10 Best things to do in Varanasi, India
Varanasi is a MUST on your list, because it is all the chaos and love of India in one place. Besides being the cultural capital of India, it is the most shocking place on earth that you can visit. Bold but true; every two seconds, your eye can catch something new and exciting. When in Varanasi, you can really feel the holiness of the place (even if you are not a Hindu). The Gange River is a magical place, full of history, meanings, symbols, culture and religion. But, there are some things to do in Varanasi you should absolutely not miss, when in Varanasi. You can also visit the nearby ancient city of Sarnath, which is also a holy place of pilgrimage. Other things to do in Varanasi include the intriguing Archaeological Museum, the Ramnagar Fort and the Yoga Education Training Society.
You can also visit the nearby ancient city of Sarnath, which is also a holy place of pilgrimage. Other things to do in Varanasi include the intriguing Archaeological Museum, the Ramnagar Fort and the Yoga Education Training Society.
1. Do not miss the Ganga Aarti
Image Source: Arian Zwegers/Flickr
Ganga aarti is performed in the evening. That is when it dawn on you the significance of this river, the hearts of billion people. This is the place where science and religion come to an end, where human emotion and beliefs are supreme. When you see this magnificent river, you realize that the river truly has a soul of its own. The sight of thousands of people coming here to offer their prayers, bow their heads and offer respects, perform pujas and float candles in small cups is mesmerizing. The emotions on their faces and their firm belief that this is the purest river on earth that washes all sins despite being one of the most polluted river body would leave you speechless.
2. Explore Varanasi on foot
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
The narrow lanes crowded with cows, bulls, speeding bicycles is a fantastic experience. One has to watch their steps as these galis are dotted with cow dung and sleeping dogs. But one look at the old buildings and you are drawn to its culture and tradition. The culture and religion come alive in these picturesque lanes. It is an adventure plus a lifetime opportunity with a terrific photo chance to passage down these ancient alleys of history.
All the galis either run towards or parallel to the ghats, thus you can never be lost in this gripping city. And even if you are, the people here are more than happy to help you guide towards your destination. And what is Varanasi or Banaras or Kashi if not guide you back to your Maker.
3. Taking a boat ride watching sunset/ sunrise
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
A dawn rowing boat ride along the Ganges is an essential Varanasi experience. The early-morning light is particularly inspiring, and all the colour and clamour of pilgrims bathing and performing puja unfolds before you. Sadly, the river is perhaps the most polluted in the world and the surroundings leave a lot to be desired for, still you would be amazed to see how the river draws you towards it. You may take a boat ride to take you from one ghat to another - each with its own history and myth. Bargain hard, people here dont fool or cheat unless its business.
4. Shopping in Varanasi
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
The silk saris of Banaras are known the world over and are priceless family heirlooms, handed down from mother to daughter. In earlier days, these were made of weaving gold & silver. Not anymore. The exquisite designs and colour combinations are lighter and vibrant as ever.
Besides Banarasi saris and brocades, you may look for wonderful pieces of brassware, ornate jewels, copperware, wooden and clay toys and antique designs of heavy gold jewellery in Varanasi. However, beware of cheaply available imitation saris which can be very difficult to distinguish from the real ones.
5. Do not miss the tasty street food
Image Source: Patrick Barry/Flickr
Varanasi is not just the city of temples but it is a foodies paradise. Banarsi food is as mouthwatering as the place is exciting. These guys have perfected the skill of paan making into an art. The lassi here are not to be missed, there are countless flavours, from something as odd as coconut banana and others that which you cannot imagine with a cup of yogurt. But redefining all known principle of taste and fusion, each flavor debates the other to emerge utterly unique and delicious. Also, do not miss the thandaai (with a little bhang if you can stand the hangover).
6. Visit the local bookstore
Image Source: Amir Yalon/Flickr
Mainly for the bookworms, this city has unique old-fashioned little bookstores, which are ideal if you fancy a good read about topics as the social sciences, philosophy, fiction, politics or history. The seating here is perfect to get over a creative block. Sit down with a cup of kulhad tea and pick up some pocket books. The pleasure derived out of reading in the open at the sundown, besides Ganga flowing, Dias floating, and unlimited sky and space around you, is unparalleled.
7. Archeological museum of Sarnath
Image Source: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr
Approx 10 kms away from Varanasi lies the oldest site museum of the Archeological survey of India. Located right next to the excavated site, this museum has over five galleries and sculptures, artifacts dated from the 3rd Century BC to the 12th Century AD.
Right across the main hall is Shakyasimha gallery. Here, you can find most special pieces in the museum sandstone Lion Capital of the Mauryan Pillar, which became the national emblem of India. The sites like the Tree where Buddha attained nirvana, the first sermon to his 5 disciples are all fascinating even to a non Buddhist.
8. Panaromic view from Malviya Bridge
Image Source: Wikipedia.org
Bridging two cities from ages - Varanasi and Mughalsarai, Malviya bridge offers panoramic view of the Banaras Ghats. More than 1000 meters long this Double Decker bridge, gives the opportunity to see all the way to the other side on a clear day. But even otherwise it gives you a very different perspective of the holy city providing with a birds eye view. The bridge is under surveillance throughout the day and hence not advisable to spend more time without a purpose, but you wont be bothered if you take a few pictures.
9. See striking graffiti on the walls
Image Source: VasenkaPhotography/Flickr
The walls of Banaras have unique stories to tell. The numerous Graffiti on the walls of Varanasi Ghats are unique and thought provoking. If you look closely, there are so many interesting graffiti adorning the walls, most of them out of place, yet attractive. There is also religious or mythology based graffiti, you will find Ganapati, Shiva in various avatars, shocking colours yet intriguing. You will find some abstract ones, with random words and letters scribbled as a challenge for a passerby to be deciphered. The opportunities for a photographer are almost endless.
