Renowned as the world’s oldest living city, Varanasi is fondly called Banaras and Kashi. It is also referred to as the ‘Spiritual Capital of India’ and one of the holiest cities in Hinduism. Boasts about rich cultural heritage, prehistoric monuments, world-famous river Ghats, and ancient temples, Varanasi is a must-visit tourist destination for those who are interested in exploring India in its best form.
It is said that Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, and even older than legends. Banaras is known as Lord Shiva’s city and attracts millions of tourists year after year from all over the world. Here is the Varanasi tourism guide with which you can get detailed information about this holy city. Take a look and know about the popular tourist places of Varanasi, things to do, how to reach, and accommodation facilities in Banaras.
Why visit Varanasi?
Varanasi is among the seven holy cities in Hinduism that oozes spirituality and mesmerizing beauty. This city is located on the bank of the River Ganges and is home to almost 80 Ghats where people take a holy dip, which is believed to banish all the sins from the body and soul. It is believed that if one dies here he or she will be liberated from the eternal cycle of birth and rebirth. The quintessential charm of this holy city enhances the Varanasi travel experience.
Best known for its narrow winding lanes, numerous temples, and Ghats that are the centers of a lot of religious activities, Varanasi is akin to Jerusalem and Mecca and features amongst the top holy places in the world.
From dawn to dusk, the banks of the pious river Ganges are frequented by a large number of pilgrims. These Ghats bustle with a whole lot of activities performed by them. The devotees take a dip in the sacred river, perform various religious rites, collect water in pots to take back home for different rituals, and seek blessings of the saints.
On your travel to Varanasi, you can not only witness the unique experience of all the things happening at the Ghats of Varanasi but also actively participate in them. The air reverberates with the chants of the Sanskrit Shlokas and offers blissful experiences. The Ghats of Banaras does have a quaint charm that is simply not explicable in words. One can have the best view of these Ghats while enjoying the boat rides in the Ganges River.
The ancient temples of Varanasi have a unique charm. These temples are architectural marvels, which can leave anyone spellbound. The gold-plated spire on the Vishwanath Temple is sure to impress any onlooker. Varanasi is also home to some of the popular monuments including the museums, which house a very interesting collection of arts and artifacts and for shopping so that you can buy some exquisitely beautiful Banarasi Sarees. These amazing tourist places of Varanasi make your tour memorable.
Best time to visit Varanasi
The winter season is the best time to visit Varanasi. From November to March, Varanasi experiences pleasant and soothing weather which makes the sightseeing and outdoor activities comfortable. The temperature remains low and the region enjoys the soothing breeze throughout the day. In the summer and monsoon seasons, Varanasi experiences hot and humid weather, which makes sightseeing difficult. Ganga Mahotsav, Deepavali, Maha Shivaratri, and Chhath Pooja are the popular festivals of Varanasi that are celebrated every year in the winter season, which attracts a large number of tourists. This festival is the perfect way to witness the rich cultural heritage of Banaras.
Places to visit in Varanasi
There is no dearth of places to visit in Varanasi. Here is the list of some of the popular tourist attractions, which you can explore during your travel to Varanasi. These tourist places comprise old-world charm and attract a large number of tourists from all over the world. Some of the top places to visit in Banaras are:
- Assi Ghat
- Dashashwamedh Ghat
- Manikarnika Ghat
- Shivala Ghat
- Ahilyabai Ghat
- Rana Mahal Ghat
- Panchganga Ghat
- Kedar Ghat
- Manmandir Ghat
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple
- Tulsi Manas Temple
- Durga Temple
- Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
- Sita Samahit Sthal
- Batuk Bhairav Mandir
- Bharat Mata Mandir
- Ramnagar Fort & Museum
- Chunar Fort
- Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum
- Man Mandir Observatory
Things to do in Varanasi
Varanasi is renowned for temples, Ghats, and vibrant culture. This alluring city leaves travelers captivated with its holiness and tranquility. There are a plethora of things to do in Varanasi, which can make your tour to Varanasi memorable and a lifetime experience. Here are the top things to do in Banaras:
- Attend evening Aarti ceremony at Dashashwamedh Ghat
- Morning boat ride in Ganges River
- Take a holy bath in the Ganges River
- Stroll along the Ghats
- Explore the holy temples
- Shopping in the local market
- Savor the local delicacies
- Sightseeing tour of Sarnath
- Attend festivals in Varanasi
How many days are enough to visit Varanasi?
