A young group of six cousins – venturing out for our 3 rd trip together, Varanasi does seem to be a weird
choice. Well, it hardly defines “happening” and none of us wanted to visit the temples. Since I had
planned the outing, I was adamant to have an enriching experience. I started checking out quirky places
to stay – well ask anyone about Varanasi all they would say about stay is guesthouses, mess facilities and
ashrams. I dug deeper and found a very colorful hostel called goStops. It looked very attractive on the
internet, the prices cheap and the décor beautiful. I immediately booked the 6-bed dormitory, which
would suit us perfectly. I did not need much convincing since all my cousins were pretty sold seeing the
We flew down in March 2019 and arrived at goStops. It is most definitely a hidden treasure, no one
knows about it, the cab driver never heard of it. We found it almost by fluke and Google! It is a world of
its own. In the middle of the oldest city in India, there stood the most vibrant property I had ever seen. (I
have not been to any other goStops yet). It is straight out of Noddy’s toy town where every house had
perfect geometry and color. The reception was manned by a very welcoming Vishal. The hostel was full
and they had to turn back new customers.
The hostel has a no-shoes policy, which I really liked. It is a 3-storied building; each floor has a common
area and a balcony along with dorms and personal rooms. The first floor has a big games room and a
nice big swing. The second floor has the best settee with dining table and a huge terrace. There were
arrangements for every type of guest, whether you are a book lover, guitar player or more of a foosball
person, you could simply choose your spot and spend hours at a stretch. Our six-bed dorm was amazing,
everyone had a built in cabinet with the bed along with cute lights and fans. We chose our bunk beds
and settled down. We had planned a complete day outing but wished we could stay in and chill.
After a city tour, we returned to the hostel soon. We settled for the lighted balcony with board games
and the guitar. Soon, other hostellers started coming in. I think we were the only Indian group. We
interacted with most of them and met a very beautiful French woman. She was staying in the tent,
which we still had not discovered. She took us to the rooftop to show her tent. The weather was nice to
enjoy gazing at the stars in the clear sky. We had a wonderful conversation with her, my sister knows
French hence our camaraderie grew faster. She seemed to have taken a dip in the Ganges and even took
a bottle of “holy” water to drink! We strongly suggested her against drinking anything other than
bottled water. After an eventful day, we bunked in to our dorms for the night.
The breakfast is served on the second floor. After a healthy and wholesome breakfast of bread, eggs
made to order, cereal and milk, we headed out for another fun filled tour. We checked out but kept our
luggage in the cloakroom. Vishal had booked the “Ganga Arti” experience for us. We came back right on
time. The Asi Ghat is at a walkable distance from the hostel. Vishal was our guide for the experience. He
maneuvered through the famous Varanasi Gullys and explained the significance of the places. At the
Ghat, we boarded a boat and started the tour. The guide told us the history behind the city and each of
its Ghats. I did not know any of this, so it was really enriching. Finally, we anchored at the Dasaswamedh
Ghat to see the famous Ganga Arati. The breathtaking moment of seeing five Pandits performing the
Arati against the backdrop of the setting sun was surreal. We were completely mesmerized by the
beauty of the scenery. Our boat was pretty close to the Ghat so we could get a wonderful view. We
deboarded at Dasaswamedh Ghat to try out the local delicacies.
After dinner, we returned to the hostel to pick up our luggage and continue our journey onwards. The
stay was amazing and completely unreal amidst the very traditional Varanasi. This is one of the places,
which looks much more beautiful than the pictures on the Internet. We returned with our hearts full
and souls enriched. Ever since, I have been planning trips to places with a goStops hostel!
Written By Sukanya Das – A travel enthusiast by weekends and an analyst by weekdays.