Over 44% voters exercised their franchise till 3pm in this temple town, breaching the polling percentage of 42% in 2009 with three hours of voting still remaining in the high-profile constituency where BJP's Narendra Modi and AAP's Arvind Kejriwal are in the fray.
Braving the hot and humid weather, people came out to vote in large numbers in rural areas as well as in places like Nadesar, Ram Nagar, Beniabagh and Benaras Hindu University campus in the urban pockets.
Long queues were seen in almost all Muslim dominated localities within the city as well as on the outskirts. Around 16 lakh people are eligible to vote here of which nearly 3 lakh belong to the Muslim community.
An official said that 44.8% polling was recorded till 3pm.
Earlier in the day, Congress nominee Ajay Rai landed in trouble as, following a directive from Election Commission, police registered an FIR against him for allegedly violating the election code of conduct by wearing his party's symbol on his kurta while going to cast his vote.
Senior police officials said the FIR against Rai was lodged at Sigra police station and Sections 126 and 130 of Representation of Peoples Act and 171(H) of IPC, relating to the poll code, have been slapped against him.
Defending himself, Rai said he had not intentionally worn the badge and argued that election officials at the booth should have warned him about the violation. The booth at Ramakant Nagar where Rai cast his vote reported 50% polling till 3pm
Polling began at 7am amid tight security and Anant Narayan Singh, the present king of Kashi (old name of Varanasi) and Rai were among the first to vote.
Returning Officer Pranjal Yadav said no untoward incident has been reported so far from any area and voting has been largely peaceful. Along with the Special Election Observer, he visited a number of booths to get first-hand information about the arrangements.
Snags in electronic voting machines were reported in some booths early in the morning but they were replaced immediately by election officials. Voters at some booths complained about their names not being on voters' lists. An official, meanwhile, said that upon a complaint by BJP, an AAP worker was detained in the Shivpuri area. Around 45,000 security personnel have been deployed in the city to ensure free and fair polls.
Over 1,200 booths have been put under surveillance through CCTV cameras while videography has been arranged for the remaining 300-odd booths. Top police officers of Uttar Pradesh have come down to the city to assess the security situation and make foolproof arrangements for what is being dubbed as the blockbuster battle of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.