The Brill Dictionary of Religion

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Benares (Banāras, Vārāṇasī)
(1,104 words)

1. The northern Indian city of Benares (in Sanskrit, Vārāṇasī), in the federal state of Uttar Pradesh, is one of the most important Hindu places of pilgrimage. With a population of 920,000 (1991), it lies, like so many other Indian cities of pilgrimage, on the bank of a river, the Ganges. The bathing areas in places of pilgrimage, like the places themselves, are called fords (tīrtha). The fords here favor the transition to other ‘forms of being.’ Benares's eminent status among Indian citie…

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Gengnagel, Jörg, “Benares (Banāras, Vārāṇasī)”, in: The Brill Dictionary of Religion, Edited by Kocku von Stuckrad. Consulted online on 21 January 2021 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004124332, 20051223

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