Varanasi, or Benaras, (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi`s Prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrevealed. Mark Twain, the English author and literature, who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Benaras, once wrote: "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together" . According to the 'Vamana Purana', the Varuna and the Assi rivers originated from the body of the primordial Person at the beginning of time itself. The tract of land lying between them is believed to be 'Varanasi', the holiest of all pilgrimages. The word 'Kashi' originated from the word 'Kas' which means to shine. Steeped in tradition and mythological legacy, Kashi is the 'original ground ' created by Shiva and Parvati, upon which they stood at the beginning of time. Varanasi is the microcosm of Hinduism, a city of traditional classical culture, glorified by myth and legend and sanctified by religion, it has always attracted a large number of pilgrims and worshipers from time immemorial.
To be in Varanasi is an experience in itself an experience in self--discover an eternal oneness of the body and soul. To every visitor; Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience. The rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges, the high-banks, the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue soul stirring hymns and mantras alongwith the fragrance of incense filling the air and the refreshing dip in the holy waters gently splashing at the Ghats. Varanasi -- the land where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss. Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education. Some of the world renowned exponents India has produced in these fields were schooled in Varanasi's cultural ethos. Luminaries apart, Varanasi abounds in the art of silk weaving, an exotic work of art which manifests itself in precious Banarasi Silk Sarees and Silk brocades which are cherished as collector's items across the world today.
Varanasi is not only the cultural capital of India but occupies a significant place when it comes to commerce. The city is a flourishing commercial center. The shopping hotspots in Varanasi are Chowk, Gyan Vapi, Vishwanath Gali, Thatheri Bazar, Dashswamedh Gali and Golghar. Banarasi silk saris form an indispensable part of Indian Bride's trousseau and no Indian weddings are complete without them. To search some of these, one can visit the Temple bazaar and government-run emporia at Godaulia, Lahurabir and the Chowk. Varanasi is also famous for its brass-work. One can check Thateri bazaar for wall paintings and other articles. Otherwise one can just stroll down the lanes in the heart of the city and marvel at unusual objects on display such as brassware, copperware , wooden and clay toys and antique designs of heavy gold jewellery .
The other shopping attractions of varanasi include the hand-knotted carpets of Mirzapur. The wholesale flower market of Varanasi is also very popular in north India. The sale of flowers is very high particularly during the festivals of Deewali and Dhanteras. The city has a tremendously rich tradition of handicrafts, which makes for a wonderful shopping in Varanasi. Besides the illustrious fine silk and brocade fabrics one can also buy shawls, glass beads , bangles ,masks of Hindu and Buddhist deities lampshades, Kamandalam used by the saints to carry water etc. Most of the hotels have shopping arcades or showrooms within the complex. Banaras is also famous for mango varities such as "Langda " or "Malda " .Betel leaf is another specialty of Banaras and is a part of the cultural upbringing of the people of Banaras. The musical instruments made by the craftsman of Banaras are used by the renowned artists such as Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Bismillah Khan etc. are the few ones.
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