Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Kashi Mean?

Kashi is the spiritual name of the northern Indian city of Varanasi, the holiest of cities in Hinduism. Its name translates as “city of light” or “shining city” and comes from the Sanskrit word, prakasa, meaning “light.”

Located along the Ganges River, the city was formerly known as Kashi and is still called that today by the Hindu pilgrims. In addition to its Hindu shrines, Kashi is home to Jain, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist holy sites. But it is the Hindu pilgrimages that have put Kashi on the spiritual map.


Yogapedia Explains Kashi

Considered both the religious and cultural center of India, the city is also a destination for yogis with its yoga centers, retreats and ashrams. Kashi draws about a million pilgrims a year, many of whom gather on the banks of the sacred Ganges to bathe in its waters for spiritual cleansing and to perform the funeral rite of cremation. The city is also home to two of Hinduism’s most famous temples, Kashi Vishwanath, dedicated to Shiva and also known as the Golden Temple; and the Durga Temple, noted for its hordes of monkeys.

Kashi is one of the Sapta Puri, or seven holy pilgrimage sites in Hinduism. Just as every devout Muslim hopes to visit Mecca, the devout Hindu strives to make a pilgrimage to Kashi at least once. Hindus also believe that dying in Kashi may release them from the life-death-rebirth cycle, or samsara.

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