“Older than History, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together“
is how Mark Twain describes Varanasi.
It is the oldest, most sacred,continually Inhabited, city of the world. the original name of Varanasi is Kashi which means the concentration of cosmic light that shines and illuminates the Universe, making moksha (liberation) dawn on everyone by giving wisdom.
Prior to the origin of earth, when there was not even a sky, light or darkness an amorphous divine energy took the physical form of Lord Shiva. Kashi is the point at which the first jyotirlinga, divine energy in a fiery column of light, took shape. Goddess Parvati manifested from the energy of Lord Shiva and to enjoy their divine love he created Kashi as his place of enjoyment called Anand Van (Forest of Bliss)-out of which the creation of the universe took place. As stated in the Puranas (sacred Hindu scriptures), because Kashi is situated at the tip of The Lord Shiva’s Trishul, it will never get destroyed, even during parlay (the final dissolution of the world).
Kashi is a Mandala (cosmogram), a precise network of 56 pilgrimage circuits. The outer circuit, Panchakroshi, is one of the 5 circular routes that surround the city. This 55 mile/88Km cosmic circuit is one of the oldest in India and is lined with 108 temples and shrines. The boundary of Panchkoshi holds a sacred space within which all beings that die are granted moksha (liberation) by Lord Shiva.
For the ordinary visitor Varanasi is like peeling a bottomless onion- 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 devotional hymns – all offer a kind of mystifying experience that is unique to the city of Shiva.
For the more adventurous who want to uncover a city built with devotion, understand the boons given to Kashi and  discover its ancient secrets you need to drop your fears of India or even death and head on a journey with Avnish for an unforgettable experience.

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