Have you ever been to a place that's so chaotic yet so mesmerizing, where cows roam freely on the streets and people take a dip in the holy river every morning? Well, let me introduce you to Varanasi, the city that never sleeps and always surprises.

Picture this: you are walking down the narrow alleys of Varanasi, and suddenly, a cow blocks your way. You try to go around it, but then another one appears. Just when you think you're trapped, a group of monkeys start playing around your head. Yes, that's how unpredictable Varanasi can be.

But don't let the chaos discourage you because Varanasi has so much to offer. From its ghats (riverfront steps) along the Ganges River to its iconic temples like the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi is a cultural and spiritual hub of India.

The city has something for everyone - history buffs can explore ancient ruins like Sarnath, foodies can indulge in mouth-watering street food like chaat, and shopaholics can get lost in the colorful bazaars selling everything from silk sarees to intricate handicrafts.

So next time someone asks you where to go for an authentic Indian experience, tell them about Varanasi. But be prepared for some unexpected adventures along the way!

Table of Contents

History and Culture of Varanasi

Varanasi, also known as Banaras or Kashi, is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with a history that dates back to 11th century BC. The city is famous for its ghats (riverfront steps leading to the banks of the river Ganges), which are used for bathing and performing religious rituals.

Legend has it that Varanasi was founded by Lord Shiva himself, making it a holy city for Hindus. The city has been a center for learning and culture for centuries, with many great scholars and poets calling it their home. It is said that Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon in Varanasi.

These days, Varanasi is a bustling metropolis with a vibrant street life and a rich cultural heritage. The city is famous for its silk sarees, paan (a chewable mixture of betel leaf and areca nut), and street food such as chaat (a savory snack) and litti chokha (a traditional dish made from roasted gram flour balls).

Every year, millions of people visit Varanasi to take part in various religious ceremonies and festivals such as Diwali, Holi, and Durga Puja. The city also hosts several classical music and dance festivals throughout the year.

Despite its ancient roots, Varanasi has embraced modernity with open arms. The city has several world-class educational institutions, including Banaras Hindu University, which was founded in 1916.

Overall, Varanasi is a unique blend of old-world charm and modernity that will leave you spellbound. So why not plan a trip to this fascinating city today?

How to Reach and getting around Varanasi

Varanasi, also known as Kashi, is a city in northern India that is steeped in history and spirituality. It is a popular destination for pilgrims and tourists alike, and there are several ways to reach this ancient city.

By Air: The easiest way to reach Varanasi is by air. The city has its own airport, the Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, which is well-connected to major cities in India like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. From the airport, you can take a taxi or a bus to reach your destination.

By Train: Varanasi has two major railway stations - Varanasi Junction and Mughal Sarai Junction. These stations are well-connected to major cities in India like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bengaluru. There are several trains that run daily between these cities and Varanasi. You can book your train tickets online or at the railway station.

By Road: If you prefer travelling by road, you can take a bus or hire a taxi from nearby cities like Allahabad (125 km), Lucknow (320 km), or Patna (215 km). The roads are well-maintained and offer beautiful views of the countryside.

By Water: Another unique way to reach Varanasi is by water. You can take a boat ride on the Ganges River from nearby cities like Allahabad or Patna. This will give you a chance to experience the beauty of the river and see some of the famous ghats of Varanasi.

In conclusion, there are several ways to reach Varanasi - by air, train, road or water - depending on your convenience and budget. Whichever mode of transport you choose, make sure to plan your trip well in advance for a hassle-free journey.

Weather of Varanasi

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Varanasi, located in the northern part of India, experiences a typical subtropical climate. The summer season lasts from March to June and is extremely hot and humid with temperatures ranging between 32-45 degrees Celsius. Monsoon season starts from July to September bringing heavy rainfall and humidity, causing inconvenience to tourists. Winter season starts in November and lasts till February with temperature ranging from 5-15 degrees Celsius making it the best time to visit Varanasi.

The best time to visit Varanasi is during the winter season from November to February when the weather is pleasant with clear skies and cool breeze. During this time, the average temperature ranges from 5-15 degrees Celsius making it ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities. This is also the peak tourist season, therefore it's important to book your accommodation in advance.

The winter season in Varanasi offers a perfect opportunity to explore this ancient city's rich cultural heritage without being affected by extreme weather conditions. The city looks beautiful during this time as it gets enveloped with mist in the early morning hours, making sunrise boat rides on River Ganges an unforgettable experience.

In conclusion, if you are planning a trip to Varanasi, plan it during November-February as it’s the best time to visit this ancient city without being affected by extreme weather conditions.

