Varanasi, also known as Benares, Kashi (city of light), and the "city of temples and learning", is one of the holiest cities of Hinduism, the dominant religion in India (and third in the world). One of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, Varanasi has seen since ancient times a steady flux of Hindu pilgrims who come to wash away their sins with a ritual bath in the Ganges River, or to expire there and be relieved from the cycle of rebirths. Their activity takes place in public on the ghats over the Ganges River. The ghat most frequented by pilgrims is Dasaswamedh ghat, which remains busy past dark, when a beautiful Ganga Arti ceremony takes place. There are about 80 other ghats, all linked through a walkway on the banks of the river. Most are for bathing, but some are for cremation, such as Manikarnika ghat, where fire is believed to have been burning continuously for milenia.
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