Varanasi is known as one of the most famous cities in India. The Ganges River, which rises from the Himalayas in the north, plays a fundamental role in this Indiana Jones-like city. Many Sadhus (Hindu priests) live along the holy river and it is also here that Hindus, via the so-called burning ghats, cremate their departed loved ones in a sacred ritual. After the cremation, the ashes are tossed into the Ganges – this allows the soul of the departed to proceed directly to Moksha (the emancipation or liberation of the soul.) Varanasi, which is located in the North East India, is also a magnete for tourists who come here to discover and immerse into mystique of Hinduism. In other words, Varanasi is both a sacred and financial stronghold for the Hindus.
Notwithstanding Varanasi’s status as a Hindu centre, almost one third of its inhabitants are Muslims. For more than a thousand years, Muslims have been an integral part of this holy city. However, the relationship between the Hindus and Muslims of Varanasi has often been hostile. In 2006, Varanasi was hit by a series of bomb attacks. Sacred Hindu sites were affected by the bombings and 15 people were killed. In 2010, another bomb exploded near the Ganges. Hindus have since then blamed Muslims for carrying out the terrorist attacks and vice versa. Today, however, Varanasi’s Hindus and Muslim live side by side in peace.