From Stamps of the World
Benares, also known as Varanasi or Kashi, is an Indian city on the banks of the Ganga in Uttar Pradesh. It is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism, Ravidassia religion and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. Some Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Varanasi is also known as the favourite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva as it has been mentioned in the Rigveda that this city in older times was known as Kashi or "Shiv ki Nagri".
Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India. It is often referred to as "the holy city of India", "the religious capital of India", "the city of shiva", and "the city of learning". Scholarly books have been written in the city, including the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas. Today, there is a temple of his namesake in the city, the Tulsi Manas Mandir. The current temples and religious institutions in the city are dated to the 18th century. One of the largest residential universities of Asia the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is located here.