2-3 days are enough to explore the enchanting beauty of Varanasi. You can get glimpses of the rich cultural and traditional heritage of the city in this duration. However, you can extend the trip if you wish to explore the nearby tourist places of Varanasi such as Bodh Gaya, Allahabad, Sarnath, and Lucknow.
Average Varanasi trip costs
The average cost for the Varanasi trip is INR 8,000 to INR 17,000 per person. However, it depends on various factors such as type of accommodation, mode of traveling, and places to visit. It can vary with the number of sightseeing tours and the type of outdoor activities.
Accommodation in Varanasi
There is a wide range of accommodation options available in Varanasi such as hotels, resorts, guest houses, lodges, ashrams, and Dharamshalas. From luxury resorts to budget hotels, Varanasi has something for every kind of traveler. Here are some of the best places to stay in Varanasi:
- Taj Ganges
- Amritara Suryauday Haveli
- Ramada Plaza JHV
- BrijRama Palace – A Heritage Hotel
- Hotel Surya, Kaiser Palace
- Taj Nadesar Palace
- Hotel Heritage Inn
- Shiva Ganges View Guest House
- Hotel Banaras Haveli
- Ganges Grand
- Palace on the Ganges – Heritage Hotel
Where to eat in Varanasi?
Varanasi is among the most significant spiritual destinations of Hinduism. There is another side of this holy city as well, it is a paradise for food lovers. Varanasi offers myriads of food options to satiate the tastebuds of the foodies. Here is the list of few handpicked locations where you can savor the local culinary delights during the trip to Varanasi.
- Kashi Chaat Bhandar – Tomato Chaat, Dahi Puri, Chura Matar, Palak Patta Chaat
- Shree Shivaya Varanasi –
- Aum Café – Dal Chilla, Chocolate Chip Pancake with Masala Chai
- Zaika Restaurant – Mughlai cuisines, Veg and non-veg Kebabs
- Ram Bhandar – Kachori Sabzi, Jalebi, Samosa, Cutlet
Shopping in Varanasi
Varanasi is an amazing place to buy souvenirs for yourself and your loved ones. There are several local markets in the city from where you can buy religious artifacts, silk and woolen products, antique jewelry, and handicrafts. Here are some of the best markets in Varanasi where you can enjoy shopping during your visit.
- Thatheri Bazar - Brass product, antiques, copper products, and religious artifacts
- Vishwanath Lane - Designer bangles, wooden toys, and décor items and dupattas
- Godowlia Market - Items of clothing and décor items
- Golghar - Designer and trendy footwear, clothing, and home decor items
- Rajan Silk Market - Banarasi Sarees, suit, and dupattas
- Lahurabir - Clothing, house décor items, home appliances, and jewelry
- Banaras Art Gallery - Tribal Statues, Contemporary statues, paintings, both old and contemporary, and Bronze statues
Useful tips for a trip to Varanasi
- Make sure you will go for a boat ride in the Ganges River in the evening.
- Keep your valuables safe.
- Do not take photos of the cremation Ghats.
- Carry medical kit, prescribed, and essential medicines.
- Do not forget to carry important documents including tickets, cash, and photo ID proof.
- Book your accommodation in advance to save yourself from last-minute hassles.
- Wear comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes during the Varanasi tour.
- Cover your head and shoulders while visiting religious places.
- Try local cuisines and learn about their culture.
How to reach Varanasi?
The holy city of Varanasi is well-connected with the rest of the country by air, rail, and road network. Banaras has its own airport namely Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport, which is an international airport located at Babatpur, 26 km away. There are regular flights from all the major cities and countries that fly to this city regularly.
There are two major railway stations that serve Varanasi namely Mughal Sarai Junction and Varanasi Junction, situated at 18 km and 2 km respectively. Both the stations are well-linked with the prime cities of the country via an extensive rail network. Varanasi enjoy excellent road connectivity with cities like Allahabad, Lucknow, Patna, Gorakhpur, and Ranchi. A number of air-conditioned luxury buses and ordinary buses ply frequently from the nearby cities and towns.
How to get around in Varanasi?
To travel within Varanasi, cycle rickshaws and auto-rickshaws are available. Mini-buses are also available within the city. You can also hire a cab or taxi to travel within the city. Some lanes and alleys of the city are too narrow and you can only walk in these lanes. Boat rides are the best way to get glimpses of the enchanting beauty of the Ganges River.