Varanasi (Kashi or Banaras) is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh dating to the 11th century B.C. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the city draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites. Along the city’s winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
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. Abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the origins of Varanasi are yet unknown. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals.
These few lines by Mark Twain say it all: “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”.
Varanasi has also been a great center of learning for ages. Varanasi is associated with the promotion of spiritualism, mysticism, Sanskrit, yoga and Hindi language and honored authors such as the ever-famous novelist Prem Chand and Tulsi Das, the famous saint-poet who wrote Ram Charit Manas. Aptly called as the cultural capital of India, Varanasi has provided the right platform for all cultural activities to flourish. Many exponents of dance and music have come from Varanasi. Ravi Shankar, the internationally renowned Sitar maestro, and Ustad Bismillah Khan, (the famous Shehnai player) are all sons of the blessed city or have lived here for major part of their lives.
A team from Esri India: Ms. Manjari Dhoundiyal, Ms. Palak Pandey and Mr. Utsav Sharma has created Story Map using Esri mapping technology to give a virtual tour the Holy Varanasi.