Places to Visit in Varanasi

1. Kashi Vishwanath Temple The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is a prominent Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the most sacred and important pilgrimage sites in India. The temple has a rich history and is known for its beautiful architecture, intricate carvings, and stunning artwork.

2. Dashashwamedh Ghat Dashashwamedh Ghat is one of the most famous ghats in Varanasi. It is known for its vibrant evening aarti ceremony where devotees gather to offer prayers to the river Ganges. The ghat also offers a panoramic view of the river and the surrounding temples.

3. Sarnath Sarnath is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site located near Varanasi. It is believed that Lord Buddha gave his first sermon here after attaining enlightenment. The site has several ancient Buddhist structures including stupas, monasteries, and temples.

4. Manikarnika Ghat Manikarnika Ghat is considered to be one of the holiest ghats in Varanasi where Hindus perform cremation rituals for their departed loved ones. The ghat offers a unique insight into Hindu customs and traditions.

5. Ramnagar Fort Ramnagar Fort is an 18th-century fort located on the eastern bank of the river Ganges. It served as the residence of the Maharaja of Varanasi and houses a museum that displays a collection of vintage cars, weapons, and artifacts.

6. Assi Ghat Assi Ghat is a popular ghat in Varanasi located at the confluence of Assi river with the Ganges. It is known for its peaceful surroundings and serene atmosphere making it an ideal spot for meditation.

7. Tulsi Manas Temple Tulsi Manas Temple is dedicated to Lord Rama, one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. The temple has beautiful murals depicting scenes from Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic.

8. Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, textiles, manuscripts, and other artifacts representing Indian art and culture from ancient times to modern-day.

9. Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is one of India's premier universities located in Varanasi with sprawling grounds dotted with several notable buildings including Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, New Vishwanath Temple, etc.

10.Chunar Fort Chunar Fort situated on top of a hill overlooking the river Ganges was built by King Vikramaditya around 56 BC.It served as an important military base during medieval times due to its strategic location .It houses many ancient ruins ,palaces,temples etc within its walls making it an interesting place to explore.

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Religious Shrines
  • Varanasi
  • Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh
  • Vindhayachal
  • Heritage Places
  • Varanasi
  • Banaras Hindu University
  • Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh
  • Food Options and Local Cuisine of Varanasi

    Varanasi, also known as Kashi, is a city that offers a heavenly experience to food lovers. The local cuisine is a blend of various cultures and traditions. Some of the must-try dishes include:

    1. Kachori Sabzi: A popular breakfast dish made with crispy kachoris (deep-fried pastry) served with spicy potato curry.
    2. Lassi: A refreshing drink made with yogurt, milk, and sugar. Variations include flavored lassi like mango, strawberry, and rose.
    3. Malaiyo: A sweet delicacy made with milk froth, saffron, and dry fruits. It is only available during winters.

    Other famous dishes include Chaat, Tamatar Chaat, Samosa Chaat, Chowmein, Thandai (a milk-based drink with spices), and Banarasi Paan (a betel leaf stuffed with various fillings).

    Varanasi has plenty of dining options that cater to all budgets and preferences. Here are three recommended restaurants/cafes:

    1. Brown Bread Bakery: A cozy cafe that serves healthy breakfast options like smoothie bowls and avocado toast. They also have an extensive bakery menu.
    2. Blue Lassi Shop: A traditional lassi shop that has been serving delicious lassis for over 70 years. They offer more than 80 flavors of lassi.
    3. Baati Chokha: A rustic restaurant that serves traditional Bihari cuisine. Their signature dish is baati (a baked dough ball) served with chokha (a mashed vegetable dish).

    These dining options offer a unique culinary experience that should not be missed during your visit to Varanasi.

    Best areas for accommodation in Varanasi

    Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, is a city full of life and color. There are many areas to stay in Varanasi, each offering a unique experience. Here are the best areas for accommodation in Varanasi:

    • Assi Ghat: This area is located near the southern end of Varanasi and is famous for its beautiful ghats and temples. It's a great place to stay if you're looking for a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

    • Dasaswamedh Ghat: This area is located in the heart of Varanasi and is one of the most popular places to stay. It's close to all the major attractions, including the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, and has plenty of options for food and shopping.

    • Bhelupur: This area is located on the eastern side of Varanasi and offers a more local experience. It's a great place to stay if you want to immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of Varanasi.

    Here are three properties for accommodation in Varanasi:

    1. Taj Nadesar Palace (Luxury): This luxurious property is located on the banks of the Ganges River and offers stunning views of the river and city. The palace has been restored to its former glory and offers guests a truly royal experience.

