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Religious Composition

Varanasi Travel Guide

Introduction
Varanasi religious composition is a good example of religious harmony. City is one of the world's oldest living cities, is rightly called the religious capital of India. Also known as Banaras or Benaras, this holy city is located in the southeastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. It rests on the left bank of the holy river Ganga (Ganges) and is one of the seven sacred spots for Hindus. Every devout Hindu hopes to visit the city at least once in a lifetime, take a holy dip at the famous 'Ghats' of the Ganga, walk the pious Panchakosi road that bounds the city, and, if God wills, die here in old age so as to attain salvation and be released from the cycle of birth and death. Both Hindus and non-Hindus from around the world visit Varanasi for different reasons. Although Varanasi is popularly called the city of Shiva and Ganga, it is at once the city of temples, the city of 'ghats', the city of music, and the center for moksha or nirvana. For every visitor, Varanasi has a different experience to offer. The gentle waters of the Ganges, the boat ride at sunrise, the high banks of the ancient "Ghats", the array of shrines, the meandering narrow serpentine alleys of the city, the myriad temple spires, the palaces at water's edge, the ashrams (hermitages), the pavilions, the chanting of mantras, the fragrance of incense, the palm and cane parasols, the devotional hymns - all offer a kind of mystifying experience that is unique to the city of Shiva. The former name of the city, 'Kashi' signifies that it is a 'site of spiritual luminance.' Not only is Varanasi a place for pilgrimage, it is also a great center of learning and a place known for its heritage in music, literature, art, and craft. It is famous in the art of silk weaving. The Banarasi silk sarees and brocades are prized all over the world. The classical musical styles or 'gharanas' are woven into the lifestyle of the people and are accompanied by musical instruments that are manufactured in Varanasi. Many religious texts and theosophical treatises have been written here. It is also the seat of one of India's biggest universities, the Banaras Hindu University. Varanasi is a pilgrimage site for Jains along with Hindus and Buddhists. It is believed to be the birthplace of Suparshvanath, Shreyansanath, and Parshva, who are respectively the seventh, eleventh, and twenty-third Jain Tirthankars and as such Varanasi is a holy city for Jains. Shree Parshvanath Digambar Jain Tirth Kshetra (Digambar Jain Temple) is situated in Bhelupur, Varanasi. This Temple is of great religious importance to Jain Religion. Sarnath, a suburb of Varanasi, is a place of Buddhist pilgrimage. It is the site of the deer park where Siddhārtha Gautama is said to have given his first sermon about the basic principles of Buddhism. The Dhamek Stupa is one of the few pre-Ashokan stupas still standing, though only its foundation remains. Also remaining is the Chaukhandi Stupa commemorating the spot where Buddha met his first disciples in the 5th century. An octagonal tower was built later there. Guru Nanak Dev visited Varanasi for Shivratri in 1507 and had an encounter which with other events forms the basis for the story of the founding of Sikhism. Varanasi also hosts the Roman Catholic Diocese of Varanasi, and has a significant Jewish expatriate community. Varanasi is home to numerous tribal faiths which are not easily classified. Given below is a comprehensive table showing the number of religions existing in the population of Varanasi. This composition is subject to change with the passage of time. It is just for a rough idea & understanding.
Religious Composition
Various Religions
Percentage in Population
Hindu
80.5%
Muslims
13.4%
Christians
2.3%
Sikhs
1.9%
Buddhists
0.8%
Jains
0.4%
Other Religions
0.6%

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