Banaras (Benares)


Varanasi also commonly known
as Benares or Banaras and Kashi, is a city situated on the banks of the River Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, 320 kilometres (199 mi) southeast of state capital Lucknow. It is regarded as a holy city by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and probably the oldest inIndia.

The Kashi Naresh (Maharaja of Kashi) is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi and an essential part of all religious celebrations. The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river’s religious importance. The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years. The Benares Gharana form of the Indian classical music developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians resided or reside in Varanasi. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath located near Varanasi (Kashi).


The name Varanasi has its origin possibly from the names of the two rivers Varuna and Assi, for the old city lies in the north shores of the Ganges bounded by its two tributaries, the Varuna and the Asi, with the Ganges being to its south Another speculation about the origin of the name is that the river Varuna itself was called Varanasi in olden times, from which the city got its name.  This is generally disregarded by historians, though there may be some earlier texts suggesting it to be so.

Through the ages, Varanasi was variously known as AvimuktakaAnandakananaMahasmasanaSurandhanaBrahma Vardha,SudarsanaRamya, and Kasi.

In the Rigveda, the city was referred to as Kasi or Kashi, “the luminous one” as an allusion to the city’s historical status as a centre of learning, literature, and culture.Kasikhanda described the glory of the city in 15, 000 verses in the Skanda Purana. In one verse, GodShiva says,

According to legend, the city was founded by the Hindu deity Lord Shiva, several thousand years ago, thus making it one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the country. It is also a general belief that it stands on the weapon “The Trishool” of Lord Shiva. It is one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus. Many Hindu scriptures, including the Rigveda, Skanda Purana, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata, mention the city.

Varanasi is generally believed to be about several thousand years old. Varanasi was an industry centre famous for its muslin and silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and sculpture. During the time of Gautama Buddha (born circa 567 BCE), Varanasi was the capital of the Kingdom of Kashi. The celebrated Chinese traveller Xuanzang attested that the city was a center of religious and artistic activities, and that it extended for about 5 km along the western bank of the Ganges.

Varanasi became an independent Kingdom of Kashi in the eighteenth century, and under subsequent British rule, it remained a commercial and religious centre. Varanasi suffered during the raids into India by Muhammad of Ghori, as described by Kamil-ut-Tawarikh of Ibn Asir: “The slaughter of Hindus (at Varanasi) was immense; none were spared except women and children, (who were taken into slavery) and the carnage of men went on until the earth was weary.” In 1910, the British made Varanasi a new Indian state, with Ramanagar as its headquarters but with no jurisdiction over the city of Varanasi itself. Kashi Naresh still resides in the fort of Ramanagar. The Ramnagar Fort of the Kashi Naresh is situated to the east of Varanasi, across the Ganges. The Ramnagar Fort was built by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh with creamy chunar sandstone in the eighteenth century. It is a typically Mughalstyle of architecture with carved balconies, open courtyards, and picturesque pavilions. The other fort of the Kashi Naresh is the Chet Singh Palace, near Shivala Ghat, Varanasi built by Maharaja Chet Singh.[citation needed]

Ramnagar Fort and its museum are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares and since the 18th century has been the home of Kashi Naresh.  Even today the Kashi Naresh is deeply revered by the people of Benares. He is the religious head and the people of Benares consider him the incarnation of Lord Shiva.  He is also the chief cultural patron and an essential part of all religious celebrations.

A massacre by British troops, of the Indian troops stationed here and of the population of the city, took place during the early stages of the rebellion of 1857



1194                       Part of Oudh.
1740                       Estate transformed into Banaras state.
1775                       British protectorate.
15 Aug 1947                Accedes to India, renamed Varanasi.

1740 - 19 Aug 1770         Balwant Singh                      (b. 1717 - d. 1770)
1770 - 16 Aug 1781         Chait Singh                        (d. 1810)
30 Sep 1781 - Sep 1794     Mahip Narayan Singh                (b. 1756 - d. 1794)
1794 - Mar 1835            Udit Narayan Singh                 (d. 1835)
1835 - 13 Jun 1889         Ishvari Prasad Narayan Singh       (b. 1822 - d. 1889)
                             (personal style Maharaja from 1859)
1889 - 1918                Prabhu Narayan Singh               (b. 1855 - d. 1931)

                             (personal style Maharaja)
Rulers (title Maharaja Bahadur)

1918 -  4 Aug 1931         Prabhu Narayan Singh               (s.a.)
 4 Aug 1931 -  5 Apr 1939  Aditya Narayan Singh               (b. 1874 - d. 1939)
 5 Apr 1939 - 15 Aug 1947  Vibhuti Narayan Singh              (b. 1927 - d. 2000)

British Resident

1793 - 14 Jan 1799         George Frederick Cherry            (b. 1761 - d. 1799)





One Comment Add yours

  1. govind says:

    well good


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