It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India. Many of its temples were plundered and destroyed by Mohammad Ghauri in the 12th century. The temples and religious establishments in the city now are dated to the 18th century. The earliest known archaeological evidence suggests that settlement around Varanasi in the Ganga valley began in the 11th or 12th century BC. Varanasi's "Old City", the quarter near the banks of the Ganges, has crowded narrow winding lanes edged by road-side shops and tallies of Hindu temples. As distinctive as it is puzzling, Varanasi's labyrinthine Old City is has a rich culture, attracting many travelers. Varanasi is well connected by air, rail and road. One of the major factors in Varanasi's sustained existence as an inhabited city is its role as a conventional transportation hub between different cities.