There are many scammers in Varanasi who will try to fool you by selling fake jewelry, gemstones, performing different poojas and many other things. So, do not speak to strangers.
Review the accommodation where you plan to stay.
There are a lot of thugs who dress up as sadhus in and try to fool you. Hence, do not offer any money to someone who asks for help.
Do not pay for VIP passes inside temples.
Do not carry a lot of cash with you as incidences like pick pocketing are very common in Varanasi.
Pre-decide the fare if you are taking local public transport services. Book all you travel tickets through authorized travel agencies.
It is not allowed to consume alcohol in the vicinity of the temples, ghats and shrines but you can consume alcohol on the outskirts of Varanasi, where the minimum drinking age is 21 years.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
This is the most important place to see in Varanasi. This temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India and the history of this holy place dates back to over 3500 years. The architecture of this temple is worth witnessing as it depicts a unique grandeur. The temple used to have a golden dome and hence, it is also known as Golden Temple.
This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga but knwn as Monkey temple because of the monkey population which thrives in the premises of this holy site. It is a fun place to visit as along with paying visit to the Goddess, you will also get to have some adventure, hiding from the monkeys especially when they try to snatch the food bags from your hands.
One of the most important and crowded ghats in Varanasi, Dasaswamedh ghat is where all the tourists flock. It is located near the Vishwanath temple and is famous for its evening aarti. It is crowded with Sadhus, ascetics, devotees and beggars and this place will give you the true essence of Varanasi
. In the evening, you will see hundreds of oil lamps lit up for the aarti and later left in the river and the sight of these lamps floating on water is truly enchanting.
Manikarnika is the largest Hindu cremation ground in India and it has a story of mythological significance too. It is said that those who get cremated here attain Moksha and hence, it is an important place for Hindus.
This fort was built in the 18th century and is an important sightseeing destination
in Varanasi. You will get to see some unique ornamented swords, rare photos of tiger hunting and other items of the old era, which still retain its charm.
This mosque is famous mainly for its exquisite architecture and location. It is situated on the edge of River Ganga which makes it look more pleasing.
This is a sacred ghat situated near the spot where River Ganga and Assi meet. Devotees have a holy bath here, in order to pay homage to the huge Shiv Linga located near this ghat. It is situated in the southern part of Varanasi and hence is less crowded.
Sarnath is at a short distance to Varanasi and is an important pilgrimage site for the Buddhists. This is a place where Gautam Buddha is believed to have visited in 528 BC in order to preach the Wheel of law. It is an important site as mentioned in the Buddhist legends.
The feel you get while you are in Varanasi is like nowhere else in the world. You will feel a different energy, enthusiasm, fun, happiness and positivity when you see the local people and culture of Varanasi. Right from the way people talk, interact and live their lives, everything will give you a completely different satisfaction.
If you do not witness this aarti, you will miss out on a major part of your tour. It takes place on the Dasaswamedh Ghat and the hundreds of flickering oil lamps, adding an ornament to the darkness of the dawn will leave you awestruck with its beauty. The scene is totally worth your entire visit to Varanasi.
Though it is a popular tourist destination, this place has managed to maintain its old charm. This is mainly seen with the houses of locals, which are still constructed in the old architectural style, many of them being the old houses itself. There are very few tall apartments and housing complexes in Varanasi.
Right from God idols, holy books, Rudraksha malas, handicrafts, Indian fabrics and textiles and ofcourse the Banarasi sarees, there is no end to the kind of things you will get to buy in Varanasi.
Varanasi: A celestial city
Luminous Kashi to Vibrant Varanasi
The best time to visit Varanasi is during the winter months (November to February). Although it gets fairly cold during the winters, this is the best time when you can explore the holy city without getting tired. The average low temperature is around 5°C.
Varanasi has a well-developed transport network and is well connected to all the major Indian cities and states by air, road and rail.
- By air : Varanasi airport is well-linked to some of the major cities in India like Delhi and Mumbai. International tourists can board connecting flights from Delhi airport which is well-connected to all the major cities in the world.
- By Rail : Since Varanasi lies in the heartland of the North Indian plains, it is well connected to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and other parts of India. There are two railway stations in Varanasi, the Kashi Junction and the Varanasi Junction (also known as Varanasi Cantonment). Rajdhani Express from Delhi or from Calcutta passes through Varanasi too.
- By Road : Situated in the flat Ganga plains, Varanasi has a good network of roads. frequent public and private buses and road transport to all the major towns of Uttar Pradesh and nearby areas.
Things to do in Varanasi are not as numerous as to do lists in other cities, yet a few of them get overlooked by those planning a trip to this town. Here’s a list of things/activities to do in Varanasi:
- Boat ride in the mighty Ganges : The holy Ganges River supplies Varanasi with a spiritual charm with Rowing boat rides during the dawn which is perhaps one of the best things to do in Varanasi.
- Take a holy dip in Ganges : Varanasi has more than 84 Ghats with stairs leading to the waters. Bathing can be seen since the crack of dawn. People chant prayers to appease river Goddess.
- Rendezvous with the Gods in the temples of Kashi : Owing to their religious significance, temples feature high on the list of things to do in Varanasi.
- A stroll through the majestic Ghats at dawn : The Ghats along the River Ganga in Varanasi is the most charming sight in the holy city. Strolling along the Ghats at sunset hours is an unrivalled experience
- Evening aarti the Ghats of Ganges : The Evening Aarti Ceremony at Ganges River in Varanasi is undoubtedly a sight you shall cherish for a long time. The surreal ceremony must be viewed from the Dasaswamedh Ghat. Witness the beautiful rituals unfold themselves in front of your eyes and spellbind you. The Arti ceremony is performed every evening 45 minute ritual is held at 6: 45 PM.
