The holy city of Varanasi was first settled over 3,000 years ago and has been inhabited ever since. Hindus traditionally believe it’s even older, created by Lord Shiva over 5,000 years ago. Varanasi (also known as Benares) is situated at one of the holiest points of the River Ganga. Many Hindus aim to die here, because doing so is believed to free a person from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Nowadays, a large modern city also spreads out from the riverbank.