Varanasi.

Tips for your trips. Tourist information. Official websites.

Varanasi (map), once known as Benares or Banaras and Kashi, is a city at the banks of the Ganges river. Being the most sacred city in Hinduism and Jainism, and important in the history of Buddhism, Varanasi is India’s most important pilgrimage destination.

Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with settlements dating back to the 11th century BC. Many Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi brings salvation/nirvana and so they make the trip to the city when they realise that they are close to death.

The scene of pilgrims doing their devotions in the River Ganga at sunrise set against the backdrop of the centuries-old temples is probably one of the most impressive sights in the world.

Also сheck оut мore info: Visit Uttar Pradesh

Varanasi is not a city with distinct tourist destinations; the experience is in watching the spectacle of life and death on the river and meandering through the alleys of the old city. Note that many streets are too narrow to be reached by cycle-rickshaw, auto-rickshaw, and car and therefore, you may have to walk a bit to reach your destination. >> *List of tourist attractions in Varanasi

Ghats and the River Ganges. The River Ganga is a sacred river for the Hindus and you will see traditional rituals and bathing occurring at all times of the day. The western crescent-shaped bank of the River Ganga is flanked by a continuous stretch of 84 ghats, or series of steps leading down to the river, stretching for 6.8km.

The most interesting area to stay is around the ghats, which are the main attractions for foreigners and are close to the religious attractions. However, this area is extremely noisy and many accommodation choices here are subpar, so do some research before you book. Cheaper hotels and hostels can be found around the “Assi ghat” and train station areas, check hot water and wifi for yourself.

*Assi Ghat (map). A popular place for tourists, long-term students and researchers to stay, with many hotels, restaurants, and internet cafes nearby.

*Manikarnika Ghat (map) the main cremation ghat; a must-see, but remain quiet and never take photographs.

*Dashashwamedh Ghat (map) known as the ‘main’ ghat, this is the site of the large evening aarti ceremony. The ceremony starts right after the sunset and lasts for around 45 minutes.

Kedar Ghat (map) brightly painted in stripes and busy with bathers, very photogenic.

Harishchandra Ghat (map) the cremation place where Raja Harishchandra did the last rituals of his son.

*Alamagir Mosque (map). Overlooking Panchganga Ghat, it’s a great place for a bird’s eye view of the area.

The *Bharat Mata Mandir (map) temple at Varanasi is the only temple dedicated to Mother India. It is located in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth campus. The most peculiar thing about the Bharat Mata Temple is that instead of the customary gods and goddesses, it houses a relief map of India, carved out of marble.

*Durga Temple (map). Built in 18th century, Durga temple is made as a tribute to Goddess Durga. It is also one of the well known temples in Varanasi.

*Sarnath (map). It is believed that in Sarnath Buddha gave his first sermon to his disciples after getting enlightenment. There is also a Museum in Sarnath (map). The exact location is also known as Deer Park. Sarnath is 13 km from Varanasi and is very peaceful. Several Asian countries have built Buddhist temples there following their own ancient architectural traditions.

Shri Kashi Vishwanth Temple (The Golden Temple, wiki, map). Security is tight making entrance difficult and sometimes completely off limits to foreigners. No bags, cellphones or pens are allowed.

*Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple (Sankatmochan Mandir, map). Sankat Mochan Temple is dedicated to the Lord Hanuman. This temple is also called as the Monkey temple because of the presence of lot of monkeys inside the premises. It is one of the holy temples of the Lord Hanuman and the main location for Hindus for their many religious as well as cultural festivals.

 !  There is, rather understandably, some resentment at tourists tresspasing up to the cremation ghats for raucous sightseeing at the funeral ceremonies of loved ones. Behave respectfully and do not take photographs of cremations, even from the river. You can take photographs if it is from a distance; most do not mind. There are touts who for a fee will “stop minding”. Note that if it is the family that objects then you have to respect it but not if local touts object in the interest of extracting money.

 

Public transport.

Information about all types of public transport.

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There are multiple daily services to cities including Delhi (13 hours), Agra (13 hours), *Lucknow (7 hours), *Mumbai (25-27 hours), *Kolkata (12-14 hours) and Siliguri (14-16 hours).

BUS: Redbus • Travelyaari • Buskiraya • myticketbuddy. Reliable carriers: Raj National Express • KPN Travels. While you can’t take a cross-country bus ride across India, buses are the second most-popular way of travelling across states and the only cheap way of reaching many places not on the rail network (e.g. Dharamsala)

TRAIN: irctc.co.in ⇒ Railways were introduced in India in 1853, more than one and half a century ago by the British, and today India boasts of the biggest network of railway lines in the world, and the rail system is very efficient, if rarely on schedule. It is one of the safest ways of travel in India.

AIRPORT: Chhatrapati Shivaji AirportIndira Gandhi Airport • Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Airport • Dabolim Airport. Domestic flights, the main operators are: Air India (Discover India) • Air India Express • Air Asia India • IndiGo • Go First • SpiceJet • Vistara.

Varanasi – Cinematic travel film.

Varanasi, the oldest city with no shortage of characters and colours. I made this cinematic travel film to show you what it felt like to step in to a different world, to see a culture which has been preserved for thousands of years still alive and well today.

I loved my time here, it’s like a creatives heaven full of inspiration, my favourite part was hanging with the Sadhu’s (holy men) talking to them and learning about their way of life. For me this is what travel’s about, learning and connecting with others, making memories and finding more of yourself out there in the world.

video source: Ben Mikha / youtube.com /

Useful websites.

Links to additional resources with useful information for planning your trip.

VISAS & IMMIGRATION.

Apply for a visitor visa. Find out what document you need to travel, visit family and friends, do business, or transit through India.

YATRA.COM.

We are a leading online travel company in India providing a ‘best in class’ customer experience with the goal to be ‘India’s Travel Planner’.

Indian Food.

If you”re planning to visit India and want some more information about Indian food, then this Indian food guide can help.

YATRA.COM: We are a leading online travel company in India providing a ‘best in class’ customer experience with the goal to be ‘India’s Travel Planner’.

INDIAN CULTURE: Recognizing the ongoing need to position itself for the digital future, Indian Culture is an initiative by the Ministry of Culture. A platform that hosts data of cultural relevance from various repositories and institutions all over India.

Art & Culture: This section offers comprehensive information related to cultural heritage, ancient monuments, literary arts, visual arts, schemes, programmes, performing arts, fairs and festivals and handicraft of India. Detailed information on various organizations involved in promotion and propagation of Indian art and culture is also available in this section.

Museums of India: National Portal and Digital Repository for Museums of India.

National Digital Library of India – One Library All of India.

The One-Stop Guide to Indian Food: Indian food is very different from western food and can seem a little intimidating from an outside perspective. If you”re planning to visit India or just want some more information about Indian food before visiting your local restaurant, then this Indian food guide can help.

Restricted / Protected Area: Travel in much of the North-East (with the notable exception of Assam) and parts of Andaman and Nicobar, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand will require obtaining a *Protected Area Permit (PAP). The easiest way to get one is to request it along with your visa application, in which case it will be added to your visa.