"Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together." - Mark Twain
Benaras is one of the oldest living cities in the world along the likes of Jerusalem, Athens, Rome and Peking. For centuries, tradition and culture in Kashi, often called as the city of lights has been passed on from a generation to another as seamlessly as the flow of the great river Ganga since the sixth century BC. From its commanding position on the banks of the Ganga, Benaras has witnessed the entire history of Indian civilization evolve from the ancient Aryan kingdoms through the golden age of the Mauryan and Gupta empire, to the thousand year of Muslims and then the British domination. The city has lived on unfazed and undaunted to become the mecca of Hinduism and the greatest pilgrimage center of modern day India. It is an epicenter and as its name suggest it is luminous in its outlook which gathers and reflects light to and from other holy spots, making it omnipresent. In the Himalayas, there is Northern Kashi or Uttar Kashi and in the south in Tamil Nadu there is siva kashi which are considered as prototypes of this incredible city.