Varanasi (pop. 932,400), formerly Benaras, ancient city in Uttar Pradesh State, on the Ganges River in northern India. The city is of great religious import as a center for Hindu pilgrimage, with over 1,500 temples and shrines. Varanasi has miles of riverfront ghats, or stairways, from which pilgrims may bathe in the holy Ganges River before praying. Industries include textiles and brassware. Varanasi is the site of Benaras Hindu University (1916) and the Mosque of Aurangzeb.
See also: India.