Varanasi, Kashi or Benaras
-a city with different names but the same deep-rooted emotions!
Varanasi is the land of Ghats, the city beyond times and the city that has created the maximum amount of curiosity among local as well as international travelers. Varanasi attracts thousands of travelers around the worlds every year. Some come here for a religious retreat, some to rediscover themselves, some for moksha, some to find the true meaning of life.
There are many unique ideologies engraved in Varanasi that creates curiosity among people of India and abroad. The concept of Moksha, Mukti Bhavan, Aghori Sadhu are among the few. So if you are planning a trip to Benaras soon and want an idea of what to expect as a traveller in Varanasi, you are at a right place.
Things to do in Varanasi
Explore the Ghats of Varanasi on foot or boat ride
A trip to Varanasi is incomplete without spending time along the Ghats of the Ganga. Walk along the ghats, go for a boat ride early in the morning or during sunset. Varanasi looks the best from the boats. Boat ride may cost you somewhere around Rs.150- Rs 200 per person. Do not miss the morning ritual called the Ganga Arati at Assi Ghat and evening arati at Dashaswamedh Ghat
Sit on to Ghats of Varanasi for some time to have an exclusive experience of the Ganges.
Travel to Sarnath and Ramnagar Fort
If you have a day or two extra with you to spare, do go out and visit these historic places around Varanasi.
Go around and visit the Temples of Varanasi
There are many small and big temples in Varanasi. Kashi Viswanath temple, Sankatmochan Temple, and Durga Temple being some of the most famous once. Do visit these temples if you want to know more about the religion and cultures.
Visit the Manikarnika ghat and Mukti Bhavan
According to popular Hindus belief, people who are cremated after death at this Ghat gets freedom from the cycle of rebirth and get the ultimate Moksha. Hundreds of lifeless bodies are brought here every day for the last rituals. It is also said that many people understand that their time to die is near and they come away to Mukti Bhavan and wait for their time.
It may sound quite overwhelming in the beginning but the ease with which they accept death as a part of life is just amazing. After a walk along the Manikarnika ghat, I realized death is the inevitable truth of life and life is too short to be wasted on unnecessary things. Honestly, I started valuing life much more after this trip.
Walk through the gullies of Varanasi
Varanasi gullies are home to some colorful shops. If you are up for some shopping, this is the place for you. From Benarasi saree, scarfs, earrings to colorful bangles, pan masala, beautiful little souvenirs and what not.
What to eat in Varanasi?
The variety of food available here will blow your mind for sure. Benaras is famous for Lassi, Kachories, Paan, Thandai, Tea, Rabri, and Sweets.Some of my recommendations would be:
- Blue Lassi, Pehelwan Lassi and Baba Lassi for refreshments
- Try Bunny Cafe if you are fond of Japanese or Korean food
- Kashi Chat Bhandar and Ram Bhandar for some delicious snacks (tomato chaat topping the list)
One of the common refreshments of Varanasi is the Bhang Lassi. Try it at your own risk as you may get very high especially if it’s your 1st time. Avoid it if you are traveling solo
Where to stay in Varanasi?
There are a lot of options available. You will get hotels which may cost you anywhere around Rs 1000 to Rs 2000.
There are many backpackers hostel around Varanasi
Some renowned once are Zostel, Bunked up Hostel, Chatter Box Hostel, Hostel Lavi. These hostels are quite affordable.
I stayed in Zostel and Bunked up hostel. Both were safe and well maintained and safe. The advantage of Bunked up is, its very near to the ghat. So do check this place if you want to stay near the ghats.
How to reach and move around the city?
Varanasi has railway station as well as an Airport. So you can reach here by train or flight. From Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport an Ola or Uber cab would cost you around Rs.400 to Rs 500. The airport taxies ask around Rs 800 to reach the city.
You can explore the city on foot or take a rickshaw. You need to negotiate with the rickshaw pullers a lot. The other option is to take shared autos. They can drop you to those important junctions like Godowlia, BHU Gate, Lanka etc.
Keep the GPS handy to have a hassle-free travel.
That was my travel story of Benaras. Please do share your experience and if you want to know things to go in Kerala please visit Varkala- the hidden treasure of Kerala India or Vattakanal- ‘the Mini Israel’ in South India
To know about my solo venture to Northeast India please visit Sikkim- the land of mist & mountains.