Located on the banks of the holy Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi (also known as Banaras or Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. It is a major religious hub and is considered to be the holiest of the seven sacred cities (the seven tirthas or pilgrimage centres) in India. The city exudes a rare old-world charm. Ancient scriptures hold evidence to its antiquity and its sanctity, as it continues to be revered by Indians and people from all over the world. Hindus believe that death in the city helps attain Moksha (liberation of the body from the cycle of birth and death). The city is renowned worldwide for its Ghats, that have steps leading to the holy waters of the Ganga. People can be found bathing in the waters from the crack of dawn, as they believe that the divine river offers salvation. If you are travelling to Varanasi, Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport is the nearest you can land, while the nearest railway station is the Varanasi Junction Railway Station. If you are travelling by road, Varanasi lies along National Highway 2, that connects it to Kolkata, Kanpur, Agra, and Delhi. Varanasi has been a cultural centre of North India for thousands of years. Being a major centre of pilgrimage, it invites thousands of pilgrims who throng the city every day to experience its charm. Two-star hotels in Varanasi are usually located close to places of public transport like main roads. Affordably priced, the rooms provided are rather basic and most of these 2-star hotels in Varanasi do not have an in-house restaurant. These hotels are perfect if you require accommodation for a short time as the services or amenities provided are rather limited. The city is a symbol of spirituality for all Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. Apart from its spiritual charm, Varanasi is famous for its unique Banarasi silk sarees and antique gold jewellery. There’s a lot to shop for and experience in this historic city. It has thousands of beautiful temples, adorning every nook and corner of the city. Apart from that, the Ghats of Varanasi make a great place for an evening stroll. Dashashwamedh Ghat is one of the most popular ones here, the others being Assi Ghat, Mata Anandamai Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Munshi Ghat, Raj Ghat, Scindia Ghat, and Tulsi Ghat. You must not miss out on the evening aarti ceremony at the Ganga, when here. The event looks surreal, especially when viewed from the Dashashwamedh Ghat. Additionally, you can visit the Gyan Vapi Well, the Well of Wisdom, which is believed to have sheltered the sacred lingam at the original Kashi Vishwanath Temple, that was sabotaged by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century. You can also see the Banaras Hindu University, and the historic Ramnagar Fort. You can visit the local market to buy shawls, carpets, stone inlay work, bangles and idols of Hindu or Buddhist deities. You can also buy brass pots, brassware, copperware, and earthenware to carry the holy water of the Ganga back with you. Head to Vishwanath Lane, Thatheri Bazaar, Chowk, and Godowlia for shopping. Do not miss out on specialties unique to this city such as the famous snow cone, roasted peanuts, delicious chat items like Tamatar Chat, Pani Puri, Kachoris, Aloo Tikki, and scrumptious sweets like Jalebis, Banarasi Kalakand, and Rabri. One of the most famous delicacies of Banaras is their Paan. You must try out Banarasi Paan atleast once, if you happen to visit the city.
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