The History and antiquity of varanasi
Kasi or Varanasi is one of the most ancient, famous and holiest of the holy Hindu pilgrim centers. It is situated between two small streams that flow into the river Ganges, Varana on its northern border and Asi (or Assi) on its southern border, from whom it derives its name Varanasi. The name Kasi is derived from either its original founder or a dynasty that ruled it or the kingdom with which it was associated. According to another theory the place might have got its name from a grass named Kusa that grew wildly in the region where the city was built.
Varanasi or Kashi is older than traditions. Varanasi presents a unique combination of physical, metaphysical and supernatural elements. According to the Hindu mythology, Varanasi liberates soul from human body to the ultimate. It is the Ganga Ghats of Varanasi that complement the concept of divinity. Ghats of Ganga are perhaps the holiest spots of Varanasi. The Ganga Ghats at Varanasi are full of pilgrims who flock to the place to take a dip in the holy Ganges, which is believed to absolve one from all sins.
Sarnath, about 10 km from the holy city of Varanasi, is the place where Buddha chose to deliver his first sermon. The celebrated Mantra, 'Buddham Sharanam Gachhami', owes its origin to Sarnath. On the day before his death Buddha included Sarnath along with Lumbini, Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar as the four places he thought to be sacred to his followers. It makes Sarnath one of the most venerated Buddhist places. Besides Buddhism, Sarnath is also connected with Jainism.
New Vishwanath Temple
The new Vishwanath temple of Varanasi is located in the premises of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU). It is also called the Birla temple as the famous industrialist family of India, the Birlas, constructed it. The New Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to lord Shiva and is a replica of the original Vishwanath temple. The temple is built in white marbles, and was planned by Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of the Banaras Hindu University. The most important characteristic of the new Vishwanath temple is that it is open to people from all castes and religions. The huge campus of New Vishwanath Temple is a delight to the eyes of visitor. The interior has a Siva lingam and verses from Hindu scriptures are inscribed on the walls.
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