Varanasi(also known as Benaras or Kashi) is situated in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, India. We visited Varanasi in the beginning of July, 2015 for couple of days. Known for the famous Vishwanth Temple, Annapurna temple and numerous ghats, Varanasi is a very sacred place for Hindus. The holy river Ganga which is the longest river of India flows through the city.
We booked a cab ride in advance online for the entire day for convenience as I was travelling with my family, and the fare is very economical (Please see the Important Information section for cab details and fares). On the first day after having breakfast, we headed to Dasaswamedh ghat to take a boat ride on river Ganga to see all the ghats in the daylight( I would recommend to take another boat ride at night prior to Ganga Aarti to have another spectacular view of ghats at night.)
For boat ride on Ganga river to see the Ghats, you need to bargain or else you will be cheated as the boat owners quote for double/ triple the approximate actual price. We paid INR 500 which is approximately £5 for the ride for the entire family of 5.
After we finished the 2hr long boat ride on river Ganga, we visited the Viswanath temple (Cabs will not be allowed in to the temple street so you need to walk for 30 mins to enter the temple main door). Along the way to temple there are plenty of small shops which sell idols of famous Hindu Gods, souvenirs and the famous Benaras silk sarees. The darshan took us around 2 hrs to complete and we had a delicious lunch with rice and curry inside the Annapurna Devi temple. After a little shopping in the temple complex, we came back to Dasaswamedh ghat to take another boat ride on river Ganga now in the moon light. At around 7 pm in the night Ganga Aarti started and we watched that magnificent event from the boat.
The next day we started our journey to Sarnath, a famous and sacred place for Buddists, after having mouth watering puri, vegetable curry along with jalebi as breakfast. It’s a 45 min drive from Varanasi and the moment you enter Sarnath, you would experience divine serenity. It’s a small town with lots of Buddhist temples and monasteries. We visited the archaeological museum first to have a glimpse of Ashoka Pillar and then seen the famous Dhameka and Chaukhandi Stupas. On the way back to Varanasi, we visited Japanese and Tibetan temples which have the architecture of their respective countries. Once we reached Varanasi, we drove through the Benaras Hindu University (established in 1916) to see various blocks and campuses for approximately 30 mins and then finally reached the hotel with lots of memories to remember for the entire life.
Things to see/ do in Varanasi:
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple (another famous temple Annapurna Devi temple also situated in the same complex.)
- Banaras Hindu University.
- Take a baot ride to see all ghats.
- Ganga Aarti (performed everyday in the evening, best view would be from the boat).
- Durga Temple.
- Sarnath which is 13 km drive from Varanasi is a sacred place for Buddhists. Archaeological museum where ashoka pillar is preserved, Dhameka stupa, Chaukhandi stupa, Japanese monastery, Tibetian monastery.
- Ramnagar fort which is 14 km drive from Varanasi.
Food to try:
- Puri, vegetable curry with jalebi which is a traditional breakfast in UP.
We used Varanasi Cabs to book our ride for the couple of days. A ride in Innova (accomodates 7 people) costed INR 1800 (approximately £18/ $27) for the whole day in the city.
How to get to Varanasi:
Varanasi is easily accessible by air, rail and road. Varanasi airport is the nearest airport which has services from the national capital New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.