Varanasi

[ vuh-rah-nuh-see ]
/ vəˈrɑ nə si /

noun

a city in southeastern Uttar Pradesh, in northeastern India, on the Ganges River: Hindu holy city.

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What does “barren” mean?
Formerly Ba·nar·es [buh-nahr-is], /bəˈnɑr ɪs/, Be·na·res [buh-nahr-is, -eez] /bəˈnɑr ɪs, -iz/ .
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British Dictionary definitions for Varanasi

Varanasi
/ (vəˈrɑːnəsɪ) /

noun

a city in NE India, in SE Uttar Pradesh on the River Ganges: probably dates from the 13th century bc; an early centre of Aryan philosophy and religion; a major place of pilgrimage for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists, with many ghats along the Ganges; seat of the Banaras Hindu University (1916), India's leading university, and the Sanskrit University (1957). Pop: 1 100 748 (2001)Former names: Benares, Banaras
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012