This is an attempt to find the world’s oldest living city taking into consideration the Astronomical dating of Ramayana. Here we are not talking about just the oldest city of the world which may be in ruins today. But instead we are referring to the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city – by which we mean that people still continue to live in this city even today, ever since its dawn.
Scientific Dating of Ramayana
According to the Scientific Dating of Ramayana, Lord Rama was born on 10th January 5114 BCE. This was more than 7000 years ago!
Rama belonged to the Solar Dynasty (Suryva Vamsha) and was the 68th ruler in this dynasty. 32 generations before Rama, Raja Satya Harishchandra was the ruler of the Solar Clan. The complete list of the kings who ruled over the Solar Dynasty from Raja Satya Harishchandra to Rama is given at the end of this article.
Now, even if one considers an average of 40 years of rule per generation, we can safely date the time period of Raja Satya Harishchandra to around 1280 years before Rama. Which means Satya Harishchandra should have lived around 6300 BCE. This was more than 8000 years ago!
Going by the ancient Indian scriptures, ever since the times of Raja Satya Harishchandra, Varanasi (Kashi) is said to have been a city bustling with population and activities. It has been a prominent center of spirituality, culture, trade and education. It is at this very place where the great twin qualities of Raja Harishchandra (never speaking a lie and always keeping up to his promise) were put to test vigorously, in which he won ultimately.
Varanasi has already been accepted by historians worldwide as one of the oldest living cities on this planet. Throughout history Varanasi has been known by different names like Avimuktaka, Anandakanana, Mahasmasana, Surandhana, Brahma Vardha, Sudarsana, Ramya, Kashi etc.
As shown above, by relating the time period of Raja Satya Harishchandra to the Scientific dating of Ramayana, we can see that Varanasi has been in existence for no less than the past 8000 years. This makes Varanasi (Benares) the oldest continuously inhabited city or the oldest living city on this planet.
Varanasi – Oldest Continuously Inhabited City on Earth
Situated on the banks of the holy river Ganga (Ganges), according to legends, the City of Varanasi was founded by none other than Lord Shiva himself. This is one of the most sacred places of Hinduism. Even during the times of Satya Harishchandra, Varanasi was already a prominent city and hence in all likelihood is much older than the times of Raja Harishchandra.
Mark Twain once said about Varanasi (Benares)
Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.
The Banarasi Sarees of Varanasi are famous for their gold and silver brocade. The Banarasi Paan is one of the most popular varieties of Paan.
Varanasi is the place where Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon to his disciples. Thus, Varanasi is also the place where Buddhism was founded. Varanasi is also a holy place for Jains because three thirthankaras of Jainism were born here.
For Hindus, apart from being the holy place of Lord Shiva in the form of Kashi Vishwanatha which is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga, Varanasi is also one of the 52 Shaktipeetha of Hinduism. The 15.5 meter tall temple spire and the dome of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple are plated with 1000 kg of gold donated by the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, in 1835.
In Rigveda, Varanasi is referred to as Kashi meaning “the luminous one”. Kasikhanda of Skanda Purana describes the glory of Varanasi in 15, 000 verses!
Diana L. Eck, Director of The Pluralism Project, Harvard University says about Varanasi
The city illumines truth and reveals reality. It does not bring new wonders into the scope of vision, but enables one to see what is alrealdy there. Where this eternal light intersects the earth, it is known as Kashi (Varanasi)
Surya Vamsha (Solar Dynasty) Lineage from Raja Harishchandra to Lord Rama
- Rohitashva – Son of Harishchandra
- Bahu or Asit
- Dileepa I
- Bhagiratha – Sagara’s great-grandson. It was during his time that Ganges is said to have started flowing on Earth. So both Raja Harishchandra and Varnasi predate river Ganga
- Sindhu Dweep
- Saudas or Mitrasah
- Sarvakama II
- Ananaranya III
- Raghu I
- Khatwang Dileepa
- Raghu II or Dirghabahu