Varanasi ("resplendent with divine light") as it was called in the 7th century BC, is India's ancient holy city on the Ganges with its labyrinth of over 2000 temples. Earlier known as Kashi and Benares it has been the religious capital of the Hindu faith since recorded time and is a microcosm of Indian life. No one knows the date of Varanasi's birth, contemporary with Babylon, Nineveh and Thebes. Every devout Hindu wants to visit this city once in a lifetime to purify the body and soul in the Ganges and die here in their old age, and thus attain the ultimate release from the cycle of rebirth. In nearby Sarnath, in a quiet grove, in 6th century BC, Siddhartha Gautama - who came to be known as the Buddha, the 'Awakened One', delivered his first sermon, after attaining enlightenment. It is now a vital center of the Buddhist world.