A commemorative postage stamp on the City of Benaras (Kashi), an ancient holy city on the banks of river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, greatest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism :
Issued by India
Issued on Oct 24, 2016
Issued for : Department of Posts is pleased to release a Commemorative stamp on Varanasi City.
Stamp / FDC / Cancellation Cachet : Smt. Alka Sharma
Type : Stamp, Mint Condition
Colour : Multi Colour
Denomination : 500 Paise
Stamps Printed : 301590
Printing Process : Wet Offset
Printer : Security Printing Press, Hyderabad
- Banaras as most commonly called was officially renamed in 1956 as Varanasi, a name given to the city by adding the names of two holy rivers “Varana” and “Asi” which meet the river Ganges within 6 miles. It was first known as Kashi, which means “where the supreme light shines”, when it was the capital of the kingdom of the same name in about 500 BC. This great north Indian center of Shiva worship has seen the progress of human civilization since very ancient time and is the most visited pilgrimage destination in all of India. Because of this the city is considered as the cultural and religious capital of India.
- The city is considered as one of the seven Holy Cities, one of the twelve Jyotir Linga sites and also a Shakti Pitha site, and therefore is the most favored place for Hindus. Built on the banks of sacred Ganga and celebrated as a seat of all enlightenment, wisdom and learning it is said to combine the virtues of all other places of pilgrimage and anyone who ends their earthly cycle here is said to attain Moksha or Liberation and is transported straight to heaven. The city has been a favored hermitage site for many of India’s most venerated sages – Gautama Buddha and Mahavira, Kabir and Tulsi Das, Shankaracharaya, Ramanuja and Patanjali all meditated here. The city encompasses Sarnath, where Buddha preached his first sermon in about 530 BC.
- Holiest of cities to Hindus and earthly abode of Lord Shiva, Banaras is considered as a beacon for pilgrims who came to bathe in the sacred Ganga River. Almost the entire city’s 5 km of river banks have been converted into Ghats. The Ghats in Varanasi are world-renowned embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions. The Ghats are an integral complement to the Hindu concept of divinity represented in physical, metaphysical and supernatural elements. The city on the whole has around 100 bathing and burning Ghats, of which Manikarnika ghat is the most sacred. This is the main burning ghat and one of the most auspicious places. Many ghats are associated with Hindu legends and several are now privately owned. Varanasi is known for having around 23000 temples and the most popular ones are the Kashi Vishwanath Temple of Shiva (also known as Golden Temple); one of the 12 Jyotirlinga Shiva temples, the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple; the most sacred temples of the Hindu God Hanuman and the 18th Century Durga Kund Temple, known for monkeys that reside in the large trees nearby.
- The City serves as a major commercial centre in the eastern Uttar Pradesh state and western Bihar state. Silk Weaving is the dominant industry in Varanasi. The City is known throughout India for its production of very fine silk and Banarasi saris, brocades with gold and silver thread work, which are often used for weddings and special occasions. Other major commodities manufactured and traded in Varanasi include hand-knotted Mirzapur carpets, rugs, dhurries, brassware, copperware, wooden and clay toys, handicrafts, gold jewellery, and musical instruments.
- Varanasi is also notable centre of education. Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is one of the oldest and largest educational institutions and is one of India’s most prominent seats of learning. Founded in 1916 by the great nationalist and educator Pandit Madan Mohan Maliviya, BHU has a 1,300 acre campus on the outskirts of the city. Today one of the largest residential universities in India, it has schools of both the ancient Indian Ayurveda practice, colleges of engineering, agriculture, commerce, technology, music and fine arts, theology and oriental studies.
- Today, a crowded, bustling and noisy city, Varanasi was in antiquity an area of gently rolling hills, lush forests, and natural springs bordered by the magical waters of the river Ganges. Initially first-time visitors to the city may find themselves overwhelmed by the sensory stimulation provided by the place, yet just beneath the surface is a presence of peacefulness and spiritual wisdom.
- Varanasi has not only maintained the religious and cultural importance attached to the city but also has added a flavor of historical importance to attract the tourists from all over the world.
- Text : Based on the material available on internet.