Varanasi Tourism

Steady yourself. You're about to enter one of the most strikingly colourful, inexorably chaotic place on earth. It’s a magical place, but it's not for the faint-hearted. It may turn out to be your favourite spot to visit. And you will come back for more! It’s a road trip favourite.

Varanasi also known as, Benares, is an Indian city on the banks of the Ganga in Uttar Pradesh. It is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism, and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Varanasi is also known as the favourite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva.

The Maharaja of Kashi is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi, and an essential part of all religious celebrations. The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the Ganges. The city has been a cultural centre of North India for several thousand years. It has a history that is older than most of the major world religions. The Benares Gharana form of Hindustani classical music was developed in Varanasi. Many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians live or have lived in Varanasi. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath, located near Varanasi. Pilgrims come to the Ghats lining the River Ganges here to wash away a lifetime of sins. This is done by taking a dip in the sacred waters or to cremate their loved ones. It's a particularly auspicious place to die, since expiring here offers moksha. Moksha is liberation from the cycle of birth and death. This makes Varanasi the beating heart of the Hindu universe.

Most visitors are NOT on casual vacation or weekend getaway. Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India. This holy and religious city attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. It is also the city of learning and scholarly books have been written about Varanasi. The current temples and religious institutions in the city are dated to the 18th century. One of the largest residential universities of Asia, the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), is located here.

There is a labyrinth of alleys called galis that are too narrow for traffic. They can be disorienting, but the popular hotels and restaurants are found there. However lost you become, you will eventually end up at a ghat and get your bearings. Most places of interest, and much of the accommodation, are in the old city.

Essential travel information and Varanasi tips for your visit

  • A boat ride along the Ganges River is one of the absolute must.
  • Negotiate the price because boats are in high demand.
  • Visit any of the Ghats. They have diverse culture behind them and are used for different reasons.
  • See Varanasi from above. Use the terrace of a hotel or a balcony especially to view the burning Ghats.
  • Exploring the side streets. They are narrow and winding but you will not get lost.
  • Experiencing Varanasi during a festival. Thousands of worshippers in orange flood the street of Varanasi.
  • Be firm with beggars and people trying to cheat you. Ask for help from the police if you have to.
  • Get a guide if needed.
  • Don’t take pictures in the burning Ghats, people will get offended.
  • Take care in the dark, there is insufficient light and the roads are uneven.

The best tours and activities in the city, guided by experts to give you a local insight to the best of Varanasi

  • Know the pollution level of Varanasi before you plan your visit.

    • Air Pollution 82.21 (Very High)
    • Water Pollution 70.65 (High)
    • Noise and Light Pollution 58.85 (Moderate)
    • Unattended dirt and garbage 81.25 (Very High)
    • Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 67.19 (High)
    • Dissatisfaction with Garbage Disposal 79.89 (High)
    • Dissatisfaction to Spend Time in the City 76.5 (High)
    • Dissatisfaction with Green zones and parks 72.78 (High)
  • How safe is Varanasi for tourists? Understand risks and safety concerns that can hamper your travel experience in Varanasi.

    • Burglary and Theft 41.77 (Moderate)
    • Mugging and Robbery 29.27 (Low)
    • Assault and Armed Robbery 38.2 (Low)
    • Corruption and Bribery 63.46 (High)
    • Car Stealing 27.48 (Low)
    • Robbery of Car belongings 41.77 (Moderate)
    • Attacks 36.41 (Low)
    • Drug offense 40.38 (Moderate)
    • Safety walking alone during daylight 80.65 (Very High)
    • Safety walking alone during night 60.65 (High)
    • Insulting and offensive behaviour 28.57 (Low)
    • Hate crime due to Racism, Religion, ethnic origin 19.23 (Very Low)
    • Property crimes and Vandalism 48.91 (Moderate)
    • Safety Index 62.15 (High)
    • Climate Index 53.92 (Moderate)
    • Pollution Index 89.44 (Very High)
    • Traffic Commute Time Index 98 (Very High)
    • Health Care Index 81.94 (Very High)
    • Property Price to Income Ratio 6.45 (Low)
    • Indices such as Quality of life, Climate & Healthcare index are good to be high whereas others such as Property price, Traffic & Cost of living Index are good to be low.

  • Here's how much it will cost to shop in Varanasi

    • Local calling per minute on Prepaid mobile 0.01 USD
    • International Movie per seat 3.09 USD
    • Summer clothing in a chain store 37.54 USD
    • Pair of Basic Nike Shoes 35.08 USD
    • Pair of Basic Levis Jeans 34.44 USD

*Stats and figures mentioned are crowd-sourced ‚Äčand subjected to change without notice.

* Some of the data on this page is powered by Numbeo