Varanasi, also known as Kashi or Banaras, is one of the oldest and most sacred cities in India. Located on the banks of the Ganges River in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is a city of contrasts, where ancient temples and holy rituals coexist with modern life and bustling streets. A trip to Varanasi can be a life-changing experience, where visitors can witness the city’s rich history and spirituality firsthand.
When planning a Varanasi trip, there are several things to consider, including the best time to visit, accommodation options, sightseeing opportunities, cultural experiences, safety, and transportation.
Best Time to Visit
Varanasi can be visited year-round, but the best time to visit is during the cooler months from November to February when the weather is pleasant and comfortable. The average temperature during this time ranges from 10°C to 25°C, making it ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities. However, visitors should be prepared for foggy weather in the early morning and late evening, which can affect travel plans.
Varanasi offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget, from budget hostels and guesthouses to luxury hotels and resorts. Some of the best places to stay in Varanasi include the areas around the ghats, which offer stunning views of the Ganges River. Popular budget options include HosteLaVie, goStops Hostel Varanasi, and Shree Ganesha Palace. For mid-range hotels, consider Hotel Surya, BrijRama Palace, and Hotel Alka. Luxury options include The Gateway Hotel Ganges, Nadesar Palace, and Taj Ganges.
Varanasi is home to numerous historic and spiritual landmarks, including the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Sarnath, and the ghats along the Ganges River. Visitors can spend days exploring the city’s rich history and culture, immersing themselves in the sights, sounds, and smells of Varanasi. Some of the top things to see and do in Varanasi include:
Kashi Vishwanath Temple: This ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the most revered temples in India. Visitors can witness the daily aarti ceremony, which involves offerings of light and water to the gods and goddesses.
- Sarnath: Located just outside Varanasi, Sarnath is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. Visitors can explore the ancient ruins, including the Dhamek Stupa, and the Sarnath Museum, which houses a collection of Buddhist artifacts.
- The Ghats: Varanasi is known for its many ghats, which are the steps leading down to the Ganges River. Visitors can take a boat ride along the river and witness the morning and evening aarti ceremonies, which are a powerful and moving spiritual experience.
Ramnagar Fort: Located on the eastern bank of the Ganges River, the Ramnagar Fort is an impressive 17th-century structure that houses a museum of vintage cars, swords, and guns.
Varanasi is known for its rich cultural heritage, and there are many opportunities to explore this through food, music, art, and dance.