Benaras is one of the oldest living cities in the world along with the likes of Jerusalem, Athens, Rome and Peking. Since sixth century BC, tradition and culture here at the 'city of lights' has been passed on from one generation to another as seamlessly as the flow of the great river Ganga. 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 most significant pilgrimage centre of modern-day India. It is an epicentre 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, both considered as prototypes of this incredible city.