Varanasi History, India
Varanasi is considered to be the holiest city of Hinduism, and the oldest city of the world. This is the city where Lord Kashi Vishwanath temple was built in 1780 on Ganges river banks, by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore.
Being such an old city, Varanasi takes pride in its age old history dating back 2500 years. The first settlers of the city of Varanasi were Aryan tribes who had come from the north to make their home here.
Legend says that Varanasi was made the home of Lord Shiva after his marriage to Parvati. It is said that he had never left the land ever since, and this is why and how Varanasi has grown into the important pilgrimage center it is today.
Varanasi- land of Lord Buddha
There is repeated reference of Varanasi in the Indian epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata and in Buddhist Jataka tales. Another legend says that Varanasi was visited by Lord Buddha in the year 500 BC, and it was on the outskirts of Varanasi that he had preached his first sermon.
The history of Varanasi is such that the city is considered to be a melting confluence of different cultures because of the intimacy with Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. The reason why the Jains venerate Varanasi so much is because this is the city where their three Tirthankaras were born.
As Varanasi was located on an important commercial course, the city was important for trade and commerce in the 7th century. With this, there was continuous flourishing of the city from the 7th to 15th century. However, in the 1400s, Varanasi was routed by the Afghans, and had to be completely rebuilt after it.
Varanasi as an important trade center
Besides its location making Varanasi an important trade route, the center was the target of numerous rulers. Mahmud of Ghazni, Sultan Allaudin Khilji and the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb are some of the Muslim rulers who had ruled over Varanasi. In their rule, many temples and old structures of the city were unfortunately destroyed.
Varanasi was the place where the Bhakti movement originated by people like Kabir and Ramananda. Another famous person of Varanasi is Tulsidas, famous for translating the Ramayana from Sanskrit to Hindi.
It is the rare manuscripts of the city, folk traditions which are still followed and the people of Varanasi who keep the history of Varanasi alive. And with Varanasi housing the Benaras Hindu University, the Theosophical society and other literature and art stalwarts, it is true that the history of Varanasi is a rich one.
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