The Ganges is considered the river of salvation, a symbol of the hope of the ancestors of present and future generations. Here rituals of life and death are performed right in front of passers-by.
Varanasi is a city with very strong energy, but it is known not only for its funeral pyres: there are many ancient temples. And here they make the finest silk and sew dresses, sarees and other handmade products from it.
Attractions in Varanasi: -
There is something to see in Varanasi. Most of the attractions here are religious. Dozens of temples are located throughout the city and its environs. There is also a sacred place for Buddhists nearby. Ghat Varanasi is one of the main attractions.
Sarnath: - One of the four main Buddhist sites is located in the suburbs of Varanasi. The first sermon of the Buddha took place in Sarnath after he attained enlightenment. According to legend, the first listeners of the Buddha were deer from a local reserve. They can still be found in Sarnath. After the death of Buddha, monasteries and stupas began to be erected here, today it is one of the most important world centers of Buddhism. In the XII century, Sarnath was raided by local Brahmins and Islamic conquerors, many buildings were destroyed. Now in a small area several stupas, Buddhist temples, and a museum have been preserved. All this can be seen in a few hours, walking on foot.
Manikarnika Ghat: - The most famous and ominous ghat of Varanasi Manikarnika, those same funeral pyres that burn on the banks of the Ganges for millennia. According to legend, the main fire from which fires are set on fire has been burning here for several thousand years. Manikarnika is not the most picturesque ghat and not the largest, but it is definitely the most famous open crematorium in the world. There are always many tourists who come to see the shocking sight of Europeans.
Assi ghat: - This ghat is the most popular among tourists, it is not as gloomy as Manikarnika, there are a huge number of guesthouses here, so most travelers stay there. Assi Ghat is the most southern, it is located at the confluence of the Assi River in the Ganges.
Ganga Aarti: - Aarti is a religious worship ceremony, a form of puja. Every evening after sunset, hundreds of tourists gather at Dashashwamedh Ghat to watch a vivid, colorful performance. Aarti is a ceremony of offering gifts to the gods, which uses sacred fire, rice, water, and flowers. The ceremony is conducted by the Brahmins - clergy, they use multi-tiered oil lamps, making circular motions towards the Ganges. The pujari (those who serve pujas) also sing mantras, beat the plates and ring the bells. You can watch the ceremony from the shore or from a boat.
Benaras Hindu University: - One of the most famous universities in India is located in the southern part of Varanasi. It is convenient to get to it from anywhere. This is a real campus, which is surrounded by a vast green area (the area of ??the town is about 5.5 sq. Km), on which, in addition to the university itself, there is an art museum and a temple.
Museums: - In Varanasi, you can find some pretty interesting museums and art galleries. As in most Indian museums, entrance to them is worth a mere penny, so everyone can afford to cultivate in Varanasi. Here is a list of the most interesting museums in the city.
Bharat Kala Bhavan museum
Archaeological Museum in Sarnath
Maharaja Banaras Vidya Mandir Museum
Ruchika Art Gallery
National Park: - Closest to Varanasi is the Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary National Park. There are waterfalls, jungle and wild animals on the territory of the park, but the most likely to meet monkeys here. During the rainy season, the waterfalls in the park are most full-flowing, but at this time there are many local tourists. It is recommended to go from Varanasi to the park only to the most devoted nature lovers.
Opening hours and visits: from 06:00 to 18:00.
Foods in Varanasi: -
Almost every hotel and guesthouse have its own restaurant or at least a small cafe. The more expensive the hotel, the greater the choice and the higher the chances of getting not only Indian but also Italian, Nepalese and Japanese dishes. The most expensive restaurants, where there is almost any food, are in five-star hotels; You do not have to live there, you can just come for dinner or lunch.
The most popular dishes in local eateries are thali (rice and stewed lentils with spices and vegetable sauces), fried rice, paneer in different variations, noodles, chicken in sauce, Indian pizza and pasta, dosa (a large pancake made from rice flour) and All deep-fried.
Shopping in Varanasi: -
The city of Varanasi is famous for its finest silk. It is sold everywhere: in markets, in small silk shops in the Old Town and in souvenir shops. There are a lot of fraudsters in the silk business, so do not trust the barkers and rickshaw drivers who “definitely know the best store”. This applies not only to private stores but also to state ones - there are no guarantees, there are few places also, where you cannot run into a fake. The store is in a small side street on the banks of the Ganges River, within walking distance from the train station.
In the markets and shops of Varanasi, you can buy musical instruments also - sitar (string instrument) and tabs (Indian drums). The cheapest are made of mango wood, but the best are those made of teak and jaisar.
There are many street markets in the city, literally, everything is sold there, from fresh watermelons and mangoes to ritual flowers and water containers from the sacred Ganges River. There are a lot of silk products and jewelry in the markets of the Old Town, but authenticity is always a big question - there are a lot of fakes. Here you can also buy copper jewelry and utensils, handmade carpets and local oil-based perfumes. Fragrances, of course, are not for everybody, but if you are lucky to find your own, this is a success, as they are very persistent.
Best Time to Visit Varanasi: -
The most comfortable period for traveling in Varanasi lasts from October to March. It’s rather cool in the calendar winter, so warm things will be needed. But there is no sweltering heat, which lasts from April to September. The probability of rain during the tourist season is minimal.
How to Reach Varanasi: -
By Air:- Nearest airport is Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport, located in Babatpur, at 18km distance from the main city of Varanasi. This airport has been well connected to major cities by air with numerous flights.
By Train:- If you want to visit not only Varanasi but also other cities in India, choose a trip by rail. High-speed trains from Delhi and Calcutta arrive at Mughal Serai Station, 12 km southeast of Varanasi.
By Road:- Two shuttle buses a day come from Khajuraho and one from Bodh Gaya. The Varanasi bus station is located a few hundred meters from the Varanasi Cantonment main railway station.