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Oldest Living (Continuously Inhabited) City of the World

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

  • Harishchandra
  • Rohitashva – Son of Harishchandra
  • Harit
  • Chanchu
  • Vijay
  • Ruruk
  • Vrika
  • Bahu or Asit
  • Sagara
  • Asmanja
  • Anshuman
  • 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
  • Shrut
  • Nabhag
  • Ambarish
  • Sindhu Dweep
  • Pratayu
  • Shrutuparna
  • Sarvakama
  • Sudaas
  • Saudas or Mitrasah
  • Sarvakama II
  • Ananaranya III
  • Nighna
  • Raghu I
  • Duliduh
  • Khatwang Dileepa
  • Raghu II or Dirghabahu
  • Aja
  • Dasharatha
  • Rama
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  1. Now I knew why I irk too much when somebody lies to me. Even I try to be honest, as I could. My father had told me that we are descendants of Raja Harischandra Ji. Thank you so much for writing such an informative piece!! Namesake.

  2. Proud of our Indian culture, being born as Hindu in India. Ours is one of the most ancient cultures in the world! Ancient times were golden era w/riches no other land knew or had! That’s why lot of foreigners invaded our land for the riches & looted our wealth as much as they could ( mostly the Muslims, British). We never invaded another country.
    Proud to be Hindu, Indian!

    • It depends on your perspective. In Sanatana Dharma all human beings, in fact the whole creation, is part of the same whole, the Param Purush Parmatma. From that view, anyone and everyone can be considered to be a form of God. The only difference being that the ones with cleaner conduct and conscience have the light of the divine shining bright and those with unclean conduct have their light dimmed, covered in layers of grime.
      If you are going by more general definition, then, all humans who took birth on this earth are humans only. The ones who have a higher concentration of positive characteristics, are considered closer to God. But still restricted to human limitations. Only very rarely, when the human has been following his/her Dharma(duty) every living moment of his/her life.

  3. Aha, about 8000 years ago Varanasi existed without Ganga, interesting Gurudev, wonder what people did before Bhagirath brought Ganga from the heavens? Or the river that flowed along the smashan ghats was a different river then?

    • Good question. Before the times of Bhagirath, Ganga was not a major river. Ganga water has its source in six headstreams – Alaknanda, Dhauliganga, Nandakini, Pindar, Mandakini, and Bhagirathi.

      Of this the stream Bhagirathi was united with river Ganga at Devaprayag by Bhagiratha during the period mentioned above, it was a major river inter-linkiing project he got implemented in his time. Since Bhagiratha provided this major water source to Ganga, it became popular as Bhagirathi. Even today the stream is called Bhagirathi, and it joins the other 5 streams at Devaprayag.

  4. I hv heard from svbc channel that Varanasi is a place on earth blessed by lord Shiva who is also lord Vishnu ie non duality, that it is a place which is always in satya yuga. In Satya yuga most of the people attain moksha even though it is difficult to attain and so when a person dies in Varanasi he attains Moksha where lord Shiv gives Moksha by doing tandav and saying mrituynjai mantra in the ears of the person dying. The Bhasma of lord Shiv clears of all sins and makes the person of good nature and makes him realize his mistakes and gives him satgati and gyan when applied all over the body. About Mahapadnanda I hv read that he was the son of Mahanandin’s queen of shudra cast and became king after killing all of his brothers. He had a non vedic ideology and was evil all these bad qualities were very rare in kings in those days and was considered a bad omen and indicated a rise in Kaliyuga. Kaliyug is supposed to have a rise in evil 7 times , maybe this was one of them. 1 rise is after lord Krishna left us and one is may be Mongols (Genghis Khan) creating changes in a religion and making it evil opposite of dhrama, maybe the english rule in India destroying hinduism is one of them, and the ruling of corrupt politicians may be one of them. It is said that in each of these rise time is going to change its speed. It will go on increasing and things will happen so fast in the life of a man and through out the world that a week will become a day or will seem like it and later may be a month will become a day comparing it with the days before Kali yuga. We can easily compare the days today with earlier time we come to know of so many news and changes in the world within a day where in those days changes were not so rapid and in life of man today 24hrs dont seem to be enough for a day. If we observe the news for last week there was destruction everywhere in Pakistan 3 news of killings by terrorists and in India Sikkim earthquake,people died in Syria and Yemen and in China more then 100 dead due to floods and in Japan also due to hurricanes. Before that if we observe there were floods through out the world and in many places in India. We come to know that everything is speeding up. It is said that this is so that the sufferings will be reduced as time will increase its pace.                                                                                                                              
         Did the story of testing of Harishchandra by Vishwamitra take place in Varanasi where a fire surrounded him and he had to say a lie in order to get out of the fire and Chandramati devi makes a way out of it showing the strength of Pativrata nari.

    • Good information and nice observations Akshay. Hope wisdom prevails and world returns to the order of co-existence and peace soon.

