Varanasi (also known as Benares, Banaras or Kashi), is a city on the banks of the Ganges (Ganga) in Uttar Pradesh, 320 kilometres (200 mi) southeast of the state capital, Lucknow. It is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. Some Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation.It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India.Varanasi is also known as the favourite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva as it has been mentioned in the Rigveda that this city at older times was known as Kashi or “Shiv ki Nagri”.
Many of its temples were plundered and destroyed by Mohammad Ghauri in the 12th century. The temples and religious institutions in the city now are dated to the 18th century.