India’s Varanasi is one of my favorite places that I’ve visited on my travels. Varanasi was my introduction to India, and although people say it isn’t an honest idea to travel there first, I’m so glad that Varanasi was the primary place I experienced in India.
However, people often say that arriving in Varanasi is often a touch overwhelming. you’ll be greeted by chaos, color and therefore the feeling of stepping back in time. Varanasi may be a wonderful place to go to and that I recommend anyone who visits India to experience Varanasi if you’ll. If you’re planning a visit to Varanasi, here is what to expect.
An Introduction to Varanasi
Varanasi is India‘s oldest city, located along the banks of the famous River Ganges within the state of Uttar Pradesh, in North Malay Archipelago.
Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and is dripping in history and spirituality. it’s one among the seven Hindu and Jainist holy cities, or Sapta Puri, in India. Buddhism is claimed to possess been founded in Varanasi also.
Varanasi may be a spiritual city, where Hindus attend pray, wash away their sins and honor their dead on the banks of the Ganges. Dying in Varanasi is seen as auspicious because it ends the cycle of rebirth. A trip to the Ganges will reveal countless sights that will remain with you long after you allow.
The Ganges aren’t only an area of worship, they supply the backdrop to many locals’ lifestyle. The Ganges maybe a bath, dishwasher, swimming bath and a vessel for commerce for the people that live there. The Ghats are the large steps that led right down to the banks of the Ganges.
When to go to Varanasi
The best time to go to Varanasi is from November to March. We went there in May, and it had been insanely hot. Temperatures were within the ’40s (Celsius). June to September is the monsoon season when the weather remains hot and humid. October to March is cold when temperatures are often as low as 5 degrees. this point of year would be the foremost comfortable time to go to Varanasi. Summer starts in April and should be an honest time to go to if you would like it to be hot, but not unbearable.
What to Expect in Varanasi?
Varanasi may be a special place. it’s also crowded and dusty. All around you, life is happening. you’ll see wonderful sites in Varanasi. From young boys having a water fight within the Ganges to women sitting preparing food in doorways along the winding alleys, or galis, to bodies being cremated and holy men smoking pipes.
Away from the ghats, the streets are busy with people going about their day, and little shops display their wares piled precariously all around their stores. The streets and ghats are often busy and hectic. you’ll see many great sights that you simply won’t forget.
Cremation may be a big part of Varanasi, so you’ll see bodies being burned. You can’t take pictures of this, out of respect for the dead. Some bodies are placed within the Ganges without cremation, so there’s an opportunity a corpse will float by your boat. attempt to embrace these customs, because they’re something to be experienced. It’s really interesting to ascertain how a special culture deals with death.
Varanasi may be a town experienced in tourism. you ought to be careful with friendly guys offering to point out you around or charge you money to observe a burning ceremony. You don’t need to buy anything like that. Holy men may perform a blessing on you then attempt to charge you for it. People may invite a donation to shop for wood for a burning ceremony. Try to not get frustrated by this. Just keep your wits about you and don’t follow people blindly.
We got a lecture about a very nice guy who was curious about our lives and pleased with his town. He showed us a temple around the corner from where we stood. Then he really, really wanted to point out us his uncle’s silk shop. We knew we were being scammed, (although scammed maybe a little bit of a robust word, more like hustled/ given a sales pitch!) but he was so friendly and nice that we said okay, we might have a glance but not buy.
Of course, once within the shop we had to repeatedly explain why we couldn’t pay for a duvet cover, but those situations aren’t so bad goodbye as you recognize what’s happening, which you won’t be swayed. There are many scams like this in India and other touristy places. But really, these sorts of acts are not any worse! And I’ve been one of them, so I can’t really complain!
There are numerous cows wandering around Varanasi. It is often a touch intimidating to undertake squeeze past an enormous bull within the narrow alleys, but they typically won’t pay you much attention.
Way to Go to Varanasi – Taxi from Gorakhpur to Varanasi
We arrived in Varanasi all the way from the Nepal border. We left Sunuali within the morning and got the taxi from Gorakhpur to Varanasi by Musafir India Taxi, and we finally arrived in Varanasi.
