Varanasi, a special city in India, is known for its rich history, culture, and spirituality. People often refer to it as the spiritual capital. It stands by the holy River Ganges and abounds with traditions, steps by the river (Ghats), temples, and a lively atmosphere. In this travel blog, we’ll guide you through the enchanting streets of Varanasi, giving you info on places to see, what you need for your visit, how much it might cost, where to stay, what food to try, what the local life is like, what to pack, and other exciting things to do that will make your trip unforgettable.
Places to visit:
Dashashwamedh Ghat: This bustling ghat is known for the Ganga Aarti, a mesmerizing ritual that takes place every evening. Devotees and tourists gather to witness the captivating display of fire, music, and devotion.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple: One of the holiest temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, this site is a must-visit for spiritual seekers and architecture enthusiasts.
Sarnath: Just a short drive from Varanasi, Sarnath is where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. The Dhamek Stupa and Sarnath Museum are significant attractions here.
Assi Ghat: A quieter ghat compared to Dashashwamedh, Assi Ghat is perfect for a peaceful morning walk or boat ride. The serene atmosphere is ideal for meditation and reflection.
Banaras Hindu University (BHU): Explore the sprawling campus, visit the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, and take a leisurely stroll around the beautiful grounds.
Travelers to India typically require a tourist visa. You can apply for an e-Visa online, which is a convenient and efficient way to obtain your travel authorization. Make sure to check the latest visa requirements and processing times on the official government website or with the Indian embassy or consulate in your country.
Costs and Fees:
Air Ticket Fees:
The cost of air tickets to Varanasi varies depending on your departure location, the time of booking, and the airline you choose. On average, expect to pay between $500 and $1,200 for a round-trip ticket. Booking well in advance can help you secure more affordable fares.
Varanasi is relatively budget-friendly once you arrive. For daily expenses, including food, transportation, and entrance fees, budget around $30 to $50 per day. This amount can vary depending on your choice of accommodation, dining preferences, and shopping activities.
Varanasi offers a wide range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. On average, you can expect to pay between $15 and $150 per night, depending on your preferences. Budget travelers can find clean and comfortable hostels or guesthouses for as little as $15 per night, while luxury travelers can enjoy five-star hotels with prices around $150 or more per night.
- Guided Tours: If you wish to hire a guide for in-depth insights into the city’s history and culture, you should be prepared to pay around $20 to $30 for a half-day tour.
- Boat Rides: Exploring Varanasi from the Ganges is a must. Boat rides can cost between $10 to $20 per person, depending on the type of boat and duration.
- Shopping: Varanasi is famous for its silk sarees and intricate handicrafts. Budget for souvenir shopping if you plan to take back some unique pieces of India.
Food & Lifestyle
Chaat: Varanasi is famous for its chaat, a delightful snack made from a mix of potatoes, chickpeas, spices, and tangy chutneys.
Kachori: These are deep-fried, flaky pastries filled with spicy lentil or potato mixtures. They make for a tasty and satisfying snack.
Jalebi: People make jalebi by deep-frying coils of batter and soaking them in sugar syrup, resulting in a crispy and syrupy dessert.
Thandai: Thandai is a traditional Indian drink, especially popular in Varanasi during festivals like Holi. It’s a refreshing blend of milk, nuts, and various spices, including saffron and cardamom.
Lassi: You can enjoy sweet or salty lassi, depending on your preference. They are perfect for quenching your thirst.
Vegetarian Curries: Varanasi’s cuisine features an array of vegetarian curries, often cooked with a rich blend of spices and served with rice or bread. Some famous dishes include baingan ki sabzi (eggplant curry), aloo puri (potato curry with fried bread), and more.
Banarasi Paan: A visit to Varanasi is incomplete without trying Banarasi Paan. This sweet and spicy digestive is made by wrapping betel leaves around a mixture of areca nuts, slaked lime, and sweet or savory fillings. It’s a unique and flavorful way to end your meal.
Varanasi is a city deeply rooted in tradition and spirituality. The daily life of the locals revolves around the river, ghats, and temples. Respect the local customs, be mindful of photography restrictions at certain religious sites, and embrace the slow pace of life that allows you to soak up the spiritual atmosphere.
- Comfortable Clothing: Pack modest and breathable clothing, especially if you plan to visit temples. Also, carry a shawl or scarf for covering your head when required.
- Sun Protection: Varanasi can get quite hot. Don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself from the sun.
- Cash and Cards: While Varanasi is becoming more card-friendly, it’s advisable to carry some cash for small purchases and in case of emergencies.
- Water Purification: It’s essential to carry a reusable water bottle with a purifier or buy bottled water to stay hydrated.
- Yoga and meditation: Many ashrams and yoga centers in Varanasi offer classes and workshops for travelers interested in yoga and meditation.
- Cultural Performances: Explore the local art scene by attending classical music and dance performances that often take place in the evenings.
- Photography: Varanasi is a photographer’s paradise. Capture the timeless beauty of the city and its people.
Varanasi is a city that makes you feel something deep inside, giving you a strong spiritual experience that you’ll always remember. You can visit the beautiful Ganga Arti, explore the narrow streets, and visit an old temple. Even though there are expenses involved in the trip, the cultural and spiritual knowledge you’ll gain is definitely valuable. So, get your bags ready, open your mind and heart, and go on a meaningful journey to Varanasi, where ancient customs and spiritual insights come together to create wonderful memories.