10. Hang out with Sadhus
Image Source: Lyle Vincent/Flickr
The sadhus you will encounter here befit the aura of the city. Their isolation from anything worldly seemed to be contradicted by their need for companionship with each other and for ganja. They have numerous stories to share from about the heavens, Shiva's city, and other supernatural phenomenon. Most of them are very friendly and will allow you to photograph them (sometimes for a minimum charge), but remember not every bearded man is a Sadhu. Dont get too inspired by sadhus and take shelter in their feet.
Banaras has lived since ancient ages and is still living on. People come here for all different reasons. Find your reason to visit. I can go on and on, but lets leave the rest to be lived than to be read here.
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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Varanasi, India
Must see places in Varanasi ranked on popularity. Here is the complete list of best attractions in Varanasi and point of interests to visit.
#1 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Dharmpal Rd, 10 Km North of Varanasi, Varanasi, India
An old Buddhist story tells us the Bodhisattva is a deer and offers his life to the king. The king was planning to kill the doe for his feast. He was so moved that he created a park as a sanctuary for...Read more
#2 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Varanasi U.P 221001
The sound of the conch is a call for prayers. Come to the Dasaswamedh Ghat to rejoice in the Agni Puja. Young priests in saffron coloured dhotis starts the aarti by chanting mantras and songs. They li...Read more
#3 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001
Feel close to God when you are in a temple. Feel blessed to be there and carry this closeness when you return home to your everyday life. Your presence at the temple will give you a clearer sense of p...Read more
#4 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: K-32/22 Bharonath, Vishweshwarganj, Varanasi.
Come out of your worldly difficulties. Your mind is heavy with problems which is crucial. Who can you share them with? Where can you find peace? You cannot think or see clearly at home and you need at...Read more
#5 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: D, 32/162, Devnathpura, Bengalitola, Varanasi 221001
You can’t touch your toes? You are not flexible? You are not strong or patient? It does not matter. Everyone starts somewhere. Give yoga a try and control your breathing, move your body and find...Read more
#6 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Varanasi, U.P., India
Manikarnika Ghat is the main cremation Ghat of Varanasi. Manikarnika Ghat is one of the oldest and most sacred Ghats in Benaras. According to the Hindu mythology, being burned here provides an instant...Read more
#7 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Varanasi, U.P
It was a joyous moment for Goddess Durga. She triumphantly killed the demon Shumba-Nishumba. And to mark her victory she threw her sword in the Assi River. The place where the sword fell resulted in a...Read more
#8 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Ramnagar Road, Samne Ghat Chaumuhari, Varanasi
The Durga temple was constructed in the 18th century by a Bengali Maharani but in a North Indian style. The temple has a rectangular tank of water called the Durga Kund meaning a pond or pool. The pon...Read more
#9 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Near Vyas Mandir, Ram Nagar, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001
The Ram Nagar Fort bears brilliant testimony of a civilisation that disappeared. The Moghul Empire. The building was constructed with creamy coloured chunar sandstone. It was built in typical Mughal s...Read more
#10 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth Campus, Varanasi 221002
The Bharat Mata Temple was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936. This is the only temple dedicated to Mother India and is within the campus of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi...Read more
#11 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Lalita Ghat Varanasi
Nepali architecture is a unique strain of art and pragmatism. Nepal is situated in between trade routes from India to Tibet and China. Therefore Nepali architecture has been influenced by these cultur...Read more
#12 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Sarnath, Near Sangharama Monastery, Varanasi
Buddha delivered his first sermon in 528 BC at Sarnath which now has a museum dedicated to him. There is an excellent display of artefacts from the Maurayan era and Gupta era. The earliest image of Bu...Read more
#13 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: D 33/81, Khalishpura, Varanasi Uttar Pradesh 221001
Discover more about receiving the fine art of music as a gift. Listen to tabla player Shri Keshava Rao Nayak, and santoor player Sri Shivaji Rao Nayak Kevale. Enrol in music lessons which include the ...Read more
#14 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Varanasi Uttar Pradesh
A man bound by duty, resilience, and honesty, a king in more ways than one. Such a man was King Harishchandra. He was the 36th king of the Solar system. His fable is very popular and taken as a yardst...Read more
#15 of 69 Things To Do in Varanasi
Address: Varanasi, India
Inspiring and tranquil, a wonderful combination for nirvana. Let spirituality lure you to Panchganga Ghat where the rivulets Dhutapapa and Kirana join the mythical confluence of the Yamuna, Sarasvati ...Read more
Tourist Attractions Near Varanasi
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Types of Things To Do in Varanasi
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Top Varanasi Activities And Tours
Explore the best things to do in Varanasi. These are the most preferred tourist activities.
Save 7%One Day Varanasi and Sarnath Tour with Boat Ride New on TripHobo
Duration: 1 Days
Experience a one day varanasi tour with Sarnath and take a boat ride on the silent water of Ganges in Varanasi. Observe ...
Save 8%Tour Ancient Varansi by E-Rickshaw New on TripHobo
Duration: 3 Hrs
Varanasi, one of the oldest inhabited cities of the world prides itself with a recorded history of over 5000 years. Take a to...
Save 7%Boat Ride along the Ghats of Varanasi Reliving the Journey of Life New on TripHobo
Duration: 4 Hrs
Varanasi is the city of Lord Shiva and the sacred river Ganges. One of the oldest living cities, Varanasi brims with history ...
Save 7%2-Days Private Tour of Varanasi Including Sarnath and Boat Ride New on TripHobo
Duration: 2 Days
Varanasi - also known as Kashi (City of Life) and Benares, the spiritual capital of India. It's a particularly auspicious pla...
What To Do in Varanasi: Day-Wise Ideas
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