We had taken note of areas where there was meant to be budget accommodation, so we told our Taxi driver to bring us somewhere around there, I feel it had been Assi Ghat we mentioned.
We left Varanasi by sleeper train to Agra. A highly recommended experience. Varanasi Junction is that the name of the railway station and it’s a brief rickshaw ride from the old city. Lots of people fly to Varanasi from Delhi or get the overnight train.
Where to Stay in Varanasi
Elvis Guesthouse – Varanasi is crammed with guesthouses and accommodation. After arriving in Varanasi late in the dark, we jumped during a rickshaw and asked to be delivered to cheap accommodation near Assi Ghat. After trying one place that was full, the driving force brought us to Elvis Guesthouse. It was ideal in terms of location, and our budget.
For 800 Rs per night between us, we had an outsized room with specialized air-con! Varanasi in May is unbelievably hot. Really. it had been so hot that going for a walk to the ghats was really tough going. they need rooms without air-con and with a shared bathroom too, so it’s ideal if you’re on a budget. Assi Ghat and therefore the old town offers many budget accommodation.
Eating in Varanasi
Varanasi was somewhere that I didn’t get to experience the maximum amount of new food as I might have liked. I used to be sick once we arrived there, and was then struck down with a nasty case of Delhi belly, so my appetite wasn’t what it normally would be. I didn’t even desire to take photos of my food like I normally would.
Elvis Guesthouse had an enormous and varied menu, featuring everything from Israeli to European food. The Indian selection was specialized. For breakfast, we enjoyed the Elvis Guesthouse breakfasts of toast and jam, omelet and pancakes. For dinner, there was butter chicken, chicken masala and daal makhani.
Our diet in Varanasi consisted of glass bottles of Coke, (so, so, so refreshing within the incredible heat!), delicious coffee (even when it’s boiling outside, I want my coffee fix!) and shakes. We had delicious pizza at Vaatika Cafe on Assi Ghat. The pizza served there was so, so good and almost authentic Italian! I would advise you to sample the sweets sold within the local shops, also as street food stalls. The fried snacks are usually fairly risk-free.
What to do in Varanasi
Visit the Ghats
The ghats are the stone steps resulting in the banks of the Ganges. The Dashashwamedh Ghat is the most visited ghat, and it’s where the nightly Agni Pooja ceremony takes place. The Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghats are where Hindus cremate their dead.
Take a ship ride along the Ganges
Sunrise and sunset are the simplest times to experience this. We only need to do the sunset boat ride, but the sunrise one is supposed to be great also.
Enjoy the colors
Varanasi and India generally are bursting with color. I don’t know what it’s, but the colors really pop up here.
Experience the nightly Agni Pooja ceremony
Performed by Brahmin priests, this popular ceremony involves candles, incense and ringing bells. We only saw it from our boat, but it might be cool to ascertain it from land also. Watching it from a ship may be a very nice experience, as all the boats gather together, gently bumping off one another as children jump from boat to boat and everybody is quietly waiting within the dark.
See silk being spun
Varanasi is crammed with factories and workshops where silk is spun and delightful scarves, bedspreads, and rugs are made. Be prepared to politely refuse the long and friendly sales talk which will follow. We bought three beautiful scarves as gifts, so a minimum of we didn’t leave empty-handed.
Wander through the alleys on the brink of the ghats
We stayed on the brink of the Assi Ghat, and wandering through the streets, giving burly bulls the proper way and stopping to talk to locals is one among my favorite memories of my time in India. The alleys seem really confusing, but will eventually lead you to the ghats or the larger streets, where you’ll find your way back to your guest house.
Bhang Lassi, Varanasi
Bhang lassi may be a concoction made from yogurt, cannabis, and spices. It tastes sort of a very earthy smoothie. Strengths vary greatly. We had ones that weren’t very strong but heard stories of individuals getting into a touch of a nasty way after drinking one. Bhang lassis aren’t just how to urge a legal high, they’re a crucial a part of Hindu culture. During some festivals, many Hindus drink bhang lassis.