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Varanasi is one of the seven most holy cities revered by Hindus across the world. It is one of the oldest, yet living, cities in the world. It the first Aryan settlements in the middle Ganges valley. By the 2nd millennium B.C., Varanasi was a seat of Aryan religion and philosophy and was also famous as a commercial and industrial center for its muslin and silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and sculpture. During the 6th century B.C., Varanasi became the capital of Kashi. It was also the time of the Buddha, who gave his first sermon at Sarnath.

During three centuries of Muslim occupation, beginning in 1194, Varanasi experiences a downward trend. Many of the city’s Hindu temples were destroyed during the period of Muslim rule, and learned scholars fled to other parts of the country. However, in the 16th century, the Mughal emperor Akbar brought some relief to the city’s religious and cultural activities. In the late 17th century, there was yet another setback under the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb; but later the Marathas sponsored a new revival. Varanasi became an independent kingdom in the 18th century, and under subsequent British rule, it remained a commercial and religious center.

In 1910, the British made Varanasi a new Indian state, with Ramnagar as the headquarter. In 1947, after Indian independence, Varanasi became a part of the state of Uttar Pradesh.

History