Varanasi

Popular across the world as the oldest city, the city of Varanasi lies in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The city embarks the historical values of the entire country and houses some of the oldest temples in the world. The other names by which the city has been known in the past includes the name of Banaras, Benaras or Kashi. For the Hindus a dip in the banks of river Ganga and visiting this holy city is among the most desired pilgrimage for centuries. Being here and checking out the sunrise as well as the sunset from the bank of River Ganga while wandering across the century old temples is certainly a great experience. It has been counted among the popular destinations to visit in north India and sees hosts of both national and international tourist visiting this holy city.

varanasi
Varanasi

Not only for the Hindus but the city is regarded as a holy place for both the Buddhist and the Jain communities. It truly lives to its name of being the cultural as well as religious capital of India for centuries. Various terminologies have been coined in the past to define the city, where some of the popular names include: City of Lights, City of Learning, and Oldest Living City in the World. Looking back in history one would learn that the city besides being of historical importance was also the trade centre about two thousand years ago. Commodities such as muslin, silk, perfumes, sculptures were sold in the historic times.

Interesting Facts about Varanasi

  • It is believed by the Hindus that once a person dies on this holy land his/her soul is destined to go to heaven.
  • It is a popular destination for the west as well. Each year the city witnesses thousands of tourists from abroad.
  • The river banks presents various monks as well as gurus who often perform rituals and meditations
  • Do ensure you buy Banarsi Silk Sari when in the city. Each year thousands of saris are exported to various countries across the world.
  • Sweets are another speciality at this place and you are recommended to try some local delights.
  • It is estimated that over 60,000 people take a dip in the holy waters of the river Ganges every day.
  • Varanasi being one of the oldest cities houses very old buildings and deep lanes which are often termed as the wonders of this place. The lanes even though small are the lifeline to travel from one place to another for the locals.

varanasi1

Varanasi’s Location

The city of Varanasi is about 320 kilometres from Lucknow which is the State Capital. Varanasi is well connected with the other parts of the country and is on the western edge of the state of Uttar Pradesh. The distance from some of the popular cities in our country have been listed below:

City Distance
Allahabad 125kms.
Lucknow 320kms.
Patna 235kms.
Delhi 780kms.
Kolkata 680kms.
Indore 960kms.
Jabalpur 466kms.
Mumbai 1593kms.

Languages Spoken

  • Bhojpuri
  • Hindi
  • English

How to Reach Varanasi?

Reaching by Air

The nearest airport for reaching Varanasi is at 25 kilometres from the main city. There are daily flights from some of the major carriers from the capital and other major cities of the country. Hiring a Taxi from the airport can be the best option to travel to the main city which is about an hour away from the airport. Prices for one way travel vary from Rs.600 to Rs.700 depending on the vehicle and bargain.

Reaching by Train

Railways are the best connectivity options to this holy city. The Varanasi Junction and Mughal Sarai Junction are the two popular rail heads which provide access to the city. While Mughal Sarai Junction is about 15 kilometres from the city the Varanasi Junction is situated within the centre of the city.

Reaching by Road

National High 7 is the road that passes beside Varanasi and is great when it comes to travel to Varanasi via road. Busses ply from major cities in Uttar Pradesh, while there are long distance buses which are available as well. The ride is smooth and people may drive themselves to the city if possible.

Diwali at Varanasi
Diwali at Varanasi

Best time to visit Varanasi

Visiting Varanasi during the summers can be a bad option. Also the rainy season can be a very bad idea to be in the city. The best months to be here are from October to early early April. Winters are quite chilly where temperatures at night drop drastically. Diwali or Shivratri are the two festivals when the city is at its best. So if you wish to witness the true colours of the city, it would be advised to be there at any of these festivals.

Recommended stay in Varanasi

For many, it could be months to stay and explore the holiness within the city. However, for the travellers who wish to be here and explore the city the recommended time would be at least 4 Days and 3 nights.

