History Of Varanasi

When you peek into the past of the ancient cities of India, Varanasi will surely attract your attention. For the history of Varanasi is as fascinating as the city itself. She came to life when nothing existed in the world. She was the first to offer shelter to people, teach them about civilization and infuse in them a pride for culture, tradition and religion. Her mention in the holy books Rigveda and Atharvaveda are a testimony to her being the oldest city in the world. The findings from the excavations carried out recently at Akhta and Ramnagar have proven this. Varanasi was initially called Kasi or Kashi. She is also revered as ‘Banaras.’ However, when and how she got the name is unclear. Nevertheless, people love to call her by this name. In fact, the origin of Banaras dates back to 3000 years. The Aryans were the first to step on this pious land. She even sheltered Parshva, the 23rd Jain Tirthankara in the 8th century BC. Buddhism was formed here by Lord Buddha during the 528 BC.

When she was in her prime, she gave birth to Indian classical music, arts, literature and myriad of activities that built social bonds between people. With the holy Ganga River flowing by her side, she flourished rapidly and in four-fold. There were buildings, thousands of temples that did not exist anywhere, but here. Such for her foresight that she even paved paths for economic reforms by producing silk, fragrances, and several sculptures and artwork made from ivory. Soon, she caught the attention of evil eyes.

Varanasi saw a period of descent from 1194. It was the time when the Muslim emperor, Qutb-ud-din-Aibak first cast his bad eyes on her. He unleashed a spell on destruction and looted her badly. Thousands of worship buildings and religious monuments were destroyed. She sustained several injuries and wounds inflicted from daggers and swords of the invaders. Though her heart was oozing blood, she never stopped smiling at the perpetrator and braced herself to stand up again. She did stand with all her power, but then the Afghan reared their heads on her during the 13th century. Again, she suffered humiliation, torture and anguish. Nevertheless, she never lost hope in herself and maintained its dignity by continuing with the development of religious, education and cultural center.

Her fame and story of destruction reached far places. Several noted poets and saints in search of the real meaning of wisdom visited her during the 15th century. Sant Kabir Das, Ravidas, and Guru Nanak Dev were the luminaries who considered themselves lucky after having visited her. She bounced back to her previous status after coming under the rule of Akbar in the 16th century. Since Akbar was a tolerant ruler, who respected all religions, he ordered construction of temples and religious monuments to offer her old glory. The temple of Lord Shiva and Vishnu showed the brilliance of Indian architecture. While she had not yet fully enjoyed what she loved to do, Aurangzeb pierced another dagger into her heart. The good work that Akbar did meet with the same fate the beginning of which started with the invasion of the Muslim ruler. Her glory was restored again in the 18th century, when the Marathas built those destroyed temples again.

Metaphorically, she is taller than the sky and deeper than the ocean if  everything she had been through is considered. She is the beacon that offers direction to very single soul, regardless of which religion one is following. Take a look at her for a moment shunning away the burden of weight from your head, and you will realize that she is gesturing at you to come and solve your worries, and sufferings.

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