Saturday, September 16, 2006

Benares- Varanasi

Benarés or Varanasi, city of the north of India, is in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the northern border of the Ganges river.
It is located in a fertile region in which sugar cane and cereals are grown. The city is also an important commercial center.
Brocades of silk, gold thread and silver are woven, filigree works and brass articles. Benarés is all year crowded with Indian pilgrims, you will distinguish by his dhotis or lunghis tied to the height of the knee, the shaved women, their different type of jewelry.

There are some buildings constructed during the sixteenth century, although the kingdom of Kashi occupied its present location in the antiquity. The Hindus consider the city holy; the travellers arrive at Benarés from everywhere and the stories of these pilgrimages go back to century VII.
Great multitudes meet along the sacred river Ganges, where embankments (or ghats) lead to the water. The Hindus think that the immersion in the Ganges purifies the sins and that to die in its borders leads to salvation; some ghats are used for the funeral pyres.

From Ramnagar, through the river, the city of Benarés gives a splendor impression that dissipates when watching with more attention. The narrow streets windingly wind between painted buildings or workings, many of which have hanging galleries.

Between more than 1,000 temples, the most known are the mosque of Aurangzeb, the observatory of the crack Jai Singh and the temple of Durga (both constructed in century XVII) and most sacred of all the temples, the Bisheshwar, or Gilded temple.

Benarés is also an erudition center, in special for the study of sanskrit, developed in the School of Benarés (1971) and receives economic subventions of the government. The Hindu University of Benarés (1916) was the first denominational university of India; also it is the seat of the Varanasaya-Sanskrit University, founded on 1958.

The population (2001) is 1.100.748 inhabitants.
Ganges (in hindi, Ganga; in bengalí, Padma), is the most important river of the Indian subcontinent. It is born in the southern slope of the Himalayas corresponding to the state of Uttar Pradesh, in the north of India.
The river basin of the Ganges, one of the most fertile regions of the world and also one of the most densely populated, extends between the Himalayas and the Vindhya hills, including more than 1.000.000 of km2 of surface.

The Ganges, that has a length of about 2,510 km, is born in an ice field between three mountains of the Himalayas that surpass 6,700 meters. Born like Bhagirathi river from a cave of ice 3,139 ms high, it descends to a rate of 67 ms by kilometer. To about 16 km of distance there is the temple of Gangotri, the first in its border and a center of traditional peregrination. In Devaprayag, 214 km of its birth, Bhagirathi is united to the Alaknanda river and together they form the Ganges.

Ganges is for the Hindu a holy river par excellence, as it is demonstrated in the numerous religious ceremonies that are celebrated in the cities by which it runs, like Benarés, Haridwar and Allahabad.

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