The city of Varanasi is located in the middle Ganga valley of North India, in the Eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh, along the left crescent-shaped bank of the Ganga river. It has the headquarters of Varanasi district. The "Varanasi Urban Agglomeration" — Being located in the Indo-Gangetic Plains of North India, the land is very fertile because low level floods in the Ganges continually replenish the soil.
On a local level, Varanasi is located on a higher ground between rivers Ganga and Varuna, the mean elevation being 80.71 m. As a result of absence of tributaries and canals, the main land is continuous and relatively dry. In ancient times, this geographic situation must have been highly favorable for forming settlements. But it is difficult to ascertain the original geography of Varanasi because the city's current location is not exactly the same as the one described in some old texts.
Varanasi is often said to be located between two confluences: one of Ganga and Varuna, and other of Ganga and Assi, (Assi having always been a rivulet rather than a river.) The distance between these two confluences is around 2.5 miles, and religious Hindus regard a round trip between these two places—a Pancha-kroshi Yatra (a five mile journey) ending with a visit to a Sakshi Vinayak Temple as a holy ritual.
Varanasi's "Old City," the quarter near the banks of Ganga, has crowded narrow winding lanes that are flanked by road-side shops and scores of Hindu temples. As atmospheric as it is confusing, Varanasi's labyrinthine Old City is rich with culture, and a deservedly popular destination for travelers and tourists. The main residential areas of Varanasi (especially for the middle and upper classes) are situated in regions far from the ghats; they are more spacious and less polluted.