In Hinduism, the river Ganges is referred to as Gaṅgā and is considered sacred. Personified as a goddess, Gaṅgā is worshiped by Hindus who believe that bathing in the river causes the remission of sins and facilitates liberation from the cycle of life and death. Pilgrims travel long distances to immerse the ashes of their kin in the waters of the Ganges, bringing their spirits closer to nirvana.
Varanasi, also commonly known as Benares, is a city situated on the banks of the Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, 320 kilometres (199 mi) southeast of state capital Lucknow. It is regarded as a holy city by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India. Varanasi is today considered to be the cultural capital of India where scholarly books have been written. Ramcharitmanas was composed by Tulsidas here while there is the temple Tulsi Manas Mandir that is famous here. In addition to this, the largest residential University of Asia, Benares Hindu University is located here. People often refer to Varanasi as "the city of temples", "the holy city of India", "the religious capital of India", "the city of lights", "the city of learning", and "the oldest living city on earth."