So you’ve finally decided to visit Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India. Wise decision! You must have read many articles in magazines about how Varanasi portrays India’s religious and cultural domain via its rituals, customs, and festivals. Surely, you don’t want to miss all that vibrance and brilliance since it may even take you a step closer to God.
Going beyond the spiritual aspect, Varanasi has a plethora of other things waiting to be discovered in its bustling areas. Explore the simple yet scrumptious cuisine, the serenity of the Ganges, and the ingenious layout of the ghats which in all have contributed to Varanasi’s aesthetics and vibrancy. What else can you explore? Read our article to find out 6 unmissable things to do in Varanasi that will help you to experience Varanasi more wholly.
A Boat Ride In The Morning At The Ganges
If you want to experience Varanasi at its quietest moment, then take a boat ride early in the morning. Preferably take it before sunrise. Trust us. It will be surprising how a city full of excitement and grandeur looks without much human involvement. The serenity experienced during that time are mainly what one needs to prepare for the rush of the day. And if you’re a person in need of a break from the heaviness of life, this boat ride might even change your outlook towards living. It’ll open your mind to fresher perspectives and understandings.
The boat rides give you a panoramic view of the ghats and former palaces close to the banks of the river. Alongside this, you’ll also notice locals preparing their boats, setting up their stalls, bathing, and washing loads of clothes to prepare for the day. This is the most human involvement you will ever see at daybreak in Varanasi.
Now where prices are concerned, a boat ride will cost you anywhere between INR 200 to INR 1,500 for a 90 – 120 minute trip. Local boatmen charge the former price and the latter by those with motorboats. Motorboats carry more people, so if you want to have a more peaceful environment, choose a local boatman. Motorboats are a good alternative if you’re with family.
Unearth The Magnificence Of Ramnagar Fort
A trip to Varanasi would be incomplete if you haven’t visited Ramnagar Fort. The fort structures follows typical Mughal-style architecture. You’ll find this fortification is just opposite the famous Tulsi Ghat, along the eastern region of the Ganges.
But Ramnagar Fort is more than just a fancy structure made of creamy-colored chunar sandstone. In its vicinity, you will find Saraswati Bhawan, a museum that houses a variety of vintage American cars, sedan chairs rimmed with precious jewels, an arsenal of old guns and swords, vintage clocks, and whatnot! The main attraction is the humongous clock that is in the strong walls of the fort. What makes this clock different is that it not only shows the year, month, week and day, but also displays astronomical facts about the sun, moon, and the various constellations. Pretty impressive, right?
The museum is not the sole attraction of the fort. You have lavish courtyards, balconies, and pavilions adorning the king’s residential complex, the Veda Vyasa Temple, and the celebrated Dakshin Mukhi temple of Hanuman.
Explore The Temples Of Varanasi
You will have to try hard to miss the temples in Varanasi. And not visiting any of them would be a real bummer. Around 20,000 temples built with great finesse, having their own set of rituals and traditions are scattered around the holy city. And these temples have set that religious ambiance that Varanasi proudly boasts of. Permeated with history and tradition, we have curated some temples that have caught our eye:
- Tulsi Manas Temple: Constructed in 1964, this temple is a devotion to Lord Rama. It is said that this is the place where Goswami Tulsidas wrote the Hindu Epic, Ramayana. That’s why once you enter the main doorway of the temple, you will find various scenes and verses of the Ramayana inscribed on the marble walls of the Temple.
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple: If you’re talking about Shiva temples in Varanasi, then you should visit Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It is also known as the “Golden Temple” since it is revered for the two golden domes built with the gold donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Built in 1780, this temple is among the holiest in the country.
The Street Food
Every state in India has its own signature street food cuisine. In Mumbai, it’s the Vada pav, in Goa it’s the Choris Pao, and in Kolkata, it’s the Luchi – Alu Dom. Varanasi is no stranger to unique street food cuisine. After you have had your fill of sightseeing, it is now time to fill your tummies with their most celebrated Kachori Sabzi, Choora Matar, Chena Dahi Vada, Malaiyyo, and more. In fact, we’ve done an entire article on must-eat street food, and it still isn’t enough!
Out of the many eateries in Varanasi, you should definitely check out Blue Lassi shop. Its name represents not only the blue decor but also describes an emotion. A sip from one of its 83 handmade lassi varieties will surely drive the blues away! This little establishment has been standing for over 78 years. Yet, it still continues to rank among the most-visited places. Here, you will find a man diligently crafting the right proportion of ingredients into making the lassi while overlooking the street. Chocolate, coffee, and banana are the star batters amongst the others.
Shop In The Bazaars Of Varanasi
Legend says that it’s illegal to leave a place without buying any souvenirs. Okay, okay, we just made that up. But on a serious note, if you want to have a more enthralling experience in Varanasi, you need to shop in the gullies of this city. The shops are decked with an assortment of flamboyant jewelry, bangles, artifacts, sweets, and whatnot. But most of all, people flock near clothing outlets to score Banarasi silk sarees, Varanasi’s prestigious and celebrated garment. Drop by The Banaras Silk Emporium to get the best deals and quality for these sarees and bed covers as well. The best part about shopping in Varanasi is that you can haggle. If you want to test your haggling skills, visit Thatheri Bazaar, Godowlia Market, Vishwanath lane and Chowk, and Shri Gandhi Ashram Khadi Bhandar. Happy shopping!
The Evening Aarti Ceremonies
To end the day, visit the evening aarti ceremonies where thousands flock to witness the pujas and offerings performed by the priests. This is one of those things to do in Varanasi that truly capture the essence of the buzzing city. It’s not the type of lighting you’ll expect. Here, the lighted diyas and brass lamps contribute to making the ambiance amber – something no Instagram filter can truly capture.
Accompanying the lighting, you have the fragrance of fresh flowers and incense sticks coupled with the chants of religious mantras by the priests. Witness the aarti ceremony on the Daswanand Ghat of the Ganges river; trust us, you won’t regret it.
We are certain that you will have a ball of a time exploring Varanasi after having read our guide on the things to do in Varanasi. This city has a lot to offer in terms of culture, cuisine, and tradition, and the people will make you feel like one among them. If you need an affordable place to crash in, check out our goSTOPS property in Varanasi. It’s centrally located yet far from the hustle and bustle of city noise. And the best part is, you meet like-minded travelers making your stay even more comfortable and warm!
How Expensive Is Varanasi?
You will certainly not burn a hole in your pocket since food and travel is cheap in Varanasi. Of course, you will be saving a huge amount on accommodation since you’re choosing goSTOPS Varanasi.
Is Alcohol Allowed In Varanasi?
Varanasi is not specifically a dry state, but it is prohibited to drink near heritage sites and religious institutions. This is quite understandable.
Which Month Is Best To Visit Varanasi?
It’s best to visit Varanasi during the winter months which is between November to February. The climate is pleasant and chill, and it is the best time to explore the place without getting tired. The average winter temperature is around 5°C so carry a light woolen sweater or scarf. It will do the trick in keeping you warm and comfy.