Activities to Do in Varanasi
Witness Grandeur Evening Aarti Ceremony, Explore Varanasi Temples, Take a Holy Bath in the Ganges, Morning Boat Ride in Ganges River, Go for a Sightseeing Tour of Sarnath, Stroll Along the Ghats, Savour Local Street Food, Visit Dashashwamedh Ghat and many more.
Colourful and spiritual are the two words best describe the charm of Varanasi. This Indian travel destination is famous for its bathing Ghats that line River Ganges. Considered to be one of the holiest places around the world, it is visited by millions of Hindus and travellers each year. While some come for spiritual enlightenment, others come for salvation of their sins. With a number of things to do in Varanasi, travellers are increasingly being enchanted by this beautiful destination.
Varanasi was once known as Kashi, the city of lights. Renamed after the Varuna and Asi Rivers, it shimmers and shines with millions of lights, candles, floating diyas and large Jyotis (items used for lighting during Hindu Prayers). The city is known for being an auspicious place to die, but still has a beating heart of its own. It is where physical and spiritual worlds beautifully combine. River Ganges here is the river of salvation, which offers Moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The magical Indian destination will captivate you with its Ghats and endless lines of Sadhus and Saints.
Best Time to Visit: October and March
Approx Distance From Delhi: 863 kms
Here are some of the best things to do in Varanasi:
1. Visiting the Kashi Vishwanath Temple:
Also known as the Golden temple, this temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the 12 prolific Jyotirlingas in the country. Tourists can visit this temple to witness the holy grand Shivling and to worship Lord Shiva. It is one of the most prominent things to do here in Varanasi. Also, the dome of this temple which is said to be made from pure gold and constitute as one of the finest architecture of the city is a gem to the eyes.
Location: Lahori Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001
Timings: 3 am – 11 am, 12:30 pm – 08 pm, & 09 pm – 11 pm
2. Exploring Manikarnika Ghat:
Considered as the holiest place in the city, Manikarnika ghat is the prime location for the cremation of bodies as per Hindu traditions. One can visit the Manikarnika ghat at any hour of the day and observe the whole cremation process which takes place here. People travel all the way especially to witness the cremation process which apparently provides peace to both dead and alive.
Location: Near Rajendra Prasad Ghat, Garawasi, Jugul Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001
Timings: Open 24 hours
3. Strolling on the Assi Ghat:
One of the most important things to do in Varanasi is visiting this ghat which is located in the south of the city. Assi ghat is the heart of Varanasi and the locals. Famous for its Shiva Lingam under a tree, Assi Ghat is one of the most lively places around the city. People also travel all the way to this ghat to witness the amazing sunrise and sunset.
Location: Assi Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Timings: Can visit anytime
4. Outing at Sarnath:
It is believed that Lord Buddha preached his first sermon here. Situated 13kms to the north of the city, Sarnath is the perfect location for a one-day outing outside the city. The place is surrounded by lush green gardens and lawns which serve as the best place for a small picnic and also you can visit the famous Buddhist monasteries around and the Jain temples. It's the best place to visit near Varanasi for those who seek interest in the history of Buddhism and India.
Location: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221007
Timings: 24 Hours
5. Witnessing the Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat:
What a spectacle it is to witness the Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat! Ganga Aarti is one true example of the rich cultural and traditional history of this place. It is what makes this ghat one of the few best things to do in Varanasi at night. Watching this Aarti is a truly phenomenal experience in itself.
Location: Dashashwamedh Ghat Rd, Ghats of Varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001
Timings: 24 Hours
6. Beholding the Miracle at Panchganga Ghat:
Varanasi is known to be the place for the Sangam(meeting) of the five holy rivers namely Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Dhutpapa and Kirana. At Panchganga Ghat the travellers can witness the place where these five rivers meet and can also explore the various small temples nearby the ghat.
Location: 7/111, Sonarpura Rd, Ghats of Varanasi, Bangali Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001
Timings: 24 hours
7. A Peek into the History at Tulsi Manas Temple:
Just as the Bible is to Christianity and the Quran is to Muslims, Ramayana is to the Hindus. This epic holy book of the Hindus was written by Tulsidas here in the Tulsi Manas Temple. The most important thing to do at this beautiful white marble temple apart from gazing at its beauty is to capture the greatness of the original verses and scriptures of Ramayana which are engraved on its walls and which give you literal peek into the history.
Location: Sankat Mochan Rd, Durgakund Rd, Near Jalan, Varanasi, 221005
Timings: 5 am – 12 pm & 04 pm – 09 pm
8. Visiting the Durga Kund Temple:
Built-in the honour of Goddess Durga, this temple is popularly known as the monkey temple. It is also one of the major highlights of the city. The main attraction here is the temple itself which is completely painted in red and draws tourists who love its architecture and strolling in and around the temple feeding the monkeys eatables.
Location: 27, Durgakund Rd, Durgakund, Anandbagh, Bhelupur, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005
Timings: 5 am – 11 pm
9. Morning Boat Ride in Ganges River:
Rowing boat rides during the dawn is perhaps one of the best things to do in Varanasi. The ride along Ganges River offers the quintessential Varanasi experience. It takes one through different Ghats and former palaces situated close to the banks of Ganges, giving a panoramic view of this River and the region. The best time to enjoy boat ride of the Ganges River is from 5:30 AM to 8 AM. This is when the colour and clamour of the place will enthral you. Travellers will be surprised to see that the city is awake and cheery even during 5 in the morning. Morning experience of the boat ride will leave an indelible imprint on your heart, especially because you will get to see the faith that people have in River Ganges.
During the ride, don’t be surprised to see Sadhus and pilgrims bathing and performing prayers in front of you. This entire ride will unfold the religious significance of Varanasi and why River Ganges is revered all over the world. Mostly, an hour long boat ride is ideal to give the traveller a taste of what this city has to offer. It usually starts from Dasawamedh Ghat, goes to the Harishchandra Ghat and then back. In the evening, you can see how women from all over the world light lotus flower candles and set it adrift in water. You can also opt for Ganges Aarti ceremony at the Dasawamedh Ghat. Travellers can access boats from Manmandir area.
10. Explore Varanasi Temples:
11. Take a Holy Bath in Ganges:
It is said that Ganga came to earth for giving salvation to 60000 ancestors. She came to earth as human, but her falling force is said to be so enormous that Lord Shiva had to hold her in his matted hair and he was the one who ultimately released her in the form of river. The river, associated to Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh is therefore revered by Hindus. Varanasi has 84 Ghats and their steps lead to the River Ganges. The Ghats can be accessed easily and used for dipping or taking bath in Ganga. To complement this, travellers are recommended to opt for boat rides, which will help you gain insight into the culture and historical significance of the mystical river.