Mark Twain once remarked about Varanasi that it is “older than history, older even
than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together." With all the eras
it has lived through, first as Benares, and now in its present avatar, the city
seems to be enveloped in its own divine aura.
Varanasi is sacred to Hindus. It is revered as the abode of Lord Shiva and his consort
Parvati. It is immersed in an ancient culture and history that few cities could
lay claim to. Indeed, it is widely believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited
city in the world.
For millennia, it has been a hub of philosophy, theosophy, medicine, learning and
the arts - and it remains steeped in all of them.
It is the home of Sanskrit, Annie Besant’s Theosophical Society, Asia’s largest
university - ‘Benares Hindu University’, Sarnath - the venue of The Buddha’s first
sermon after enlightenment, two thousand temples and the revered Ganges River.