Benares (also known as Varanasi) is a city on the bank of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India being the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. Varanasi has been a cultural center of North India for several thousand years, and is closely associated with the Ganges. Hindus believe that death in the city will bring salvation, making it a major center for pilgrimage. The city is known worldwide for its many ghats, embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions. There are an estimated 23,000 temples in Varanasi.
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