Things to do in Varanasi are not as numerous as to-do lists in other cities, yet a few of them are ignored by those planning a vacation to this town. Varanasi is as old as human civilization. Uttar Pradesh is home to this ancient city, perched on the banks of the Ganges. Varanasi, one of India's seven sacred cities, also goes by the names Benares and Kashi. From birth to death, every aspect of earthly existence—and some argue even salvation—can be found only in the 5000-year-old city. The city's experience defies description.
Varanasi brings two worlds together, each fascinating in its own way. Pilgrims think that the city, located at the pulsing center of Hindu tradition, offers moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death). Then there are modernist overtures in activities like the evening aarti, which is a massive spectacle.
HERE IS A LIST OF 11 THINGS TO DO IN VARANASI WHEN YOU VISIT THIS HOLY CITY
1. BOAT RIDE IN THE GANGES RIVER
The sacred Ganges River provides spiritual enchantment to Varanasi, and rowing boat tours in the early morning are one of the top things to do in Varanasi. The journey along the Ganges River is just one of the many memories you'll have of Varanasi. It takes you through many Ghats and erstwhile palaces near the Ganges, providing a panoramic view of the river and the surrounding area. Respect Hindu rites.
The greatest time to take a boat trip on the Ganges River is around dawn or sunset. Early morning, between 5:30 and 8 a.m., is an excellent time to observe the sunrise and let the city immerse you in its allure. A sunset boat trip, especially during the aarti, is equally spectacular.
2. TAKE BATH IN THE GANGES
Varanasi benefits spiritually from the holy Ganges River. The Ganges River's waters are sacred. Everyone who bathes in the divine river receives redemption. Pilgrims of all ages from over the world take a dip in the river to wash away their sins and achieve moksha, or escape from the cycle of birth and death.
Varanasi features approximately 84 ghats, which are steps that lead down to the waterways.
Bathing here begins at the crack of dawn.
Prayers are chanted to appease the river deity.
3. RENDEZVOUS WITH GODS AT THE TEMPLES OF VARANASI
Temples are high on the list of things to do in Varanasi because of their religious significance. The temples of Varanasi give a direct meeting with the gods in the holy country of gods. Every nook and cranny of the historic city has a temple. Some temples are linked to Hindu mythology legends, and many are established to respect their faith. The temples' architecture is noteworthy. The spiritual atmosphere is soul-cleansing and well worth your time.
The most well-known temple in the area is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Queen Ahilyabai Holker of Indore erected the temple, which is encased in two gold domes, in 1780. The Vishwanath Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva is enshrined here. The 18th-century Durga Temple, Annapurna Temple, Ankatha Temple, Kalbhairav Temple, Mritunjay Mahadev Temple, Tulsi Manas, Sankatmochan, Bharat Mata Temple, and others are also popular.
4. A SUNSET STROLL ALONG THE GHATS
Varanasi's Ghats along the Ganga River is the most lovely sight in the holy city. Walking along the Ghats at sunset is an unforgettable experience. One of the nicest things to do in Varanasi is to explore the Ghats. The city contains about a hundred Ghats, the steps of which lead to the Ganges River. Hindus from all over the world, are bathing Ghats, praying Ghats, and cremation sites.
Dashashwamedh Ghat, which is linked to two Hindu mythology, is one of the best places to visit. Other notable Ghats include the Assi Ghat, Mata Anandamai Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Munshi Ghat, Raj Ghat, Scindia Ghat, and others. Tulsi Ghat is well recognized for curing leprosy and is highly regarded by all.
5. EVENING AARTI CEREMONY AT GANGES RIVER
When it comes to things to do in Varanasi, the evening aarti is one of the most popular pastimes for visitors. The evening Aarti ceremony by the Ganges River in Varanasi is surely a sight to remember.
The bizarre event must be witnessed by Dasawamedh Ghat. Watch as exquisite rituals unfold in front of your eyes, spellbinding you. During the spiritual greeting, enormous brass lamps weighing nearly 4.5 kg are utilized. Chants, flower smells, and incense combine to produce a lovely blessing.
The dusk sky glows with exquisite splendour. The Arti ceremony is held every evening at 6:45 p.m. for 45 minutes.
6. LOOKING FOR A WEAVERS' VILLAGE IN VARANASI?
Varanasi's weavers are widely renowned for producing some of the most stunning masterpieces. Sarai Mohana village is known for its silk weaving and is the weavers' village. These weavers produce some of the best Banarasi sarees in India. They are well-known for their gold and silver brocade, zari, quality silk, and ornate needlework. Indian brides typically wear these sarees.
Discover the skill of the weavers in the village of Sarai Mohana, with their diverse designs. These weavers work hard to design these sarees in order to maintain their uniqueness. The saree masterpiece takes 15 days to one month to finish, and sometimes up to six months.
7. GO FOR A SIGHTSEEING TOUR OF SARNATH
Sarnath is around 12 kilometers from Varanasi, India's holiest city. The sacred place of Sarnath is well-known since it was here that Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after attaining enlightenment. The relics in the area, one of four holy Buddhist places, draw a considerable number of people.
After being destroyed by the Turks, there are some fascinating ruins to examine. The Dharmekh Stupa is magnificent. The pillar, which was built in 200 BC, is 128 feet tall and 93 feet wide. Mulagandhakuti Vihara commemorates the location where the Buddha meditated during his first rainy season. The carvings on the Ashoka Pillar in Sarnath are quite interesting. There are also six national temples representing diverse Asian groups, including a Tibetan and a Sri Lankan temple. The archaeology museum in Sarnath is worth visiting because it houses treasures.
