Varanasi is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and the spiritual capital of India. Located on the banks of the sacred Ganges River in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is a magical city overflowing with color, chaos, and rituals dating back thousands of years. For Hindus, Varanasi is considered the holiest of cities, seen as a place to wash away sins in the Ganges and attain moksha or liberation from the cycle of life and death. This mystical and captivating city is filled with ancient temples, fragrant food markets, riverside palaces, and funeral pyres that burn nonstop. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in fascinating culture and see one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites, Varanasi should be at the top of your India itinerary. Here are 15 Interesting Fun Facts about Varanasi that you must know.
15 Fun Facts about Varanasi
1. Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with evidence of settlement dating back over 3,000 years.
2. The city is located on the banks of the Ganges River, which is considered sacred in Hinduism. Devout Hindus believe bathing in the Ganges washes away sins.
3. Varanasi is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. Millions come to bathe in the Ganges and visit temples like Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
4. The city has over 100 ghats – stone steps leading to the banks of the Ganges. Manikarnika Ghat is one of the main cremation ghats where funeral pyres burn constantly.
5. Varanasi is known for its fine silk and brocade fabrics, ornate saris, gold threadwork, carpets, woodwork, and brassware.
6. The city is full of narrow, winding alleys lined with shrines and small shops selling all kinds of wares. Cows freely roam the streets alongside motorbikes and pedestrians.
7. One of Varanasi’s nicknames is “City of Lights” because of the thousands of oil lamps and fire ceremonies held on the Ganges each evening.
8. Varanasi is considered one of the holiest sites to die in for Hindus, who believe dying here helps liberate one’s soul.
9. Varanasi is home to Banaras Hindu University, one of Asia’s largest residential universities with over 20,000 students.
10. The city has a subtropical climate, with very hot summers and cool, dry winters. June is the hottest month, with highs around 45°C (113°F).
11. Varanasi is known for its betel leaves, a traditional Indian chewing product that stains the mouth red. Paan, as it’s called, is often served at weddings and festivals.
12. The city is a center of music, art, and literature. Famous Indian writers like Premchand and Tulsidas spent time here.
13. Varanasi has over 2,000 temples, including the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple and the monkey temple Durga Temple.
14. The city is referenced in the Hindu scriptures as Kashi, the “luminous city as an eminent seat of learning.”
15. Varanasi has its own style of classical Indian music called the Benares gharana. The instruments sitar and tabla originated here.
With its maze of chaotic alleys, constant religious ceremonies, and timeless rituals on the banks of the Ganges, Varanasi offers an unforgettable look at one of the world’s oldest living civilizations. The city’s colorful history, ornate silk fabrics, divine temples, and central role in Hinduism come together to create an enchanting, spiritual place that has captivated visitors for thousands of years. From savoring banana lassi and watching the sunrise over the river to exploring galis by rickshaw and hearing sitar played at ramshackle cafes, Varanasi is guaranteed to dazzle the senses and provide a magical glimpse into India’s past, present, and future.