The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river's religious importance. The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years. The Benares Gharana form of Indian classical music developed in Varanasi. American writer Mark Twain wrote: "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together."
Apart from a religious place, Varanasi is associated with famous Personalities & Legends. Varanasi is the place of Legends. Many of the famous personality are from the land of Lord Shiva "Varanasi". "Ustad" Bismillah Khan, "Pandit" Ravi Shankar, "Pandit" Channu Lal Mishra, "Pandit" Kishan Mahraj, are very famous names are known by worldwide in the history of Legends.
"Ustad" Bismillah Khan
Ustad Bismillah Khan was a great Shehnai player from India. His name was and will forever be associated with shehnai, the musical instrument that he made famous with his talent and deliberation in the post independent India. Khan belonged to a family of traditional musicians of Bihar who used to play in the courts of the princely states, which is why playing shehnai came very natural to him. He was brilliant at what he did - the reason why he had always played at the important national events for national audience like the first Indian Independence Day and first Republic Day. Khan with his simplicity, love for music and straightforwardness did not only become a national favorite but also gained a lot of popularity and love from the west. For his creativity and mastery in his art, Khan was bestowed with the title of ‘Ustad’ and earned many accolades like the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, honorary doctorates from Banaras Hindu University and Viswa Bharati University.
"Pandit" Channu Lal Mishra
Pandit Channulal Lal Mishra is one such gem of a Hindustani Classical singer from Banaras (Varanasi) and a distinguished exponent of Kirana Gharana (school) of Indian classical music. Pandit Ji , was born on August 3, 1936 in Hariharpur, Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh. He learnt music from his father Badri Prasad Mishra, and was trained by Ustad Abdul Ghani Khan of Kirana Gharana, and later by Thakur Jaidev Singh. He was awarded the ‘Padam Bhushan’- the third highest civilian honor in 2010, the ‘Shiromani Award’ of Sur Singar Sansad, Bombay, Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Academy Award, and the Bihar Sangeet Shiromani Award.
"Pandit" Ravi Shankar
Pandit Ravi Shankar is a living legend who is a genius Sitar player. Born on 7th April, 1920 in Banaras, his family was a Bengali Brahmin family who named him Ravindra Shankar. Shyam Shankar, his father, was a barrister. He had an elder brother Uday Shankar who was a famous Indian classical dancer. In his younger years, Ravi played Sitar the dance troupe of Uday Shankar, especially with Anna Pavlova. In 1938, he studied under his guru, Allaudin Khan. The dedication and determination shows in the fact that Ravi Shankar's career span extends over six decades and has been recorded in the Guinness World Record as the longest international career.
"Pandit" Kishan Mahraj
Pandit Kishan Maharaj, a famous Indian tabla player, He was fond of participating in the prominent occasions all over the world. He was honored with the Padma Shri award in the 1973 and the Padma Vibhushan award by the Indian President in the 2002. In the 1969, he again honored by the title of Sangeet Samrat from the Prayag Sangit Samiti. UP Sangeet Natak Akademi pleased him in 1972. He got Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1984 and Hafiz Ali Khan Award in 1986. He also awarded with the Ustad Inayat Khan Memorial award in 2002.