

 

Topography [1]

 

The city of Varanasi is located in the middle Ganges valley of North India, in the Eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh, along the left crescent-shaped bank of the River Ganges. The river system consists of the mighty Ganga highly revered by Hindus since ages and Gomti, Varuna, Assi, Banganga, Chandra Prabha and Karmnasa are tributaries of the Ganga, that drain the area. Being located in the Indo-Gangetic Plains of North India, the land is very fertile because low level floods in the Ganges continually replenish the soil.

 

Weather

 

During summers, weather can be as hot as 45° C and humid too as Varanasi lies at the Tropic of cancer. Torrential rains and high humidity accompanies the monsoons that usually come in late June or early July for about two months.

On the other hand, winters are pleasant and temperature dips down to about 7°C. In Varanasi, the climatic conditions are most favorable for the tourists between October to April.

 

Rivers and tributaries

 

The Name Varanasi was derived from tract of land lying in between confluence of river Varuna and Asi. Hence Varun-asi or Varanasi.  Varuna and Asi join the Ganges on the north and south borders of the city.

The Varuna river is a minor tributary of the Ganga, which is named after the god Varuna, the god of water. The Varuna river rises from Melhum at Phulpur in Allahabad district. It flows east-to-southeast for 106 kilometers via Bhadohi, Mirzapur, Jaunpur, and enters Varanasi in order to finally merge in the Ganga at Sarai Mohana.

 

Industries and enterprises [1]

 

Micro & Small enterprises and artisan units in Varanasi district

 

Serial No.

Type of industry

Employment

1

Agro based

906

2

Cotton textile

3151

3

Woolen, silk &artificial thread based clothes

4926

4

Jute & jute based

390

5

Ready-made garments &embroidery

4601

6

Wood/wooden based furniture

3526

7

Paper & paper products

581

8

Leather based

206

9

Chemical/chemical based

3031

10

Rubber, plastic & petro based

861

11

Mineral based

2101

12

Metal based

2376

13

Engineering units

3571

14

Electrical machinery &transport equipment

1301

15

Repairing & servicing

5999

 

Total

37527

 

 

 

Large scale industries

1. M/s Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited, Tarna, Varanasi.

2. M/s Gyan Mandal Mudralaya, Kabirchaura, Varanasi.

3. M/s Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi.

4. M/s Hindustan Liver Ltd., Shivdaspur, Varanasi.

5. M/s BhargavBhusan Press, TrilochanMahadev, Varanasi.

6. M/s Bholanath Industries Ltd., G.T.Road, Kachchawan, Varanasi.

7. M/s Bharat Coco-cola Beaverages Pvt. Ltd., Mehandinagar, rajatalab, Varanasi.

8. M/s Shree Agro Oils Pvt. Ltd., Agro Park, Karkhiwan, Varanasi.

9. M/s A to Z Waste Management, Daffee, Varanasi.

 

Medium Scale Enterprises

1. M/s Woolen and Osted Yarn, Kachchwan, Varanasi.

2. M/s Man Pasand Beverages Ltd., Agro Park, Karkhiwan, Varanasi.

3. M/s Jhunjhunwala Oil Mills Ltd. (Refinery Unit), Aashapur, Varanasi.

4. M/s Srinatji Bakers, Agro Park, Kaekhiwan, Varanasi.

5. M/s BB Foods (P) Ltd., Agro Park, Kaekhiwan, Varanasi.

6. M/s KIIT, Mirzamurad, G.T.Road, Varanasi.

 

Existing Clusters of Micro & Small Enterprise

Existing clusters in Varanasi district are Glass Beads, Silk Brocades Cluster, Handloom Clusters at Saraiyan, Bazardeeha, Baragaon, Harshosh, Jallipura, Lallapura, Sarimohna, Katehar.

 

DETAIL OF MAJOR CLUSTERS

A. Manufacturing Sector

1. Glass Beads cluster

2. Hi-Tech Silk weaving & Designing cluster

3. Silk Brocades cluster

4. Handloom clusters at Saraiyan, Bazardeeha, Baragaon, Harshosh, Jallalipura, Lallapura, Saraimohna, Katehar.

5. Stone Carving cluster

6. Manufacturing of bricks

7. Wood Cluster

B. Service Sector

1. Coaching Institutions

2. Hotels and Restaurants

3. Tours and Travels

4. Automobile Repairing

 

Major Exportable Item [1]

The major exportable items of M/s DLW, Varanasi is Diesel Engine and exporting to countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Bhutan, Vietnam etc.

 

 

Public health [1]

There are 202 allopathic hospitals with 4235 beds. It also has 26 Ayurvedic hospitals. There are 30 primary health centres, 6 dispensaries, 306 sub health centres. Varanasi has 70 private hospitals too.

Education and research[2]

 

·      Banaras Hindu University (B.H.U) is the largest residential university in India. At the entrance, there is the grand statue of Pandit Madan Malviya who is founder of it. BHU is organized into 6 institutes, 14 faculties and about 140 departments. It has got 4 affiliated colleges and 3 schools.

·      Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidhyapeethwas established by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta to provide alternate education arrangement getting rid of the British. Soon it became a centre of national education with Hindi as the medium of instruction.

·      Central Institute of Higher Tibetan studies is the only institute of its kind conferring education in Tibetan language. This was established by Dalai Lama. It is having an unusual collection of Buddhist texts, Tibetan books and other journals.