    2. Hotel Alka (Budget): This budget-friendly hotel is located near Dasaswamedh Ghat and offers clean, comfortable rooms at an affordable price. The hotel also has a rooftop restaurant that serves delicious food with panoramic views of Varanasi.

    3. Stops Hostel Varanasi (Hostel): This hostel is located near Assi Ghat and offers dormitory-style accommodation at an affordable price. The hostel has a lively atmosphere with plenty of opportunities to meet fellow travelers from around the world.

    Overall, there are plenty of options for accommodation in Varanasi, whether you're looking for luxury or budget-friendly options. Each area offers a unique experience, so it's worth exploring different parts of the city before deciding where to stay.

    Shopping in Varanasi

    Varanasi, also known as Banaras, is a city located on the banks of the holy river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India. The city is famous for its ancient temples, music and dance traditions, and handloom sarees. Shopping in Varanasi is a unique experience that offers a blend of tradition and modernity. Here are some of the things you can buy, markets to visit, and what to avoid.

    Things to buy

    1. Banarasi sarees: These handloom sarees are made of fine silk and have intricate designs woven into them.
    2. Brassware: From lamps to showpieces, brassware items are popular souvenirs among tourists.
    3. Wooden toys: Varanasi is known for its wooden toys that are made by local artisans.
    4. Rudraksha beads: These beads are believed to have spiritual significance and are used for meditation.

    Markets to visit

    1. Vishwanath Gali: This market is located near the Kashi Vishwanath temple and offers a variety of items such as sarees, jewelry, and religious artifacts.
    2. Thatheri Bazaar: This market is famous for its brassware items and has been in existence since the 18th century.
    3. Godowlia Market: This market offers a range of products from clothes to electronics.

    What to avoid

    1. Street vendors selling fake products
    2. Touts who offer to take you on a tour of the city
    3. Overpriced goods in touristy areas
    4. Purchasing animal products made from endangered species such as ivory or tiger skin.

    In conclusion, shopping in Varanasi can be an enjoyable experience if you know what to look out for. The city's rich cultural heritage provides an opportunity for visitors to take home unique souvenirs that reflect the local traditions. So go ahead and explore the markets with caution!

    Nightlife in Varanasi

    Varanasi, also known as Banaras, is a city located on the banks of the river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the oldest and most sacred cities in India, famous for its ghats, temples, and culture. Apart from its spiritual significance, Varanasi is also popular for its vibrant nightlife. The city has numerous options for party lovers and night owls to explore.

    1. The Blue Lassi Shop: This iconic shop in Varanasi serves delicious lassi made with fresh fruits and herbs. It stays open until midnight and attracts a large crowd of locals and tourists alike.

    2. Brown Bread Bakery: A cozy cafe that serves freshly baked bread, cakes, coffee, and other snacks. The ambiance is perfect for spending a peaceful evening with friends or alone.

    3. Assi Ghat: This ghat is famous for its evening aarti ceremony that takes place every day at sunset. The ceremony involves chanting mantras and offering prayers to the river Ganges. It's a serene experience that gives you a glimpse into the spiritual side of Varanasi.

    Apart from these places, there are many other options like clubs, bars, rooftop cafes, street food stalls that stay open till late at night. One can indulge in local delicacies like chaat, samosas, litti-chokha while exploring the city's nightlife scene.

    In conclusion, Varanasi's nightlife may not be as flashy as Mumbai or Delhi but it has its charm with unique experiences to offer. From sipping lassi to attending an aarti ceremony or enjoying street food under the stars- there is something for everyone in this city that never sleeps!

    Outdoor Activities in Varanasi

    Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, is not just limited to religious tourism but also offers a plethora of outdoor activities for adventure enthusiasts. The city situated on the banks of river Ganges is surrounded by lush greenery and scenic landscapes that make it an ideal destination for outdoor activities.

    One of the most popular outdoor activities in Varanasi is River Rafting. The river Ganges offers a thrilling experience to rafters as they navigate through the rapids while enjoying the beautiful views along the banks. Another activity that attracts tourists is Trekking in the nearby hills which offers breathtaking views of Varanasi and its surroundings. The trekking trails are challenging but offer a unique experience to explore nature and witness some rare species of flora and fauna.

    Apart from these two activities, there are many other outdoor adventures that one can indulge in Varanasi such as Cycling tours, Boat Rides, Bird Watching, and Photography Tours. Cycling tours take you through the narrow alleys of Varanasi, offering an insight into local culture and traditions. Boat rides on the Ganges during sunrise or sunset are mesmerizing, witnessing thousands of devotees performing rituals on ghats. Bird watching is another activity that attracts nature lovers as the city has many species of birds such as kingfishers, egrets, cormorants, etc.

