Difference Wiki

Varanasi vs. Banaras: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on June 19, 2024
Varanasi and Banaras refer to the same historic city in northern India, known for its religious significance in Hinduism, with no difference in meaning.

Key Differences

Varanasi and Banaras are two names for the same city located on the banks of the Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The city is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and holds a significant place in Hindu religion and culture. Banaras, on the other hand, is a more colloquial term widely used by locals and throughout India. It carries a familiar and endearing quality, reflecting the everyday life and vibrancy of the city.
The choice between Varanasi and Banaras can depend on the context in which it is being discussed. For example, in the context of religious studies, history, or international discussions, "Varanasi" might be preferred for its formal and ancient resonance. In contrast, "Banaras" might be chosen in conversations focusing on the city's cultural aspects, textiles, or when referring to the city in a more informal or local context.
Both names are deeply embedded in the city's identity, each reflecting different facets of its rich heritage. Varanasi evokes the city's spiritual and mystical aspects, being a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. Banaras, with its more colloquial usage, brings to mind the city's bustling ghats, narrow lanes, and the daily life of its inhabitants.
Regardless of the name used, Varanasi/Banaras remains a city of great importance in India, symbolizing the confluence of tradition, religion, culture, and history. The dual nomenclature enriches the city's character, allowing it to be appreciated from multiple perspectives.

Comparison Chart

Official Use

Used in formal, administrative contexts
Less commonly used in official contexts


Conveys a sense of the ancient and spiritual
Evokes the city's cultural and everyday life


Preferred in academic, literary discussions
Used colloquially, in local and cultural discussions


With the city's religious significance
With the city's arts, crafts, and textiles

Global vs. Local

Often used in international contexts
Predominantly used in local and national contexts

Varanasi and Banaras Definitions


A city with a rich history of arts, music, and craft.
Varanasi's ghats are famous for their evening aarti ceremonies.


Represents the city's rich tradition in music, especially the Banarasi gharana.
The Banaras gharana is a significant school of Indian classical music.


A symbol of Indian spirituality and mysticism.
Many people visit Varanasi in search of spiritual enlightenment.


Emphasizes the lively and informal aspects of the city's character.
Banaras's ghats are bustling with life, from dawn till dusk.


Home to several ancient temples and educational institutions.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi is one of the holiest sites for Hindus.


The colloquial name for Varanasi, reflecting its vibrant local culture.
Banaras is renowned for its exquisite silk sarees.


An ancient city located on the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Varanasi is a key pilgrimage site for Hindus around the world.


Synonymous with the city's intricate craftsmanship and textiles.
Banaras silk is sought after for its quality and beauty worldwide.


Known for its religious, cultural, and educational importance.
Scholars from Varanasi have contributed significantly to Indian philosophy.


A term often used in the context of the city's daily life and its marketplace.
The streets of Banaras are filled with the aroma of freshly made chaat.


Why is Varanasi also called Banaras?

Banaras is a colloquial name that reflects the city's local culture and everyday life.

What is Varanasi famous for?

Varanasi is famous for its religious significance, historical ghats, silk sarees, and as an educational hub.

Are Varanasi and Banaras different cities?

No, they are two names for the same city in Uttar Pradesh, India.

What religious activities are associated with Varanasi?

Pilgrimages, ritual baths in the Ganges, and cremation ceremonies are key religious activities in Varanasi.

Can I use Varanasi and Banaras interchangeably?

Yes, both names refer to the same city and can be used based on the context of the discussion.

Which name is older, Varanasi or Banaras?

Varanasi is the ancient name, while Banaras is more commonly used in modern times.

What languages are spoken in Varanasi/Banaras?

Hindi and Bhojpuri are the primary languages spoken in Varanasi/Banaras.

Are there any festivals specific to Varanasi/Banaras?

Yes, festivals like Dev Deepawali and Ganga Aarti are unique to Varanasi.

What food is Banaras known for?

Banaras is famous for its street food, especially chaat and sweets like jalebis.

What makes Banaras ghats unique?

The ghats of Banaras are unique for their historical significance, architectural beauty, and as sites of diverse cultural and religious practices.

How does Varanasi/Banaras contribute to Indian music?

Varanasi has a rich musical heritage, home to the Banarasi gharana of Indian classical music and many celebrated musicians.

What is special about Banaras silk?

Banaras silk is known for its fine quality, intricate designs, and vibrant colors.

Is Varanasi a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

While Varanasi itself is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's recognized as a city of great cultural and historical importance.

What is the best time to visit Varanasi/Banaras?

The best time to visit is from October to March when the weather is cooler.

Can I visit the ghats of Varanasi/Banaras freely?

Yes, the ghats are open to visitors, offering a glimpse into the city's spiritual life.

What educational institutions are found in Varanasi?

Banaras Hindu University is one of the most prestigious universities in Varanasi.

Is Varanasi a good place for spiritual learning?

Yes, Varanasi is considered a center for spiritual learning and yoga.

How do I get to Varanasi/Banaras?

Varanasi is accessible by air, rail, and road from major cities in India.

What crafts are Varanasi/Banaras known for besides silk?

The city is also known for its wooden toys, brassware, and pottery.

How old is Varanasi?

Varanasi is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities, with a history extending over 3000 years.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons