Kashi also known as Varanasi, is a city on the banks of the river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, India. it is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri). The Sapta Puri are seven holy pilgrimage centres in India. They are – Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi, Kanchipuram,
Ujjain and Dwarka.
The city’s religious importance continued to grow in the 8th century, when Adi Shankara established the worship of Shiva as an official sect of Kashi.
Kashi has been a cultural centre of northern India for several thousand years, and is closely associated with the Ganges. Hindus believe that dying here and getting cremated along the banks of the holy Ganges river allows one to break the cycle of rebirth and attain moksha, making it a major centre for pilgrimage.
The city is known worldwide for its many ghats, embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions. Of particular note are the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Panchganga Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat, the last two being where Hindus cremate their dead.
According to mythology, Kashi was founded by Lord Shiva, one of three principal deities along with Brahma and Vishnu. During a fight between Brahma and Shiva, one of Brahma’s five heads was torn off by Shiva.
As was the custom, the victor carried the slain adversary’s head in his hand and let it hang down from his hand as an act of ignominy, and a sign of his own bravery. A bridle was also put into the mouth. Shiva thus dishonoured Brahma’s head, and kept it with him at all times.
When he came to the city of Varanasi in this state, the hanging head of Brahma dropped from Shiva’s hand and disappeared in the ground. Varanasi is therefore considered an extremely holy site.
The city continued as an important centre of Hindu devotion, pilgrimage, mysticism and poetry which further contributed to its reputation as a centre of cultural importance and religious education.
Tulsidas wrote his epic poem on Rama’s life called Ramcharitmanas in Kashi. Several other major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi, including Kabir and Ravidas.
Kashi is said to be the most ancient city on the Planet. The challenge was to capture the ancient traditions and the culture which is a result of human genius.
Elysian Studios had chosen Kashi as their 3rd pilgrimage site to shoot after Rishikesh and Bodh Gaya for their VR series – Mystic Lands, which is one of the 1st VR series created in India.
Elysian Studios Founder and CEO Arvind Ghorwal, had chosen Shivala ghat for the team’s stay and they used to commute through the ghats which is the best experience of Kashi. They also visited the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The Temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva Temples. The main deity is known by the name Shri Vishwanath and also by the ancient name of deity Vishweshwara (means Ruler of the Universe).
When Elysian Studios team was shooting the VR experience at the ghats of Kashi, the ghats were extremely clean, thanks to PM Modi as Kashi is represented in the Parliament of India by the current Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi.
Just like the city, Elysian Studios wanted to keep the VR experience clean and thus created the experience as if you are visiting Kashi in reality.
Kashi – The City of Shiva is a VR experience which takes you to Kashi, a city designed to bring a union between the micro and the macro, a machine that would become a process of liberation for every human being who entered the space.
The VR experience got featured at various VR platforms. It also inspires people to make a pilgrimage to Kashi and experience one of the most holy city of India.
STUDIO: Elysian Studios