Varanasi also known as Benares, Banaras or Kashi is a city on the banks of the Ganges in the Uttar Pradesh state of North India dating to the 11th century B.C. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the city draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites. Along the city's winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Silk weaving is the dominant industry in Varanasi. Muslims are the influential community in this industry with nearly half a million of them working as weavers, dyers, sari finishers, and salespersons. Weaving is typically done within the household, and most weavers are Momin Ansari Muslims. Varanasi is known throughout India for its production of very fine silk and Banarasi saris, brocades with gold and silver thread work, which are often used for weddings and special occasions. The production of silk often uses bonded child labour, though perhaps not at a higher rate than elsewhere in India. The silk weaving industry has recently been threatened by the rise of power looms and computer-generated designs and by competition from Chinese silk imports.
In the metal manufacturing sector, Diesel Locomotive Works is a major employer. Bharat Heavy Electricals, a large power equipment manufacturer, also operates a heavy equipment maintenance plant. Other major commodities manufactured and traded in Varanasi include hand-knotted Mirzapur carpets, rugs, dhurries, brassware, copperware, wooden and clay toys, handicrafts, gold jewellery, and musical instruments. Important agricultural products include betel leaves (for paan), langra mangoes and khoa (solidified milk).
Tourism is Varanasi's second most important industry. Nearly 6.3 million domestic tourists and 690,472 foreign tourists visited Varanasi in 2015. Domestic tourist most commonly visit for religious purposes while foreign tourist visit for ghats along River Ganges and Sarnath.
Varanasi is served by Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, which is approximately 26 km from the city centre in Babatpur.
Varanasi Junction, commonly known as Varanasi Cantt Railway Station, is the city's largest train station. More than 360,000 passengers and 240 trains pass through each day