Incredible India: Travel to the spiritual capital of India – Varanasi (Banaras)

Image credits: Tour My India

Varanasi, also known as Banaras or Kashi, is one of the oldest living cities. Kashi as locals call it means The City of Lights is situated in Uttar Pradesh of India and is renowned for its spiritual culture. Enthralled by its sanctity, Mark Twain once said: “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together ”. Such is the magic of this place that a lot of people come here only to die. Further, we will explore the temples in Varanasi, places to visit in Varanasi and the best time to visit Varanasi.

While there is no denying that Varanasi is magical, but it’s certainly not for the faint hearts. Intimate rituals of life and death happen publicly, and therefore the sights, sounds and smells of the maze-like previous city – to not mention virtually constant attention from touts – are often intense. Still, this town of sunshine is one of the foremost interesting places on earth. Strolling the ghats or observance sunrise from a ship on the river square measure a highlight, and effort the truth and ritual of death are often strong expertise.

Holy River ‘Ganga’ is deeply associated with the city which makes people believe that death and cremation here will break the cycle of rebirth and help them attain Moksha(salvation). Apart from this, it is a beautiful city to visit and this ‘Land of Sanskriti’ is the best place where Indian mythology can be learned. This is the place where Buddha gave his first preaching and also from where the yoga originated. Willing to plan Varanasi trip? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered.

What is Varanasi famous for?

With years of History captured in the tales of beautiful ghats, Varanasi is a culturally rich city with modern thoughts meeting the traditional rituals in the buzzing streets. With over 2000 temples, Varanasi is the center of attraction for Hindu pilgrims who come to the city to offer their prayers and practice faith. Known as “galiyon ka sheher”, Varanasi is famed for hidden routes through thousands of streets where small businesses bloom. A city like no other, a home like no other, Banaras is where you might find the true meaning of life. Popular around the world for their fabric and regal prints, Banarasi sarees are the pure representation of Indian heritage. Not just famous for spiritual flair, Banaras has also been a center for educational, musical, and technical teachings for time immemorial. Varanasi has given birth to many renowned philosophers, poets, and musicians and continues to live up to its legacy. The birthplace of the Benaras Gharana form of Hindustani classical music, Varanasi is also where the famous Hindi- Urdu writer Premchand was born. Also home to Banaras Hindu University, Central Hindu School, Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth, and many top-class hospitals, the education in Varanasi is also top-notch. Exploring the spiritual capital of India, you will come across Indian handicrafts and small businesses that flourish at the sidelines of the River Ganga. Varanasi has to be on your travel list and if you have been to the beautiful city, you must visit again!

Things to do in Varanasi

  • Best time to visit Varanasi
  • Top places to visit in Banaras (Varanasi)
  • Things to do in Varanasi
  • Places to visit near Varanasi
  • How to travel to Varanasi?
  • Where to stay in Varanasi
  • Best places to shop in Varanasi

Best time to visit Varanasi?

Best time to visit Varanasi
October to February end

The best time to visit Banaras (Varanasi) is the winters. You can opt to go forward from mid of October to February end. The temperature starts to come down after November and it’s quite calm and breezy throughout the course of the day. Avoid having a Varanasi trip during summer as Varanasi witnesses high and dry temperatures.

Best places to visit in Banaras (Varanasi)

Things to do in Varanasi. Best places to visit in Banaras
Things to do in Varanasi: Best places to visit in Banaras

Starting with the Temples for the city of Temples and Ghats:

Must Visit Temples in Varanasi (Banaras)

  1. Kaal Bhairav Mandir
  2. Shree Kashi Vishwanath Mandir
  3. Sankat Mochan Mandir
  4. Tilbhandeshwar Mahadev Mandir
  5. Vishwanath Temple BHU

Here are some other temples you must visit:

  1. Bharat Mata Mandir
  2. Tulsi Manas Mandir
  3. Batuk Bhairav Mandir
  4. Mata Annapurna Mandir
  5. Kashi Karvat

1. Kaal Bhairav Mandir

Intertwined in legends is the ever-fascinating Kaal Bhairav Mandir which is one of the oldest Shiva temples in Varanasi, older than History itself. The temple is of Bhairava, a fierce form of Shiva and the word “Kaal” means both death and time. Kaal Bhairav mandir has significant religious importance and is known as “Kashi ke Kotwal”. It is believed that a person has to visit the temple and take his permission to live in Banaras. It is a religious belief to visit Kaal Bhairav before going to Kashi Vishwanath Mandir.

2. Shree Kashi Vishwanath Mandir

The most famous temple in Varanasi and the most renowned temple of Lord Shiva in the country, Kashi Vishwanath Mandir is located in Vishwanath Gali of Varanasi. Kashi Vishwanath is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The Mandir has great architecture and is most popular among tourists and everyone. With religious shops and garlands shops surrounding the corridor, the new Kashi Vishwanath corridor is surreal and you would be missing a lot if you don’t visit this cultural and sacred masterpiece. With aartis and the magnificent shringar of Lord Shiva, this Mandir is exquisite and a must-visit for all.

places to visit in Varanasi Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Image Credits: Newsstate.com

3. Sankat Mochan Mandir

Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman and is one of the most famous temples in Varanasi. The temple was established by Tulsi das in the 16th century. According to legends, the temple has been built at the same spot where God Hanuman gave his darshan to Tulsidas. Every Tuesday and Saturday, thousands of people visit the temple to offer their prayers. The Mandir is set up in a completely different environment and you can feel the presence of superior power. You can take chakras around the main temple and you can write “Ram” on the metal frames with Chandan. The Mandir is surrounded by various shops and you can buy something to take with you.