·      Varanasi is the centre for yoga, meditation, Ayurveda and Astrology. The city has separate faculties for each of these. Banaras Hindu University, SanghSankatMochan International Yoga & Meditation Centre, Man MandirBhringSanhitakendra, Bhadaini Centre for Yoga & Meditation are some of the centres.

 

Transport and Connectivity [2]

Varanasi is easily accessible from all parts of the country. Very well connected by road, rail and air, the City of. offers convenient and comfortable travelling options to and from other cities of India.

Airways

Indian Airlines flies to Babatpur airport which is 22 km from Varanasi and 30 km from Sarnath. There is a direct, daily flight connection between Varanasi and New Delhi. It also connects Varanasi to Delhi, Agra, Khajuraho, Calcutta, Mumbai, Lucknow and Bhuvaneshwar.

Railways

Varanasi is an important and major rail junction. The city is served by trains from all metros and major cities across the country. The city is connected to New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Gwalior, Meerut, Indore, Guwahati, Allahabad, Lucknow, Dehradun.

National highways

Varanasi is connected to the rest of the countryvia National Highways. Some of them are NH2 from Calcutta to Delhi, NH7 to Kanyakumari and NH29 to Gorakhpur. Some important road distances are: Agra 565 km., Allahabad 128 km., Bhopal 791 km., Bodhgaya 240 km., Kanpur 330 km., Khajuraho 405 km., Lucknow 286 km., Patna 246 km., Sarnath 10 km., Lumbini (Napal) 386 km., Kushi Nagar 250 km. (via Gorakhpur).

Local transport

Private taxis are available from travel agencies, hotels, etc., rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and three wheelers are also readily available. But on some routes specially the old Varanasi areas of temples and markets, one-way traffic is maintained. And on that routes rickshaws or big vehicles are not permitted.

 

Shopping in Banaras [2]

·      Varanasi is renowned for ‘Banarasi Saree’ which is a world famous, most elegant and prestigious Indian costume woven by the laborious weavers’ community. The sarees are made with finely woven silk material and intricate with gold, silver embroidery. Some varieties of banarasi sarees are janla, tanchoi, cutwork, butidar, tissu and vaskat which are made of silk on plain ground base, broacaded with extra weft patterns in different layouts.

·      Ivory work, brassware, wood, copperware, glass bangles, stone and clay toys and exquisite gold jewellery are some of the other crafts the city is famous for. Bhadohi Carpets and musical instruments are among the other shopping attractions.

·      The main shopping areas are Chowk, VishwanathGali, Thatheri Bazar, Lahurabir, Godoulia, Dashswamedh Gail, Golghar and Dalmandi.

 

Food and cuisine[3] [5]

 

A very famous winter delight here is malaiyo. This sweet is prepared from milk and some drops of dew. That is the reason why it is prepared during only four months of winter season.

The vegetarian delicacies are majorly prepared in desi ghee and mustard oil, be it spicy, sweet or sour. Most Varanasi sweets have a milk and ghee base like the Magdal, SankatMochankeLaddoo, ParvalMithai, Kheer Mohan and Launglata among others.

Banarasipaan is famous worldwide for its taste. Ingredients of paan are the same but the process of making and the way paan makers serve is different and unique.

 

 

Festivals [2] [5]

Almost every Indian festival is celebrated in Varanasi. But some festivals are of very much importance which are Mahashivratri, Buddha Purnima, Hanuman jayanti, Ramleela. Apart from celebrating these festivals, many fair commonly known as melas are held here.

Buddha Purnima is the festival that celebrates birth of Lord Buddha. A large fair is also held at Sarnath on this day.

Ramleela is performed in Ramnagar in a very unique style. This was started by Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh. This has become famous worldwide now.

Ganga mahotsav is also an important festival celebrated in the month of October November. The concluding day coincides with the unique traditional festival of Dev Deepavali (light festival of Gods), when more than a million earthen lamps (Diyas) are lit on the Ghats of Ganga.

 

Art, dance & music [2]

·      Music is considered as a soul of life. Every land has its own treasure of music. According to Pauranic legends (traditional Hindu books), it is reported that Lord Shiva developed the forms of dance and music. Renu (son of Vishwamitra) and Mahagovind brought Aryan traditions & Vedic culture with them here.

·      Saints like Sur, Kabeer, Raidas, Meera, Tulsi made rich and valuable contributions to the Devotional Music and their Bhajans are still very popular. Ascetics of Banaras sing NirgunBhajans on Khanjari or Ektara.

·      Banaras was a centre of this Dhrupad style of music. It has a galaxy of greatDhrupadias like Swami Haridas, Baijiu, Tansen, Gopal Nayak who made the country vibrate with their music.

·      Banaras developed unique BanarasiThumri, Dadra, Chaiti, Hori, Bhairavi, Kajri, Tarana, Ghato and many more. Shehnai Maestro UstadBismillah Khan isnow famous all over the world. The famous Sitar Maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar was born in Banaras.

·      One musical instrument belongs to Banaras is ‘Saarangi’. Some great saarangis are Birai Ganesh, Sursahai, Aashiq Ali, Munshi Ram, Siyaji, Pannalal, Gopal Mishra, Maulvi Mishra, Sarju and Baijnath.

·      Some vocalists from here are Rasoolan,Vidyadhari,Badimotia, Siddheshwari,Girja Devi etc.

References

 

[1] http://dcmsme.gov.in/dips/DIP,%20Varanasi.pdf

[2] http://varanasi.nic.in/default.htm

[3] https://www.census2011.co.in/census/district/568-varanasi.html

[4] http://www.uptourism.gov.in/

[5] http://uttarpradesh.gov.in/en/home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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