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View of the ghats at Benares with Aurangzeb's mosque in the distance.

View of the ghats at Benares with Aurangzeb's mosque in the distance.

Photographer: Bourne, Samuel

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1860

Shelfmark: Photo 394/(77)

Item number: 39477

Genre: Photograph

This photograph was taken by Samuel Bourne in the 1860s and shows ghats on the river Ganges at Varanasi with Aurangzeb's mosque. Varanasi, or Benares, is famously known as the most sacred city of Hinduism. As such, it is commonly referred to as Kashi or 'City of Light'. Its holy status makes it one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the sub-continent. Devout pilgrims come to bathe and perform a morning 'puja' or prayer in the sacred waters of the Ganges river at one of the city's numerous ghats. The mosque which towers over the ghats in the background of the image was built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in the late seventeenth century. It is also referred to as the Great Mosque of Aurangzeb in order to distinguish it from the two smaller mosques built by the same patron in the city. It is located on the north-west side of the 'Well of Knowledge' and was built using dressed masonry and Hindu temple spolia.

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