A travel Guide to Varanasi

Varanasi Tourism

The spiritual capital of India, Varanasi, is visited by thousands of travellers from across the globe. Located on the banks of the Ganga, it is one of the holiest destinations in the country. With a glorious history of about 2,800 years, it is among the world’s oldest living cities. Devotees frequent this place to attain salvation and break free from the cycle of birth and death.

Varanasi has 84 ghats with steps leading to the River Ganga. Take a dip in the holy waters, enjoy an evening stroll along the ghats, attend the aarti or witness the mesmerising views of the region. Apart from this, the city is lined with several temples, forts, and other historic sites. Unearth the notable Varanasi tourist attractions and whet your appetite for spiritually stimulating trips.

Whether you are among the ones seeking god, looking for a spiritual experience, or simply taking a break from the hectic life, Varanasi India is the place to be. Oozing out an old-world charm, its ancient by-lanes, and chaotic commotion makes Varanasi tourism an ideal choice for many travellers worldwide. Call it Varanasi, Banaras, or Kashi; the city is where you will witness a myriad of experiences. Varanasi tours offer a divine-historical treat to the senses as soon as you step out of your hotels.

Places to visit in Varanasi

1. Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The famed Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most popular Varanasi tourist places. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is among the 12 Jyotirlingas - visited by thousands of tourists from across the world. Besides its religious significance, this 17th-century temple is also renowned for its brilliant architecture. The spires and domes of the shrine are plated with 800 kilograms of pure gold. Additionally, visitors are not allowed to take their phones, bags, and other belongings inside the temple premises.

2. Dasaswamedh Ghat

The vibrant atmosphere, spiritual ambience, and colourful aura make Dasawamedh Ghat one of the top Varanasi attractions. According to various scriptures, this is the place where Lord Brahma sacrificed 10 horses during a yagna - hence the name. The primary draw of the ghats is the Ganga aarti performed every night around 7 pm. Pilgrims from different corners of the world visit the Dasaswamedh Ghat in large numbers throughout the year.

3. Banaras Hindu University

An integral part of Varanasi tourism, Banaras Hindu University has been attracting tourists since 1916. With over 30,000 students, it is one of Asia’s largest residential universities. The lush green campus, covering an area of 1300 acres, is the star attraction of this place. Surrounded by green trees and natural surroundings, a visit to the Banaras Hindu University is ideal for spending some time away from the bustling of the ghats. Bharat Kala Bhavan, an on-campus museum, is also among notable Varanasi attractions. It houses an extensive collection of artefacts, miniature paintings, and other memorabilia of archaeological importance.

4. Ramnagar Fort and Museum

While talking about the Varanasi travel guide, we simply cannot miss mentioning the splendid Ramnagar Fort and Museum. This 18th-century fort has several historic temples, including the Veda Vyasa temple. Besides this, you can explore the museum filled with antique weapons, vintage cars, and elaborate artefacts from the past era.

5. Assi Ghat

The pious ambience, colourful surroundings, and the aroma of incense sticks make Assi Ghat one of the top places to visit in Varanasi. This is where devotees worship Lord Shiva, represented as Shiva Lingam, under a sacred fig tree. This lively ghat captures the city’s hustle-bustle in the most beautiful ways, alluring tourists from far and wide.

6. Tulsi Manas Temple

Another addition to the list of temples in Varanasi is the Tulsi Manas Temple. It is constructed at the same place where Tulsidas wrote the epic Ramayana. Built-in 1964, it is one of the most visited attractions in the city. The temple walls are engraved with the verses and scenes from Ramcharitmanas, adding to the charm of this historic temple. Make sure you visit the Tulsi Manas Temple to make the most of Varanasi tourism.

Things to do in Varanasi

Whether you are a spiritual seeker, a history buff, a foodie, or a photographer, there are plenty of interesting things to do in Varanasi.

Take a holy bath in the Ganges

The city of Varanasi is synonymous with the Ganga. Needless to say, taking a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges is a crucial part of the Varanasi travel guide. According to various Hindu legends, it is believed that bathing or taking a dip in the Ganga can offer salvation of sins and purify one’s soul. People from different age groups absolve their sins and attain moksha in Varanasi.

Immerse in the Spiritual Charm With a Boat Ride

A boat ride in the Ganges River is an unforgettable experience that you will cherish for a lifetime. The rowing boats will take you through various ghats, historic forts, and temples located close to the banks of the Ganga. The best time to enjoy an alluring boat ride is during the dawn and dusk hour. During this time, you can enjoy the natural and spiritual atmosphere in its full glory.

Attend the Grand Evening Aarti

Witnessing the evening art from the Dasawamed Ghat is undoubtedly one of the top activities to do in Varanasi. Becoming a part of this spectacular event is once in a lifetime experience that will engulf your heart and soul at once. The priests perform various rituals and offerings at this grand ceremony.  The voices of religious chants, lit brass lamps, and the aroma of flowers create a divine atmosphere like no other. This aarti is performed every evening at 6:45 PM.

Enjoy a Sightseeing Tour at Sarnath

Just a few kilometres away from Varanasi is the historic village of Sarnath. The region is a prominent Buddhist centre, home to various Buddhist monuments. Erected by the Emperor of Ashoka, these monuments and stupas are brimming with manuscripts and relics, depicting the jubilant past of the city. Besides this, the deer park in Sarnath is the place where Gautam Buddha first taught about Dharma. It is also the same place where Buddhist Sangha received enlightenment. With so much to learn and explore, a sightseeing tour at Sarnath is one of the best things to do near Varanasi.

Relish the street food

Your trip to Varanasi will not be completed without trying the local dishes served here. From sinful desserts, desi-ghees snacks, to main courses, there are endless options to indulge in. Varanasi cuisine is truly an amalgamation of several flavours that will turn you into a foodie if you are not already one! Chena Dahi Vada, Litti-Chokha, Banarasi Thandai, and Banarasi Paan are some of the must-try dishes.

Best Time to Visit Varanasi

While the city is a year-round destination, winter is the best season to visit Varanasi. During summers and monsoon, the weather is scorching and humid, making it a little uncomfortable visiting the Varanasi tourist places. Thus, the months between October to March are considered ideal for a memorable trip to Varanasi. Additionally, you can find affordable hotels in Varanasi for comfortable accommodation during your trip.

Besides pleasant weather conditions, several annual festivals are also celebrated during the winter season. Dussehra, Bharat Milap, and Diwali are some of the major festivals celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal throughout the city. However, the Ganga Mahotsav, celebrated in November, is among the most anticipated annual events. Devotees from different corners of the world visit the festival, paying homage to the holy river Goddesses.

You can witness much of the city’s spiritual, cultural, and historic allure during the winter season; thus, it is the best time to visit Varanasi.

How to Reach Varanasi?

The captivating city of Varanasi is well-connected to several parts of the country with an extensive network of flights, trains, and buses. For this reason, it is incredibly convenient to commute in and around the city via different modes -

By Airways - If you are wondering how to reach Varanasi by air, Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport is the closest. You can easily find a flight to Varanasi from major cities, making it easier to frequent the city. From here, you can hire a private taxi or cab to reach the city centre.

By Railways - Another feasible way to approach the city is via railways. Varanasi has two major railheads, namely the Varanasi railway junction and Kashi railway station. Both these stations are connected with several prime cities, including Delhi and Mumbai.

By Roadways - Varanasi is well-connected by an intricate network of roadways with cities like Patna, Allahabad, Lucknow, and Ranchi. Various government-owned and private buses run regularly between the cities.

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