- Shopping one of the finest handmade silks in the world : Known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery. These saris are mostly used by Indian bride.
- Go to sightseeing tour of Sarnath : Sarnath is located just 12 km the holy city of Varanasi. The holy site of Sarnath is popular because this is where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. The relics of the area draw visitors in huge numbers.
- Reminiscing history and culture in Varanasi : History has been written in every era Varanasi has seen. Every little nook and corner has a different story to tell.
- Hogging on the street food throughout the day: Food stalls serving a variety of mouth watering snacks can be found all around the city.
A variety of lavish hotels and resorts are present across Varanasi, apart from the finest hospitality these hotels have a number of tours to offer. Some the best resorts in Varanasi are:
- Rivatas by Ideal
- The Gateway Hotel Ganges, Varanasi
- Ramada Plaza JHV, Varanasi
- Radisson Hotel, Varanasi
- Hotel Surya, Kaiser Palace
- Hotel Madin
There’s a lot to explore in Varanasi and you definitely wouldn't like to miss any of it. Catering to the needs of every traveller there are a number of ways to commute around Varanasi such as :
- Taxi :Travelling around the city in a hired cab/taxi is generally convenient. Varanasi is the city of temples and ghats, so naturally you would want to visit as many of them as possible. A hired air-conditioned cab/taxi comes in handy during the summers too. There are quite a few car rental agencies in Varanasi and you would have no trouble in hiring a cab.
- On Foot:The streets of Varanasi are best explored on foot. Most of the ghats and temples are quite near to each other, so taking a walk to the temples is not a bad idea.
- Boat:Varanasi is situated on the banks of Ganges. Hence, travelling from one ghat to another on a boat is easy and quite an experience. In fact, it is recommended that you should take at least one boat ride during your stay in Varanasi.
Besides being famous for the ancient temples and River Ganges, Varanasi is also known for its market place. The hand-woven saris are just one aspect of Varanasi shopping.This city has a lot more to offer. Some of the must try places are:
- The Bed SIlk & Pashmina: Step into Bed Silk and Pashmina shop located at Assi Ghat in Varanasi for buying amazing fabrics of all kinds, including cotton, linen, silk and more.
- Baba Black Sheep: You can choose from a wide variety of fabrics where silk is the best among them. Here, beautiful silk sarees, scarves, and pashminas are bought by the shopaholics.
- Harmony Book Shop:The Harmony Book Shop has been a famous destination for book lovers in Varanasi since it opened up in 1996. Located in Assi Ghat, the Harmony Book Shop has become an iconic cultural center in Varanasi.
- Zindagi Jewelery Shop: The Zindagi Jewelry Shop has dazzling items on display all through the year. You will find everything from traditional to modern designs, gold and silver articles and other kinds of knick-knacks and souvenirs.
- Vishwanath Gali : For street shopping in Varanasi, Vishwanath Gali is the place. It is the best place for shopping for all the travelers. The street is always stacked with shopaholics who are enjoying their shopping.
- Aroma Garden: Aroma Garden is like a treasure trove in Varanasi. For a person searching for all the basic amenities at one place, Aroma Garden is the answer to the call. Must-buy items at this place are the natural, handmade incense and fresh, packaged date palms.
There is no end to popular pilgrimage points in Varanasi. Here are some of the popular pilgrimage points in Varanasi:
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple
- Ganga Ghats
- Durga Temple
- Gyan Vapi Kup
- Ramnagar Fort
Boating down the Ganges River during sunrise is one of the main attractions in Varanasi. There are different types of boats for hiring such as manually oared, motored boat, personal boat or shared boat. Boats can be rented at many Ghats such as Dashashwamedh Ghat, Assi Ghat, Meer Ghat, Man Mandir Ghat. The boats are rented on hourly basis and may also be rented as per your requirement.
Known for its diverse flora and fauna Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary is a perfect destination. Amidst the picturesque Chandauli district in southeastern regions of Uttar Pradesh, nearly 70 kilometers from the city of Varanasi, the sanctuary is a thrilling leap into the wild.
Best Time to Visit:Best time to visit is from July to February but the sanctuary is at its best during and after rainy season.
Timings: 6am-5pm, opens on all days
How to Reach:It is accessible by road and you can easily reach by bus/taxi from Varanasi.
Although the city is known for its ghats, temples, and music, there are many other famous places in Varanasi that must be seen and experienced on your Varanasi trip :
- Assi Ghat – A magnet for those seeking spirituality
- Dashashwamedh Ghat – The most vibrant Ghat in town
- Manikarnika Ghat – The prime cremation Ghat in Varanasi
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple – The only Jyotirlinga in Uttar Pradesh
- Tulsi Manas Temple – The place where Ramcharitmanas was written
- Durga Temple – The fabled old world legend
- Gyan Vapi Well – The well of knowledge
- Ramnagar Fort & Museum – The Mughal era fortification
- Chunar Fort – A spooky little rampart
- Sarnath – The famed historical ruin
Ganga aarti, one of the oldest prayer rituals of Banaras, is a spectacular ceremony in which prayers to river Ganga, who is hailed as a Goddess in Hindu mythology, are carried out. Camphor is lit and 7 priests in a unique dress code offer rhythmic prayer to River Ganga every evening at Dashashwamedh Ghat with huge grandeur.
When: Ganga aarti takes place at 6.45 PM
Where: Dashashwamedh ghat in the Varanasi.