Exploring India’s Holy Cities: Varanasi

Varanasi, considered the holiest city in India, is situated on the banks of river Ganga and is a pilgrimage site for Hindus mainly due to the city’s long-standing history. Banaras, as it is referred to by the locals is the oldest living city in the world. This sacred city is famous for hundreds of ghats and a single belief that one can attain ‘Moksha’ if they die in Varanasi. If you are looking for a blend of pilgrimage and vacation, then Varanasi is the ultimate destination for your next holiday.

Over the years, Banaras has turned into the centre of the Indian culture and heritage that draws tourists from around the world. To experience the local culture it is must for every traveller to witness few of the many festivals like Ganga Mahotsav, Maha Shivaratri, and Durga Pooja which are celebrated with great enthusiasm.

When it comes to places that you must see in Varanasi, ghats top the list. There are about 80 to 90 ghats located in Varanasi, and each one is unique in its own right. Dashashwamedh Ghat is distinct amongst the holiest ghats on the banks of River Ganga, mainly because of the Ganga Aarti that is performed there. Few other ghats that you cannot afford to miss are Chet Singh Ghat, Assi Ghat, and Manikarnika Ghat.

There are many temples in Varanasi that you should visit. Kashi Vishwanath Temple is considered one of the holiest temples not just in Banaras but in the world. A few other temples that should be visited are Tridev Temple, Durga Temple, Annapurna Temple, and Sarnath Temple. Ramnagar Fort that was built for the Maharaja of Banaras in the 18th century has a museum that displays a variety of ancient and antique traditional items that are worth witnessing. If you’re planning on including the different ghats and Ramnagar Fort in your itinerary in a single day, we recommend you book a cab to get around in the city. People in Varanasi still indulge in wrestling, so a visit to one such traditional Akhada will help you understand the sport and all the hard work that goes into the sport.

Apart from religious sites and other landmarks, if you are a creative person then visiting a handloom will give you a better idea on how those thin threads are transformed into beautiful patterns. It is highly recommended that you also visit the silk factories to see the silk been spun and artistic items made out of it. Be sure to buy the exquisite Baranasi silk in the form of sarees or other fabrics.

You can also enjoy the boat ride along the Ganga River. The best time to experience the ride is either dusk or dawn. When in the narrow lanes of Banaras, don’t forget to pamper your taste buds with the hot Jalebis, Samosas, Kachoris, Rasmalais and Banarasi pan. The street food in Varanasi is an absolute must-do for any traveller visiting the city for the first time.

Visiting Varanasi in summers is not advisable due to high temperatures. The best time to visit is at the onset of winter between November to March when the temperatures are amicable. The renowned Ganga festival takes place in November where you can witness the city at its spiritual best. Varanasi has its own airport so you need not worry about transportation if you intend to travel by air. If you’d like to explore towns and go sightseeing around Varanasi, book a Savaari cab. Varanasi has a good connectivity to other metro cities with frequent private and government buses available to and from Varanasi. Tourists can rent a cab to discover the city and to visit places such as Sarnath outside the city.

Happy Vacationing!

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