Varanasi is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh dating to the 11th century B.C. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the city draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites. Along the city's winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Varanasi is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities. Kashi, its ancient name, was associated with a kingdom of the same name of 2,500 years ago. The Buddha is recorded in the Pali canon to have given his first sermon, "The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma", at nearby Sarnath in 528 BCE. In the 8th century, Adi Shankara established the worship of Shiva as an official sect of Varanasi.