Top places to visit in Varanasi Temples in Varanasi: Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple. Image Credits: wikimedia.org
  • Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple: Founded by the famous preacher “Saint Tulsidas”. You will find lots of monkeys in and around the temple. Also, the offering which is basically the Laddoo is quiet famous among all.
  • 4. Tilbhandeshwar Mahadev Mandir

    Believed to be constructed in the 18th century, Tilbhandeshwar Mahadev Mandir holds significant cultural importance and is very famous in Benaras. Tilbhandeshwar Mandir is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is a great attraction as the Shiv Ling in the temple emerged by itself 2,500 years ago and is increasing by the size of a “til”(sesame seed) every day since then. 

    5. Vishwanath Temple BHU

    Vishwanath Mandir also known as New Vishwanath Temple or VT BHU is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the holy city of Varanasi. Shri Vishwanath Mandir has the tallest temple tower in the world. Magnificent architecture, and subtle shades of white and brown mark the beautiful surroundings of this artistic temple. The temple is primarily dedicated to Shiva but it consists of nine shrines within one temple. The temple has an open to all, beautifully constructed garden and roof area where you can chill with friends and family. In the vicinity of the temple are various food stalls and the food is just delicious. VT ki cold coffee is famous in every corner of Varanasi and is a must-try.

  • Durga Temple: Built with a belief that it will always protect the Varanasi city.
  • places to visit in Varanasi Durga Temple
    Durga Temple. Image Credits: bananivista.com
     

    Along with the Hindu temples in Varanasi, one can easily spot many Buddhist and Jain temples. There is also a Tibetan temple, a shrine with beautiful Tibetan architecture. The attractive feature of this temple are the prayer wheels. These wheels release strips of paper with chants written on them when rotated clockwise.

    Also, there are many ghats in Varanasi (Banaras) like the Manikarnika Ghat, Dashashamedh ghat, Assi Ghat, Harishchandra ghat, Munshi Ghat and many more. Ghats, devoted to the lord are built across the river. The shiva Ghat, Manmandir Ghar, Kedar Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat are some of the oldest ghats.

    Must Visit Ghats In Varanasi

    1. Dashashwamedh Ghat
    2. Assi Ghat
    3. Namo Namah Govardhan Ghat
    4. Manikarnika Ghat
    5. Panchganga Ghat

    1) Dashashwamedh Ghat

    The busiest, most spectacular, and an important ghat is Dashashwamedh Ghat situated on the bank of the river Ganga. The beauty of Dashashwamedh ghat in the evening is mesmerizing. With thousands of people, the Ghat is buzzed with Sadhus and devotees of Lord Shiva, and the tourists enjoy the peace amidst the chaos. Diyas can be seen floating in the River Ganga and the scene is just soothing to the eyes. The famous Ganga Aarti is performed daily at dusk with proper rituals. The grand aarti with the sounds of mantras echoing in your ears and the sense of faith is a treat to experience. There are many shops at the Ghat where you can buy beautiful handicrafts and other items along with sacred things. There are other exquisite stores including libraries as well.

    2) Assi Ghat

    A person native to Banaras has the name “Assi Ghat” on their lips. The Ghat is cherished and the most loved by everyone. The view of the sunrise from Assi Ghat is enchanting and you should definitely experience it! Assi Ghat is where “Subah-e-Banaras” is organized every morning from around 4 AM. The cool breeze and the scintillating morning aarti are to die for. The boat ride in the morning can capture your heart and you can feed the birds along the way. Assi Ghat is where you can praise the beauty of the river Ganga. Subah-e-Banaras is a cluster of events where you can do yoga early morning and enjoy Hindustani classical music. Visitors can go up in a hot-air balloon for an aerial view of Assi Ghat. There are beautiful riverside cafes in the area and it’s just captivating.

    3) Namo Namah Govardhan Ghat

    Intrinsic architecture adorns Namo Ghat which is famous for the artistic design of worshipping hands. A perfect place to hang out with family and your loved ones, you can also enjoy boat rides at Namo Ghat. Also known as Khidkiya Ghat, this ghat is now famous for its picturesque background and is a sight to behold.

    4) Manikarnika Ghat

    Considered to be the most sacred cremation ground, Manikarnika Ghat is also known as “The Burning Ghat”. It is believed that the soul of a human attains moksha if cremated here. Elders from the whole country come to Kashi to spend their last days in the land of Shiva and wait for a peaceful death. The Hindu genealogy registers at Varanasi are kept here. Various illustrations of the Manikarnika ghat are found in History and it is believed to be one of the oldest ghats in India.

