Varanasi also called Banaras or Kashi is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world which has key importance in the Hindu religion. This city is known for its Temples, Religion, Culture, Tradition, Art, Education and many more.
As per Hindus beliefs, a person who is adorned to die on the land of Kashi would attain Moksha (freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth). One of the prime rivers of India – Ganga flows through Varanasi and it is believed that by just taking a dip in the holy water of Ganges washes away all the sins.
The Ghats of Varanasi is also one of the attractions to see here as you get to see the different colors of Indian culture and tradition. Taking a boat ride on river Ganges offers you a mesmerizing sight of various religious rituals along the Ghats along with other activities.
Things to do in Varanasi
Varanasi has many things to offer to a tourist. Temples, Historical sites, Street foods, Apparel, etc. there are many things which you can experience in this magical city.
Below are some of the interesting activities in which you can indulge, while you are on your Varanasi tour.
Walk along the Ghats – Walk around the Ghats of Varanasi where most of the spiritual activities take place. Many pilgrims from all other parts of India visit these Ghats in Varanasi as according to Hindu beliefs, by just taking a holy dip in the water of river Ganga, all the sins are washed away. Sunrise is considered as the best time to take a dip in river Ganga. However, the rituals are done all through the day in these ghats and temples along the ghats.
The famous and important ghat of Varanasi is the Dashashwamedh Ghat where the interesting rituals and activities take place throughout the day. Other prominent ghats of Varanasi – Assi Ghat, Hanuman Ghat, Man Mandir Ghat, Kedar Ghat, etc. are also interesting ones to visit.
Evening Ganga Aarti – Evening Aarti is one of the routine rituals that takes place every evening just after the sunset. During this event, a huge crowd of pilgrims and tourists gathers at Dashashwamedh Ghat to witness the prayer. The prayer is led by Hindu priests who offer their regards to River Ganga and Lord Shiva by using a small fire standee, chanting mantras and music.
Street Food of Varanasi – One should not miss the street food of Varanasi when visiting this magical city. There are some popular street snacks in Varanasi that you must try when visiting this city.
Chhena Dahi Vada – fresh curd cheese balls dipped in sweet yogurt with chutney.
Malaiyyo – Winter street dessert, basically milk froth flavored with cardamoms, saffron, pistachios, and almonds.
Kachori Sabzi – A crispy deep-fried patty stuffed with lentils that are savored with aloo (potato) curry.
Dahi Chutney Gol Gappe – Small deep-fried light balls (made of Semolina or Wheat) filled with Yogurt, Chutney, and Spices.
Thandai – Banarasi Thandai is widely famous and is made from a mixture of almonds, fennel seeds, rose petals, cardamom, saffron, milk, and sugar.
Ramnagar Fort and Museum – Ramnagar Fort is located on the eastern bank of the Ganga river and was built during the 17th century. The museum here is the center of attraction which has some interesting displays. There are vintage cars from America, jewel-coated chairs, a weaponry section, unusual astrological clock, etc. There is Vyas Temple nearby, which is considered as a beautiful place to watch the sunset over the river.
Banaras Hindu University – BHU or Banaras Hindu University is one of the prominent educational establishments in India. Many great freedom fighters and nation builders have been a part of BHU. The buildings of the campus were built in the Indo-Gothic architectural style. The main attractions inside the campus are Bharat Kala Bhavan, a museum for ancient Artifacts, statues, woodworks, and others; Shri Vishwanath Temple, consisting of seven different shrines built in the 20th century; and Sayaji Rao Gaekwad Library, the largest library in the university with more than 13 million books.
Sarnath – No trip to Varanasi is complete without visiting Sarnath. It is one of the main attractions that you shouldn’t skip. The place is only ten kilometers from Varanasi and is a very important pilgrimage for Buddhists. It is considered to be the place where Gautama Buddha first taught the teachings of Dharma after his enlightenment. The best places to visit in Sarnath are:
- Dhamekh Stupa – A massive 43.6-meter tall cylindrical building standing on a place where Buddha first taught Dharma after receiving Bodhisattva.
- Chaukhandi Stupa – Another Buddhist Stupa that marks the exact location where Lord Buddha met his first disciples.
- Archeological Museum – The museum showcasing many artifacts and manuscripts related to Buddhism. It also houses the famous Lion Capital of Ashoka which is also a national emblem of India.
Budget for Varanasi Trip
If you are travelling from Delhi, there would be an estimated budget of around Rs. 4500 to Rs. 5000 which will include the following elements.
Otherwise, if you are planning from any other part of India then there would be additional charges for the transport you are using. Rest will remain same.
Transportation: Delhi to Varanasi by train @ INR 850 per person (Round Trip in Sleeper Coach)
Accommodation: Decent budget stay options starting from INR 400-500 per night
Food: Apart from Street foods there are many local food joints offering meals @ INR 100-150 per person
Activities: Boating on river Ganges @ INR 250 per hour
Miscellaneous: Entrance tickets @ INR 20 per Indian visitor and INR 250 per Foreigner
Street Foods @ INR 200-250 per person
How to get to Varanasi
Varanasi is well connected by air, rail, and road with the rest of India. There are frequent flights from Varanasi to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Khajuraho.
For those coming from Delhi, there are many overnight trains from Delhi to Varanasi Junction that takes around 12 + hours. One can also take the train to Mughal Sarai Junction which is 10 kilometers from Varanasi.
To reach the Main Ghat of Varanasi, you can take an auto-rickshaw at around INR 150 or try to get a cycle rickshaw which will cost you around INR 50. Cycle rickshaws are also considered the best way to get around the crowded areas of the old city of Varanasi but it is advisable to fix a final amount before proceeding further.