Varanasi – A Popular Hindu Pilgrim Place
By Smitakshi Guha
Situated on the banks of holy River Ganges in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi, also known by the names of Banaras and Kashi, is a popular Hindu pilgrim place, known for its popular and holy pilgrimage. It is also regarded as the spiritual capital of India and in both the religions of Hinduism and Jainism, it happens to be the holiest among the seven holiest cities of the country, a constellation traditionally termed as the Sapta Puri. The other six cities from this lot are Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kanchipuram, Ujjain, and Dwarka.
Varanasi is known for its multidimensional religious significances, wherein Buddhism states that the founder of the religion, Lord Buddha had founded Buddhism here, when he had delivered his very first sermon, “The setting in motion of the wheel of Dharma” during the era as ancient as 528 BC.
In Hinduism, the city grew to prominent during the 8th century, when popular philosopher and theologian Adi Shankara established the worship of Lord Shiva here as the traditional sect. Popular scholar and author Tulsidas, wrote the famous Ram Charit Manas, a widely renowned poem on Lord Rama, sitting here in Varanasi. Coming to Sikhism, it is said that the founder of the religion: Guru Nanak Dev had visited the city in the year 1507 during the festival of Shivaratri and this trip had a pivotal role to play in his journey to coin the new religion of Sikhism.
According to Hindu mythology and beliefs, it is said that one who faces death in this city gets his salvation and freedom from the circle of life, in other words, moksha. Being closely knit with the River Ganges, a lot of the day to day rituals of the temples here are associated with the holy river. There are more than 23,000 temples in the city, among which the most prominent ones are the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, the Durga Temple, to name a few.
For the Muslims too, the place attracts many devotees, who take keen interest as they visit the famous mosques located here, namely, the Alamgiri Mosque and the Gyanvapi Mosque.
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