The name Varanasi originates from the names of the two rivers: Varuna, still flowing in Varanasi, and Asi, a small stream near Assi Ghat. The old city does lie on the north shores of Ganges River bounded by its two tributaries Varuna and Asi.
According to legend, Varanasi was founded by the God Shiva. It is regarded as one of seven holy cities which can provide Moksha. The earliest known archaeological evidence suggests that settlement around Varanasi in the Ganga valley (the seat of Vedic religion and philosophy) began in the 11th or 12th century BC, placing it among the world's oldest continually inhabited cities. This city is older than Rome.
Varanasi is eternal and should be experienced that way. Do not come here with expectations of great shopping or party scene.