Known also as Banaras or Benares, the city stretches along the bank of the River Ganges and has been a prominent religious city since the sixth century BC. The city has raised famed and influential Indian scholars, academics, philosophers, poets and musicians. Legend has it the city of Varansai originated from the God Shiva, making it the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainisma, as well as being one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. The Hindu religion considers the city to be a tirthas; a place where Hindu followers can access the gods and goddesses coming down to earth. Varanasi is known for its industrial and cultural importance with an abundance of art, music and culture. Having such strong cultural and historical roots, the city’s second largest industry is tourism,with the first being its production and trade in muslin and silk fabrics, ivory works, perfumes and sculpture.