India

A Detailed Guide of Varanasi or Kashi I Key Points To Know Before Visiting The Spiritual City

Varanasi, also called Benares, Banaras, or Kashi, is existed at least 3,000 years ago (and possibly much earlier). It is one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism and according to legend was founded by God Shiva. At the same time, it’s a tiring, liberating, and unfettered experience. Varanasi’s colossal temples and ghats, as well as other prominent tourist attractions, attract millions of visitors each year. It is a popular tourist site not only among Indians but also among foreigners.

Although Varanasi is famed for its ghats, temples, and music, there are many more notable places to see and enjoy during your visit. Varanasi is India’s oldest city, and its surroundings have an old-world charm to them. The city is rich in culture and is one of India’s holiest cities. Tulsidas, a well-known Indian writer, composed Ram Charit Manas here. Here’s my detailed guide of Varanasi or Kashi ( Whatever name you want to call) with all the key points you need to know before visiting the spiritual city.

 

History Of Varanasi

Mark Twain, the great World traveller, who was enthralled by the legend and purity of Varanasi, once wrote: “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”.

Varanasi, also known as Benaras or Kashi, is one of the world’s oldest living cities. Varanasi’s importance in Hindu mythology is mostly unknown. Hindus believe that dying in the holy land of Varanasi will grant salvation and liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth. Varanasi’s beginnings are unknown. It is the home of Lord Shiva and Parvati. If anyone washes his or her sin in the river Ganges and die here at the time of death then that person would gain Moksha.

 

Best Time to Visit in Varanasi

Varanasi is best visited between October and March. Every year in November, Varanasi hosts the Ganga Mahotsav, a five-day grand celebration that is a highlight of the city. The tourist attractions in Varanasi during this period will allow you to see the finest of the city!

Point  – If you are a budget traveller I would suggest you visit Varanasi in the month of Jan or Feb as at the time of the festival, Varanasi becomes one of the costlier city in terms of everything.

 

The Ghats of Varanasi

There are 84 Ghats are exist in Varanasi and one can easily complete the Ghats one by one as all the ghats are connected to each other. The first Ghat is Assi Ghat and the last ghat is Adi Keshava Ghat.

Assi Ghat

The Assi ghat has mythological significance apart from the first ghat. Having said that the two demons  ‘Shumbh-Nishumbh, was slain here by Goddess Durga after that, Durga, threw her sword, in the Assi river. The place of her meeting with the Ganga forms the Assi Ghat.

Point– You can find the famous Lemon Tea here. Also, this ghat is famous for Yoga and Pranayama.

Tulsi Ghat

The Ghat is named after Tulsidas who lived there while he composed the Ramcharitmanas.

Harischandra Ghat

Harish Chandra Ghat is one of Varanasi’s oldest Ghats. It is named after the fabled King Harish Chandra, who once toiled at the cremation ground here for the truth and kindness to endure. The Gods are said to have rewarded him for his resolve, kindness, and honesty by restoring his lost throne and dead son to him. You can see the famous Kalu Dom’s house here. Harischandra ghat is also called the second-largest Cremation ghat in Varanasi.

Dashashwamedh Ghat

On the Ganga River in Varanasi, Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main ghat and the most magnificent ghat located close to Vishwanath Temple. It is related to two Hindu legends: Lord Brahma, according to legend, built it to welcome Lord Shiva. According to another tradition, at the Dasa-Ashwamedha yajna performed here, Lord Brahma sacrificed ten horses.

Point– The famous Ganga Arati occurs here.

Manikarnika Ghat

Manikarnika is one of the holiest and the largest cremation ghats among the Varanasi Ghats. It is believed that a soul finds moksha when cremated here. Thus, scores of the elderly across the whole country seek to walk up to its edges and spend their last days enchanting the death prayer here.

Points – Hire a boat for 2 to 3 hours and take a tour of all 84 ghats while listening to the stories of the ghats from the boatman. 

 

The Temples of Varanasi

It is said that you would see more temples than houses in Varanasi. There are 10,000 plus temples in Varanasi established in the Galis (streets), in the houses and everywhere. I would suggest you take a Rikshaw and start covering the famous temples as listed below.

(Don’t forget to maintain the below sequences)

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple would be incomplete without including it from any list of attractions to visit in Varanasi. This temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and has been mentioned in the holy scriptures.

Annapurna Temple

It is said that if you would not visit and have prasad from Annapurna Temple after visiting Kashi Vishwanat Temple, your worship would not be successful. So, make sure after visiting the shiva temple, you should visit Annapurna temple next and have the prasad there. 

Vishalakshi Temple

After Annapurna Temple goes for a visit at Vishalakshi Temple. It is one of the famous Shakti Pithas in India where Devi Sati’s earring had fallen.

Til Bhandeswar Mandir

This temple has a unique type of Shiva linga. The Shiva linga is very big and it is said that this linga increase every year the size of a til (sesame sid).

Durga Temple

This temple also called the monkey temple painted red with an ochre. This Temple is among the sacred places to see in Varanasi. It is believed that the idol of Goddess Durga in the temple was not manmade or constructed, it appeared on its own.