Travel Around Varanasi

The city being small can be explored well in detail, however there is much to explore within. The popular mode of local transportation to travel within the city are the Rickshaws and the Autorickshaws. Besides being convenient they are definitely light on budget against hiring dedicated taxis. For visiting the Ghats and exploring the temples on the banks of the river Ganges the best form of transport is your foot itself. Moreover, travelling over the river through the boats can be a great experience as well.

Sandhya Aarti At Varanasi
Sandhya Aarti At Varanasi

For the 1st time travellers or people not so well versed with the local language an ideal thing to do would be walking inside a local book store and buying one city guide. One of the popular activity or ritual especially for the Hindus is taking bath in the holy waters of the river Ganges. With great number of Ghats the city has ample opportunities for people to take a dip. It is recommended to take a boat rides during the early hours of the day or at the time of sunset. The evening aarti on the banks of Dasaswamedh Ghat or the sight of watching the cremation progress on the Manikarnika Ghat is one of the popular attractions in the city.

The recent years has seen several development within the city but it still carries its ancient charm from centuries. Traveling across the city would certainly give a different feel and surely reflect the age of this particular city. Roaming within the city can be a bit difficult due to its congested and small roads, besides lack of proper infrastructure within the city.

Attractions in Varanasi

  • The River Ganga: Flowing directly from the Himalayas, Ganges is one of the most sacred rivers in India. Though being worshipped at every place it flows from, the Ghats along the river Ganga in Varanasi has its own charm. The river flows for an entire distance of 7 kilometres within the city. Visitors walking on the ghats near the river banks might sight the Ganges Dolphin. Taking a boat ride along the river could provide great sights at the numerous ghats within the city.
  • Kashi Vishwanath Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is regarded as one of the most popular temples within the country. It houses 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and witnesses lakhs of devotees every year from across the globe.

    Kashi Vishwanath Temple
    Kashi Vishwanath Temple
  • Ramnagar Fort and Museum: This fort dates back to the early 17th century and is just besides the eastern banks of the river Ganges. Visitors can spend their time by strolling inside the fort; also the sunset is a spectacular site from the place as well. It houses a museum which presents the vintage American cars, old weapons, the famous astrological clock, and many elements from the past eras.

    Ramnagar Fort and Museum
    Ramnagar Fort and Museum
  • Durga Temple: This temple was built in the 18th century and is dedicated to Goddess Durga. It is believed that a Bengali Maharani in that era built the temple which is coloured by the use of ochre.
  • Gyan Kupor Well: It has been centuries since people believe that drinking water of this well could lead to a higher spiritual plane. However, none of the visitors are allowed to drink water from the well.
  • Astronomical Observatory: Dating back to the early 16th century this amazing observatory was built by Maan Singh. Over the years with additions and modifications this place houses a great observatory unit as a whole.
  • Tulsi Manas Temple: It is popular for its shikara styled architecture where the walls have been engraved with the scenes as well as the verses from the Ram Charitra Manas (Ramayana).
  • Benaras Hindu University: One of the largest Universities in the country, BHU was established in the year 1916. Besides being a University where students are offered numerous courses it is a popular attraction for both the locals and the visitors.
  • The Ghats: Known to be the essence and life of the city, there are loads of things to see and witness around the ghats which are on the edges of the river Ganges. Probably the best time to be at any of the ghats would be the dawn when most of the pilgrims offer pujas. A recommended boat ride from the Dassaswameth Ghat to the Harishchadra Ghat offers a great view of the city from outside.
    Dassaswameth Ghat
    Dassaswameth Ghat

    The markets along the Ghats offer range of traditional stuff which people can buy. Each Ghat has its own significance such as Harishchandra Ghat is famous for being a place for cremations; Kedar Ghat is famous for the shrine which is popular especially among Bengalis and South Indians. If you wish to take some beautiful pictures then the Meer Ghat is a recommended place to be at.

    Ghats
    Ghats
  • The lanes within: Surprisingly the city is very popular for the small lanes which run all across the city. The locals can travel from one place to the other from these smaller lanes which actually helps in saving a lot of time and avoiding the congestion on the main roads. It is an experience in its own to travel from some of these lanes as it makes you pass through the centuries old buildings and monuments which truly defines the city.

