Benares (Be-nah'rcz), or Varanasi, the most sacred city of the Hindus, and one of the chief towns of North India, situated on the northern bank of the Ganges, 420 miles from Calcutta. In the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, it is seventh in size of Indian cities. It skirts the crescent-like Ganges for 3 miles, and the high bank is lined continuously with broad flights of ghats or stairs, leading to the innumerable temples and large substantial houses, which present towards the river an imposing array of towers and pinnacles and richly carved facades. Benares, however, is disappointing internally, the streets being mere narrow lanes between lines of tall, dismal houses. Among the chief buildings are the Nepalese Temple; Aurungzebe's mosque, with its two minarets 147 feet high; Raja Jai Singh's observatory; the Gopal Mandir, wealthiest of all the temples; the Bisheswar or Golden Temple of Siva, the holiest of all; and the famous Monkey Temple, in the suburbs. Other points of special interest are the well of Mani Karniki, formed of Vishnu's sweat; the Juana-vapi, or 'pool of knowledge;' and the Lat Bhairo, a portion, it is believed, of one of Asoka's pillars. At the Burning Ghat the bodies of Hindus are reduced to ashes. The city counts 1450 Hindu temples or shrines, most of them small, and 272 Mohammedan mosques. In the European quarter there is the Government College, a large freestone structure, with 700 students; the Prince of Wales's Hospital; and a town-hall. By far the most important European work is the Dufferin railway bridge over the Ganges, opened in 1887, and 3518 feet long. Benares draws immense revenues from the thousands of pilgrims who visit it from all parts of India. It has a considerable trade, not only in country produce, but in English goods, jewellery, and precious stones. Its brass-ware, gold-cloth, and lacquered toys are famous. Pop. (1901) 209,350. A city of great antiquity, Benares (Sansk. Vard-nasi) was for 800 years the headquarters of Buddhism. In the 4th century b.c. it reverted to Brahminism, the ancient faith, of which it has ever since been the metropolis. It has been in the hands of many temporal rulers - the Rajput princes, the Mogul emperors, the Oudh nawabs - being ceded by the latter to the British in 1775.