The below temples you can visit if you want to visit other most prominent temples are :

Tulsi Manas Temple

Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple

Nepali Temple

Chinese Temple

Tibetan Temple

Bharat Mata Temple

New Kashi Vishwanath Temple ( BHU)

 

Places to See other than Ghats and Temples

Varanasi is not only famous for its Ghats and Temples but also famous for its rich history, culture and humanism. There are people from around the world who come here and established or ruined the place for their own benefits, love or fault. Let’s explore those places virtually and take a virtual tour.

Gyan Vapi Well

This well-known Wisdom well located inside the Kashi Vishwanat Temple. Aurangzeb during his time demolished the temple and created a mosque and this well there. To take revenge he threw the main shiva linga inside the well. Later on, a replica of the main jyotirlinga is established inside the temple and I believe the main shiva idol still in the well. 

Ramnagar Fort

One of the iconic spots for sunsets and this place is famous for the vintage collection of cars and old historical pieces of stuff of Varanasi. 

Benaras Hindu University

One of the famous universities in India, BHU famous for its subjects, classes and World-class teaching style.

 

Eat like a Banarasi

Varanasi food

When in Varanasi, do not forget to eat all the street famous lip-smacking delicacies like a local. These street foods of Varanasi represent the true essence of the city’s culture and food style. Banarsi Paan is the most recommended when in Varanasi. Also, Try Mallaiyo, Lassi, Kachori sabzi, Jalebi, Dahi Bhalla, Samosa, Tamatar Chatt, Laung-Lata and you’ll fall in love with the city again and again. There are few shops I would like to recommend from my personal experiences are Pahelwan Lassi, Dadi Ki Kachori, Dina Chaat, Assi Ghat Lemon tea and rest you can experiments and give other locals a fair chance. 

 

Where To Stay

Varanasi is for everyone and very reasonable in terms of food and stay. There are n numbers of Hostels, Guest Houses, Air BNB and hotels available as per the budget.

Point– Do not forget to check-in near the ghat as it would be easy for you to catch crazy sunrise from the ghat in the morning.

 

How To Reach Varanasi

Varanasi is well connected with India by air and roadways. There is a new airport in the city and frequent flights are available from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities. 

There are lots of trains that are available to connect Varanasi from other cities. Apart from, Varanasi is well connected via road so anyone can reach Varanasi by road too.

Point– Inside of the city, the best way to explore Varanasi is by walk. The streets of Varanasi is very narrow so walk ao Rikshaw or Auto are the best options to hop in the busy streets.

 

What To Buy from Varanasi

Varanasi is very famous for its Pera and Varanasi Silk Saree. Godaulia road is a popular place for shopping. There are places where you can witness how the Varanasi silk is prepared and from there also you can purchase fabrics or sarees. 

 

3 Days Budgets For Varanasi

If you are a budget traveller then can find below calculation for 3 days stay –

Stay – Hostel / Guest House – 500 x 3 = 1500

Food – (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack) – 1000 x 3= 3000

Commute – Boat, Walk, Rikshaw – 500 x 3 = 1500

Extra Spend – 1000 ( Gift, puja )

Total  = INR 7000 / 3 Days

 

Is Varanasi Worth To Visit?

I personally recommend this city to visit once not only to worship the god or visit the temples ( if you are a believer) but also for yoga, pranayam or music ( If you are a non-believer then too). The city has a unique culture that reflects in its food, streets, house structures, people and cultures. 

 

Is Varanasi Safe for Solo Female travellers?

A lot of solo female travellers travelling regularly in Varanasi. In consideration of its huge crowd, narrow lanes I would rather advise you to take a few precautions while travelling in Varanasi like we do when travelling to other cities or countries. 

Varanasi

  • Try to explore the place in daylights
  • Do not give too much information to a stranger
  • Do not wear shorts or many revealing dresses as this place has some aesthetic values.
  • Do not try Siddhi, Bhang, Ganja or charas with strangers.
  • Try to take a city guide map

For me, this is an absolute safe city and you can travel solo here.

 

Cons of Varanasi

Varanasi is not always serene and holy for everyone. There are few famous scams that are still going on and you should avoid these scams. There are fake sadhus, well-educated historians, Priests of the temples are the main ones who might cheat you, so beware of those extra friendly or extra enthusiastic people.

Avoid those people who directly approach you and start telling the history of the city or approach you to take you to a great puja place.

Few people can ask you to donate money for the poor’s cremation purpose. Avoid them.

Points 

  • Book your hotel or stay in advance and avoid cab drivers or auto drivers
  • Book the boat ride from the ghat directly. Avoid auto driver if they approach you to book your boat.
  • Carry small cash and keep a debit or credit card

You May read- 20 Ways To Save Money While Travelling The World

Nearby Places from Varanasi

There are few places are very near to Varanasi that you can visit those places as a day trip

  • Sarnath: Very famous Buddhist place to visit, 10 km away from Varanasi
  • Vindhabasini Temple
  • Rajdari and Devdari waterfalls

If you really want to visit the real India and the place where people worship and celebrate death for salvation, then do visit Varanasi. This vivid colourful city would not only provide some excellent delicious cuisines but also give you the best lifetime memories of the streets, Ganga Arati, Boat ride and people.

