Varanasi ［波羅奈国］ ( Vārānasī; Pali Bārānasī; Harana-koku): Also known as Benares. A city on the left bank of the Ganges River in northern India. It was the capital of the Kāshī kingdom, one of the sixteen great states in India in the sixth and fifth centuries b.c.e. Centuries before Shakyamuni Buddha, Varanasi was already a great center of religion and culture. When Shakyamuni visited Varanasi to preach, it was still prominent in those areas and was a commercial center engaged in trade with Shrāvastī and other cities. Deer Park, where the Buddha first preached, corresponds to present-day Sarnath, a few miles north of Varanasi. Later the Kāshī kingdom became a dependency of the Kosala kingdom and was eventually annexed by the kingdom of Magadha. When the Chinese priest Hsüan-tsang visited Varanasi in the seventh century, the city was prosperous; three thousand Buddhist monks living at more than thirty monasteries studied the doctrines of the Sammatīya school of Hinayana Buddhism there. The majority of the inhabitants, however, were non-Buddhists. In the eleventh century, Varanasi fell under the rule of the Muslims. Varanasi is now known as a sacred Hindu city.