    Lanes of Varanasi
    Lanes of Varanasi
  • Sarnath: A popular place outside the city, Sarnath is a deer park and is famous for being the place where Lord Buddha taught Dharma. It is about 13 kilometres from the city and houses the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. It is a very sacred place of Pilgrimage for the Buddhist and numerous countries from across the globe have setup temples as well as monasteries in the region.

    Sarnath
    Sarnath

What’s in store for the Shoppers at Varanasi?

When it comes to Varanasi, it’s Benarasi Silk which should be on the list of every shopper. Especially the traditional Benarasi Saree is recommended buy for the ladies. There are several shops across the city and the best deals could be availed at any of the popular markets. Besides that most of the spiritual travellers buy different kinds of holy books, utensils made of brass, etc.

What and where to eat in Varanasi?

Food is another speciality of this city. It presents a wide range of delicacies for both the vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Especially the sweet which is offered in several styles is something worth trying when at Varanasi. It is recommended to eat at the main market area to enjoy the traditional Benarasi Cuisine.

Kachori Sabzi
Food in Varanasi

To name some of the dishes which deserves not to be missed are the aloo chat, paani puri, pan, tikia, Lassi, Rabri, and kachori sabzi (for your breakfast). If you are in the city during the summers then make sure to try the Langda Aam (a variety of mango) which is only found in this region. To top everything it is the Benarasi Paan which should not be missed by any of the visitors. It is something which has made the city world famous.

Benarsi Paan
Benarsi Paan
  • MadhurMilan for its Kachori Sabzi (Dasaswamedh Ghat Rd)
  • Kaashi Chaat Bhandar for paani puri, Tikkias, and dahi Vadas
  • Brown Bread Bakery for its cheese items, breads, cookies, and cakes (127 Tripura Bhairavi | Golden Temple, Varanasi, 09838888823)
  • Pizzeria Vaatika Café for its baked pizzas, (B 1/178 Assi Ghat, Varanasi 221005, 091-9838094111)
  • Lotus Lounge for its Tibetan Momos (Mansarovar Ghat)
  • Canton Restaurant for its Chinese, Korean as well as Continental Dishes (S-20/51A-5,THE MALL ROAD,HOTEL SURYA, Varanasi 221002, (542)-2508465/66)
  • Haifa Restaurant for its Middle Eastern food, (Bhelpura)
  • Apsara Restaurant for its Chinese, continental, Japanese, Israeli and Korean food, and the small rooftop area. (24/42 Ganga Mahal, (0542) 3258554)
  • Filocafe for the spectacular Roof Top view of the Ganges besides sumptuous food (The Terrace of Kautilya Society | D-20/21 Munshi Ghat, Varanasi 221001, +91-9839066788)
  • Blue Lassi for the special Lassi (Meer Ghat, Near Vishwanath Temple)

Where to stay in Varanasi?

Hotels above Rs.4000 in Varanasi

  • The Gateway Hotel Ganges: Nadesar Palace Grounds
  • Hotel Clarks: The Mall, Cantt
  • The HHI: C-21/3 Maldahiya
  • Hotel India: 59, Patel Nagar Cantt
  • Jukaso Ganges: CK-1/14, Patni Tola Chowk
  • Palace on Ganges: B-1/158, Assi Ghat

Hotels between Rs.2000 and Rs.4000

  • Hotel Buddha: C-26/35 Lahurabir
  • Nirvana Hotel: The Mall Road , Cantonment
  • Hotel OK International: D-47/188A | Ramapura, Luxa,
  • Hotel Padmini International: Sigra Mahmoor Ganj Road

Hotels below Rs.2000

  • Palace On Step: D – 21/11 Rana Mahal Ghat,
  • Hotel Varuna: 22 Gulab Bagh Sigra,
  • Hotel De Paris: 15 The Mall
  • The Golden Buddha: Sarangnath Colony, Sarnath

Post Author: Abhishek Gupta

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