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silvaand Noor Anand Chawla.

Do you want to Include anything? Do share in the comment section

 

 

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39 thoughts on “A Detailed Guide of Varanasi or Kashi I Key Points To Know Before Visiting The Spiritual City

  1. Very good post. Highly informative for travellers who want to visit these places in Varanasi or Kashi. Nicely written. Keep up the good work.

  2. I visited Varanasi in January 2019 and happily smiled through reading your post as I have been to and done almost everything you mentioned. Your posts are very detailed and helpful.

  3. That’s such a detailed account of this city of Varanasi.
    This will.serve as a guide for every visitor.

  4. I have an eternal connection with the city of Banaras. Don’t know why, I feel like it’s my home. I wish to visit there at least once in life. Your post is a keeper for me. I have bookmarked and saved it for further purpose. Thanks for sharing a lovely post on my beloved city.

  5. Love your detailed information. Since childhood I’ve been hearing about Varanasi from my father. He would stay there during his college days. All his experiences were so interesting that it’s become my dream destination. Yet still I can’t be able to fulfill my dream even after staying 12 years in North India. Anyway your post has instigated my wish again. Let me bookmark your information to plan accordingly. Thanks 😊.

  6. My dad had recently been to Varanasi and he explained the experience to be surreal. Specially the ghats. Your article has very detailed description and lovely pictures.

  7. Reading about Varanasi reminded me of Rishikesh so much. A few friends also suggested that if I liked Rishikesh then I will definitely fall in love with Varanasi. I guess I know where I’m headed next.

  8. Varanasi is one of the most ancient and amazing cities in India. Varanasi is not to be seen but to be experienced. The ethos of Varanasi is such that it can only be experienced. The ghats of Varanasi are such an integral part of the city and its culture. Reading your post brought back pleasant memories of our own visit to Varanasi.

  9. Varanasi is always on my travel list. Especially the visit of the ghat a performing the Ganga Arti is one my wish. After reading your detailed post, my feeling towards this city has enhanced a lot and I hope I will get a chance to visit once I will be in India. Your youtube detailed video about this place is beautifully picturized and explained.

  10. Though my husband is from a little village close to Varanasi, I have never visited. This has been on my list for the longest time but for some reason, I am never able to make it whenever he visits. As it is a holy place, the spiritual me believes that it is not yet the time for me to visit and I will do so when the time is right. However, I do hope this is soon.

  11. I visited Varanasi couple of years ago with my mother. It is truly a very interesting place and I loved the aarti at the ghats. Very nice guide.

  12. Thank you for such a detailed post. You have covered all the aspects. I am bookmarking it for future reference. I will surely check out your Youtube video too.

  13. I have been planning to visit Varanasi with my little one, but due to COVID-19, I don’t see it happening in the near future. Thank you for such helpful posts, ghats of Varanasi are the major attraction for me.

  14. Varanasi is in my bucket list. It is an interesting place. Great advice shared here. Thanks for sharing this detailed post really helpful. Beautiful pictures.

  15. What a wonderfully detailed post. I have never been to Varanasi. But will definitely refer to your post when I get a chance. Love the pics. And that kachori has my heart!

  16. Ahaa! what to say about Varanasi. This city is my heart, my own place, my home. Being a Banarasiya, I do not need any guide to travel there, but I must confess your post made me so nostalgic. Reading you made me feel like I am walking through all the lanes, ghats temples you just mentioned. Everything is bang on! Indeed a complete guide of dos and don’ts of visiting the holy city. Brilliant Post on Baba Kashi Vishwanath Ki Nagari!!!❤️

  17. It was I like I was visiting the place with you! The vibrant pictures and the aesthetic with which you described all small and big attractions of Varanasi is just beautiful!

  18. Varanasi is older than traditions, this line took my attention. Sometimes the ambience of the place is so magical that every person who visits gets maximum of it. Really liked all the details in the post, shall save the post for future visits.

  19. This is such an exhaustive guide. Definitely bookmarked for when I plan a trip to this holy place. Your post has answered so many questions that one might have while traveling to Varanasi

  20. Thank you for such a detailed post. I am hearing abot Til Bhandeswar temple for the first time. There are so many treasures hidden in the bulan es of Varanasi

  21. I actually always wanted to visit Varanasi and Kashi both. THe review and the guide are very detailed and beautiful!

  22. This city is one of my favorite cities in the world. There are so many shades to it, that one can’t enjoy it all in one visit. I visited this city 4 years back and it was an experience I would like to repeat again. Ganga aarti is definitely one of the must-experiencence thing on the bucket list of all the travelers.

  23. So well written. I’ve been to this beautiful city. Enjoying the boat ride and viewing the Pooja from the shore of Ganga was a great experience. There’re so many details here. Thanks for sharing.

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