    In conclusion, Varanasi has a lot to offer for adventure enthusiasts who are looking for an escape from religious tourism. From River Rafting to Trekking to Cycling tours, there's something for everyone to enjoy amidst nature's beauty.

    Festivals and Events in Varanasi

    Festivals and events are an integral part of Varanasi's cultural heritage, and they are celebrated with great pomp and show. These events showcase the city's rich traditions, customs, and beliefs. Varanasi is known for its vibrant festivals, which attract visitors from all over the world. Some of the most popular festivals and events in Varanasi are:

    1. Mahashivratri (February/March): This festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Varanasi. Thousands of devotees take a dip in the holy Ganges river and offer prayers to Lord Shiva.

    2. Holi (March): Holi is one of the most colorful festivals in India, and it is celebrated with great fervor in Varanasi. The city comes alive with vibrant colors as people smear each other with colored powder.

    3. Ram Navami (April): This festival marks the birth of Lord Rama, one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. The festival is celebrated with grand processions and devotional songs.

    4. Buddha Purnima (May): This festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha. Buddhist monks perform rituals at various temples in Varanasi.

    5. Ganga Dussehra (June): This festival celebrates the descent of the Ganges river from heaven to earth. Devotees take a holy dip in the river on this auspicious day.

    6. Dev Deepawali (November/December): This festival is also known as "the festival of lights." The ghats along the Ganges river are illuminated with thousands of diyas (earthen lamps) on this day.

    Apart from these festivals, there are several other events that take place throughout the year in Varanasi, such as classical music concerts, cultural shows, and fairs. The city has something to offer for everyone who wants to experience its rich cultural heritage firsthand.

    Tips for Travelers while travelling to Varanasi

    1. Plan your visit during the off-season: Varanasi is a popular destination for tourists, especially during the months of October to March. If you want to avoid the crowds and high prices, consider visiting during the off-season between April and September. The weather may be hot and humid, but you'll have more opportunities to explore the city without feeling overwhelmed by the crowds.

    2. Respect local customs and traditions: Varanasi is a deeply religious city with many sacred sites and rituals. It's important to respect local customs and traditions, such as removing your shoes before entering temples or not taking photographs of people without their permission. Remember that you are a guest in this city and should behave accordingly.

    3. Be prepared for intense sensory experiences: Varanasi is a city that is rich in sights, sounds, and smells. You'll encounter everything from vibrant street markets to funeral processions along the riverfront. Be prepared for intense sensory experiences when traveling through the city.

    4. Stay safe when exploring at night: While Varanasi is generally considered safe for travelers, it's important to take precautions when exploring at night. Stick to well-lit areas and avoid walking alone if possible. If you're traveling with a group, make sure everyone stays together.

    5. Try local street food but be cautious: Varanasi is known for its delicious street food, including chaat (a spicy snack) and lassi (a yogurt drink). However, it's important to be cautious when trying new foods in India as they can cause stomach upset in some travelers. Stick to busy stalls with high turnover or ask locals for recommendations on where to eat.

    Overall, traveling to Varanasi can be an incredible experience filled with fascinating cultural events and stunning sights. By following these tips, you can ensure that your trip is enjoyable and memorable while also respecting local traditions and staying safe throughout your journey.


    What is Varanasi?

    Varanasi, also known as Banaras, is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is situated on the banks of the river Ganges and is considered to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.

    What are some popular tourist attractions in Varanasi?

    Some popular tourist attractions in Varanasi include the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Sarnath, Dashashwamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, and Assi Ghat.

    What is the best time to visit Varanasi?

    The best time to visit Varanasi is between October and March when the weather is pleasant. Summers can be extremely hot and humid while monsoons can cause flooding and disrupt travel plans.

    How do I get to Varanasi?

    Varanasi has its own airport which connects it to major cities in India such as Delhi and Mumbai. It also has a railway station which connects it to other parts of India. There are also several bus services that operate from nearby cities.

    What are some popular dishes in Varanasi?

    Some popular dishes in Varanasi include chaat (a savory snack), lassi (a yogurt-based drink), kachori (a fried pastry), and paan (a betel leaf preparation).

    Is it safe to travel alone in Varanasi?

    While traveling alone may pose some challenges, overall, Varanasi is considered safe for solo travelers. However, it's always advisable to take necessary precautions such as avoiding crowded areas at night.

    Can I take a boat ride on the Ganges river?

    Yes, boat rides on the Ganges river are a popular activity for tourists visiting Varanasi. They offer a unique perspective of the city and its ghats. However, it's important to choose a reputable operator and wear life jackets for safety reasons.

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