8. REMINISCING HISTORY IN VARANASI
Varanasi's history has been chronicled at every age. Every epoch has left behind some intriguing relics. The GyanVapi Well, or Well of Wisdom, is thought to have housed the linga from the ancient Vishwanath Temple, which was damaged in the 17th century by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb.
The Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum is housed at the Banaras Hindu University, which was founded by Sanskrit scholar Madan Mohan Malviya. Explore its enormous collection of around 12000 Indian paintings from the 11th to 20th century.
Ramnagar Fort, located across the river beyond the Assi ghat, was erected in the 17th century. For nearly 400 years, it has been the residence of Varanasi's royals. Despite being nearly in ruins now, the palace retains its beauty and memorabilia.
9. SHOPPING IN VARANASI
Shopping in Varanasi is a terrific way to bring back memories of the holy city with you. The city is well-known for its silk saris and exquisite gems; visit the local market to see the vibrant colors, detailed patterns, and sophisticated designs.
Aside from saris, shawls, carpets, stone inlay work, bangles, and idols of Hindu or Buddhist deities are available. Vishwanath Lane, Thatheri Bazaar, Chowk, and Godowilia are the main retail locations to visit in this city.
10. EATING OUT IN VARANASI OR FOOD IN VARANASI
Food in Varanasi is a culinary adventure. Enjoy the huge variety of delicious dishes. Varanasi's streets offer the most famous meals and diverse specialties that are unique to this city.
The well-known snow cone, roasted peanuts, delectable chat dishes such as Tamatar Chat, Pani Puri, Kachoris, Aloo Tikki, and a range of sweets like Jalebis, Banarasi Kalakand, Rabri, and so on. Another renowned Banaras dish is paan. It is a Varanasi specialty composed of betel leaf and should surely be on your list.
Famous Street Food Places in Varanasi
Deena Chaat Bhandar, Gol Ganj
Blue Lassi Shop, Kachori Gali Chowk
Laxmi Chai Wale near Godowlia Road
Baati Chokha Restaurant at Teliyabagh
11. PLACES TO VISIT NEAR VARANASI
Varanasi is virtually in the center of India, lying in the heart of the country. There are numerous sites to explore in and around Varanasi. Visitors must see Vindhyachal, one of the 64 Shakti Peethas, before leaving.
Check out Chandra Prabha Sanctuary, which is blessed with excellent picnic sites and natural beauty. Architectural historians are interested in Chunar Fort and Jaunpur.
There are also several lovely Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temple remains. Ram Nagar Durga Puja is also a fascinating venue to visit.
12. HOTELS IN VARANASI
People visit Varanasi all year. People from many walks of life visit the holy city for a variety of reasons. Every tourist to the city has the choice of selecting a hotel that meets their budget and other requirements.
Some old hotels in India date back to the Raja and Maharaja eras. Hotels in Varanasi range from antique overlooking terraces and palatial suites to economical motels with all the required comforts.
13. FESTIVALS & EVENTS IN VARANASI
Varanasi has numerous fairs and festivals throughout the year. Bharat Milap (October-November) commemorates Lord Ram's return to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile and happens a day after Dussehra.
Mahashivratri is also a big event here, attracting thousands of devotees each year. On Buddh Purnima, a colorful fair in Sarnath draws a big crowd of Buddhists to commemorate Lord Buddha's birth.
The Ramleela is a Ramayan enactment that takes place for an entire month in October and November.
The Dhrupad Mela is a 5-day musical festival held on the Tulsi Ghat in March that brings together notable artists from India and throughout the world.
14. VISIT THE HISTORICAL RAMNAGAR FORT
Ramnagar Fort, erected by Kashi Naresh on the Ganges' eastern bank, is a magnificent site to see. A boat journey from Dashashmeveda Ghat provides excellent photo opportunities. Despite its crumbling state, the fort stands imposingly towering alongside the riverbank. The fort is entirely made of sandstone and features pavilions, a courtyard, and multiple balconies.
The Saraswati Museum is a must-see when visiting Ramnagar Fort. The museum is decorated with classic American vehicles, sedan chairs, and ivory artifacts. But the prize is the incredible armament. Another reason to visit this fort at an opportune time is the yearly Ram Lila festival. Various episodes have been staged as part of the Ram Lila celebrations every October. The celebrations conclude on the tenth day with the burning of effigies of the demon king Ravana to mark the triumph of good over evil.
BEST TIME TO VISIT VARANASI
The best time to visit Varanasi is between October and March when temperatures range from 5 to 15 degrees Celsius. Festivals are also held in Varanasi throughout the winter months. In September and October, Dussehra and Bharat Milap are celebrated in close succession, followed by Diwali, the festival of lights. In November, the Ganga Festival is held, and people travel long distances to pay their respects to the holy river goddesses.
Summer and the monsoon season last from April to September/October, and it is extremely hot throughout this time.
How to Reach Varanasi
Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport, located 25 kilometers from the city center, is the closest airport to Varanasi.
There are regular domestic flights as well as flights from Kathmandu and Thailand. Buses, automobiles, and taxis are conveniently accessible from the airport terminal.
The Varanasi Railway Station is regularly served by trains from all across India. Mughal Sarai Railway Station, located 10 kilometers from the city, also provides train service to various Indian locations.
The railway station is located near the city. Taxis and autos will take you to any location in the city.
The road network to Varanasi is fantastic. The city is connected by road to major cities in Uttar Pradesh and neighboring regions.
The route is also served by state-run buses and private air-conditioned buses. Furthermore, taxis provide convenient transportation.
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