      The fire incident takes place on the way to Varanasi inside a forest. But Harishchandra does not lie in this incident either. Instead his wife ensures that Agni puts off the fire without having her husband to tell a lie.

      • Oh I made a typing error Vishvamitra tested him whether he would say a lie to save himself and his wife. People would not believe me or anybody if I said what changes the world is going through right now and we can see all those miracles in India and the world. Check predictions of Veer Brahmendra Swami. If you are a good bhakt you would keep getting to know about his predictions happening in these years. Veer Brahmendra Swami preached non dualism and Guru Charitra also says the same. If you go against any one Vishnu or Shivji but worship the other then one of them can save you but if you go against Guru then no one can save you. That is because you consider Guru dev as all three. But the actual fact is that Brahma Vishnu and Shivji are the same. People in Satya Yuga know that, then as we pass down to the lower three yugas you start distinguishing features of god. The way you perceive God he comes in that form for his devotees. Even Durga chalisa and Jai ambe Gauri aarti states that Saraswati, Parvati and Lakshmi are one and the same. This is a good link about non duality and other stories lots of good info is shared here http://moralstories.wordpress.com/2006/05/29/story-of-shiva-and-vishnu/

  5. hi Guru,
    another mindblowing article… Just out of curiousity, what happened to lineage of Rama after lava &kusha.. are they present today? Pardon me if i am asking a wrong question… i do not know much about this history..

    • Good question Sukanya. Brihadbala was the ruler of Ayodhya during the times of Mahabharatha. He was a direct descendant of Rama’s lineage of Surya Vamsha. Ironic it many sound, he sided with Kauravas in the Mahabharatha war and was killed by Abhimanyu. 

      The last known ruler of this dynasty was Sumitra who ruled Ayodhya around 1500 BCE and was overthrown by Mahapadma Nanda of Magadha’s Nanda Dynasty. The same Nanda dynasty which was later overthrown by Chandragupta Maurya with the help of his mentor Chanakya, creating the great Mauryan Empire.

          • itzguru=u belive u want to belive. u want others to belive u belive. in india old man’s dead body ceremation gold/silver ‘sidhi’ is given to brahman as dakshina for seen 7 pidhis, say died 100 year of age, forget pidhi of his father n grad father 2 pidhi n take 5 pidhi- 1)self =100yr 2)son= 80yr 3)grand son 60 yr 4)great grand son=40 yr 5)gt gt gd son=20yr which abandent clear generation/ pidhi of 20 yrs not of 40 yrs. even these days girls/boys getting married at age of 16 n getting children. vishvamittra asked for ram/laxman to care of ashram for which dasrath stated what raksha these boys can do,that means 13/14 yrs when gone for sita swyamber. in mahabharat abhimanu was married s/o subhadra who was asked for duryodhan’s son but she had relationship with arjuna twice in age than her’s was made to run away by krishna to be 4th wife of him whose stated to father pandu s/o vyas step brother of bhisham who brought satyawati fisherwoman loved by his father must have seen grand father so 32 genration from harischander to ram=32*20=around 600yrs n not 1280yrs also some genration may not have ruled even couple of years. do’t forget harischander had been in services of chandal at burialgrounds. what calannder india using for festiwals n date of birth of ram that is vikrami samvat introduced by vikramaditya s/o dardabhilla 57BC.

            • killer of akshtriyas pasuram 6th vishnu avtar fought with shantnu f/o bhisham, rebuked ram 7th vishnu avtar asking who broke shiv dhanush (sita swyambar) in mahabhrat above bhisham / dron sitting like impotents his nephue vidur had to leave shabha during dropati cheerharan krishna 8th vishnu avtar came n made her cheer long enough whose all relatives got killed in his presence n himself too was killed by ordinary hunter, is it not son, father n grand father like 6th/7th/8th vishnu avtars

              • as u sow so shall u reap. dropati spoke harsh words. andhe ki aulad bhi andhi caused great insult n cheerharn. however once she torn some part of her sari n gave the piece to a blind saint whose langot lost in the current of river while bathing in the same river at some distance, while in trouble during her cheerharan she/her atma cried so paramatma retuned that piece of sari in multiplication. had pandu not hunted/killed the mating deer /rishi there would have been no curse n he have not died. similarly in case of curse of parents of shravan kumar could be avoided had ram’s father dashrath no animal killing habit/hunting. one should think/ speak/act good as every living being is self/soul/ atman/brahman anas of parmatman/parambrahman who neither takes birth nor dies n on realization of self one goes to satyalok attains moksha. suka who was born brahman was not not brahman till realised self/soul/brahm through his guru janak. caste is known by character/deeds not by birth. karma push one to costumes of dog/donkey/ man/bird may be moksha. soul come/goes alone, none son/wife accompaysoul . property is divided not karmas/sanskaras which r carried by soul for whatsoever life it deserves. in mankind nobody is superior or inferior all strike like brothers for glory n prowess (rig ved 5:10:5)


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