    5) Panchganga Ghat

    Panchganga ghat is the most appealing and vibrant ghat in Banaras. The beauty and prestige of this ghat will leave you stunned. Panchganga Ghat, as its name suggests, is where five sacred rivers, namely Ganga, Saraswati, Yamuna, Kirana, and Dhupapapa converge and form a scintillating spectacle of beauty. Every year at Devdeepawali, the ghat is lit up by countless diyas and lamps and the aura at the Ghat is simply alluring.

    Mughals built the Alamgir Mosque in the 17th century. The fort has an interesting history so it’s worth visiting there. Also, the Ramnagar fort located opposite to the Tulsi Ghat is a very mesmerizing historic monument.

    Varanasi tourism: What to not miss while in Varanasi

    What to not miss while in Varanasi Ganga Aarti
    Ganga Aarti. Image Credits: worldofdevotion.com
     

    Ganga Aarti in Varanasi

    Ganga Aarti the most famous thing you will come across when in Varanasi. It is something you just shouldn’t miss. It is performed grandly on the banks of the holy Ganges at Dashashwamedh Ghat every morning and evening. The entire ghat gets illuminated with the divine light that can be felt strongly. Temples in Varanasi add to its beauty.

    Ganga Aarti in Varanasi Experience

    The boat ride in Varanasi

    What to not miss while in Varanasi the boat ride
    Image Credits: Intrepid Travel

    The boat ride in Ganga will give you an astonishing experience to remember as you can captivate the magnificent view of dawn and dusk along the river.

    The boat ride in Varanasi Experience

    Ganga Mahotsav in Varanasi

    The Ganga Mahotsav festival is celebrated every year to display the heritage of the Gangetic plains. Every year , the government organizes this festival for 5 days to promote tourism.

    What to not miss while in Varanasi Ramnagar Ramlila
    What to not miss while in Varanasi: Ramnagar Ramlila. Image Credits: India Travel Stories

    Ramnagar Ramlila in Varanasi

    Ramnagar Ramlila at Varanasi is a huge festival held in the month of September and October. Organized for 31 days, it depicts the journey of the Lord Rama through a play as mentioned in Ramayana. This is the world’s oldest performance of Ramlila which makes it more special.

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    Varanasi tourism: Places to visit near Varanasi (Banaras)

    Image credits: Trell

    Rajdari and Devadari waterfalls

    Devadari and Rajdari waterfalls situated in Chandauli 60 km from Varanasi (Banaras) are famous for their own specialties. Rajdari Waterfall is the popular picnic spot and water falling from the cliff makes it beautiful while Devdari Waterfall attracts lots of tourists with its cascading silver water and green surroundings. Your Varanasi trip will remain incomplete without visiting the falls.

    Tanda falls

    Tanda falls is also an amazing waterfall which looks more beautiful in the monsoon is in Mirzapur district which is 80 km away from Varanasi

    Mukkha falls is another mesmerizing waterfall situated 60 km away from Varanasi

    Varanasi tourism: How to travel to Varanasi?

    By Air: Varanasi Aiport is well linked to major international airports like Delhi and Mumbai.

    Train: Varanasi Junction situated in the city of Varanasi is the best option to travel as it has good connectivity across India.

    By Road: You can travel by bus through state buses. Also, you can travel through private air continued buses. Varanasi (Banaras) is also connected to the major road of the U.P. you can hire a taxi or car.

    Best time to visit Varanasi- The winters(October- February) are said to be the best time to travel to Varanasi.
    Best time to visit Varanasi. Image Credits: Holidify

    Varanasi tourism: Best places to shop in Varanasi

    Your Varanasi trip will remain incomplete without buying souvenirs for your loved ones. Here are the best places to shop in the city:

    1. U.P Cottage Emporium
    2. Godowlia
    3. Chowk and Urban Haat
    4. Vishwanath Gali

    1) U.P cottage emporium

    Best places to shop in Varanasi U.P cottage emporium
    U.P cottage emporium. Image Credits: tripadvisor.in

    This place has got the best handmade products/cloth materials.

    2) Godowalia

    Best places to shop in Varanasi Godowalia
    Godowalia. Image Credits: Wanderlust Go

    You will find here the best textiles, carpets, weaving, and embroidered silks

    3) Chowk and urban haat

    Best places to shop in Varanasi Chowk and urban haat
    Chowk and urban haat.

    It is the best place for handicrafts and handlooms.

    4) Vishwanath Gali

    Best places to shop in Varanasi Vishwanath Galli
    Varanasi tourism: Best places to shop in Varanasi: Vishwanath Galli. Image Credits: .wikimedia.org

    The street food of the Vishwanath Galli is something you should not miss. From tasting the different types of sweets to some spicy Indian street food. This Galli has got something for every type of taste bud.

    Some other places to shop:

    1. Dalmandi
    2. Orderly Bazar Market
    3. Banaras Art Gallery

    Where to stay in Varanasi?

    You can find yourself some very affordable accommodations by booking online. You can also check the link below to get the best offers. We are here to make your Varanasi trip sorted.

    https://www.yatra.com/hotels/hotels-in-varanasi

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