Varanasi Travel Guide
Area: 1,535 sq. km. (592.67 sq. mi)
Language: Hindi, Bhojpuri, English, Urdu
State: Uttar Pradesh
Currency: Indian Rupee
Time Zone: UTC + 5:30 (IST)
Religions and Beliefs: Hinduism, Islamism, Jainism and Buddhism
Varanasi, also known as “Benares”, located in the southeast of Uttar Pradesh, North India, is the “capital” of Hindus’ spiritual world. Very close to Ganges, Varanasi is a place where countless believers, ascetics and dying people come to bathe or wait to be cremated for purifying their souls. Varanasi has many famous temples and sites, among which the Ganges River and Ghats are the most popular. Besides, Sarnath, the holy land where Shakyamuni first preached Buddhism, is only 8 km (5 mi) away from Varanasi. Without exaggeration, in Varanasi you will see the great contradiction in the spiritual and material needs of Indians. The holy and profound spirit but chaotic and frowsy material are reflected incisively and vividly in this city.
Banaras Hindu University
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Tulsi Manas Mandir
Located on the left bank of the Ganges, Varanasi, as a Hindu holy land, boasts over 1,500 temples with various architectural styles. For your Varanasi travel, the first unmissable attraction is the Ganges River, not only the sacred river of Hinduism, but also the place where Buddhism rose in the past. Dashashwamedh Ghat is the most popular Ghat of all, where you can enjoy the splendid Hindu ceremony - Ganga Puja in the evening. Sarnath, one of the four sacred places of Buddhism, offers you the ancient stupas and an archaeological museum to visit. Also, don’t forget Durga Temple and Banaras Hindu University.
As a northern city of India, Varanasi is divided into three seasons of cool, hot and rainy. October to March belongs to the cool season, the best time to visit Varanasi, and tourists can expect pleasant weather with less rainfall, sunlight and mild temperature. While in the night, it can be a little chilly with the lowest temperature of 5 ℃ (41 ℉). If you plan a Varanasi travel during this period, you can wear thin and breathable cloths like dress and cotton fabrics in the daytime and prepare some warm clothes like woolen sweaters and padded pants for cold nights.
Folks living Varanasi are quite proud of their delicacies like sweet food and street snacks. Kachori Sabzi is the best breakfast to start your Varanasi travel. Kachori, a crispy puff pastry stuffed with lentils and spices, is usually served with Sabzi - potato curry. Tamatar Chaat is made up of tomatoes, potatoes and coriander, mixed with green chilies and topped off with deep-fried crisps. Babarasi Paan, a special street food that needs to spit out after chewing, is a mixture of betel and nut with sweet and spicy flavors. More Varanasi food you should try include Malaiyyo and Jalebi…
Pizzeria Vaatika Café: B 1/178, Assi Ghat. This pleasant café offers vegetarian pizzas and varieties of Indian dishes. Italian and Western simple foods are also available. The apple pie and ice cream are highly recommended.
Tadka: Hotel Ramada Plaza JHV, Cantonment. With an elegant environment, Tadka provides an open kitchen for guaranteeing fresh and homemade dishes. Various diet options for guests: vegetarian, halal, kosher and gluten-free.
CBowl of Compassion: 32/162, Devnathpura, Bengalitola Lane. The rooftop restaurant with a gorgeous sunset view has the most delicious authentic Indian dishes like Kofta and Thaali. Also, you can enjoy a cozy yoga class to relax.
The Old Town: 66%
The New City: 14%
Banaras Hindu Univ: 13%
The Old Town is beside the Ganges River where many spots are concentrated like Ghats and Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The hotels are mainly scattered along the Ganges, offering you a stunning sunrise view, such as Ganpati Guest Hotel and Alka. With a peaceful environment, some tourists choose the New City to stay. Only 3 km (1.9 mi) away from the Old Town, it’s convenient to sightsee. Banaras Hindu University District gathers various classic architecture like the Golden Temple. The Hotel Temple On Ganges is popular where you can enjoy a beautiful river-view and comfortable recreational facilities.
Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Varanasi operates domestic flights and international flights from LA, Milan, Madrid and Manchester. Usually, travelers visit Delhi first and then transfer to Varanasi. If by air, it takes about 1.5 hours; if take trains, the time from Delhi to Varanasi takes around 12 hours. The main railway stations in Varanasi are Varanasi Junction Railway Station and Mughal Sarai Station (MSG). The former one has a special Foreign Tourist Assistance Bureau, and it costs about 150 rupees to take a taxi from the downtown area. MSG is about 14 km (8.7 mi) south of downtown Varanasi and usually takes near 1 hour to arrive due to the serious congestion.
For Varanasi travel, rickshaw/auto is the most convenient mean of transportation. Its price for a single way generally takes Rs25 within 2 km and it costs Rs8 per km for the subsequent distance. The driver will charge for the carriage of large luggage at Rs.7.5/piece. Besides, the best way to visit the Ganges is by boat, usually Rs50-100 / hour (2-3 people).
Bala Ji Handicraft: Bhadhani Assi, near Assi Ghat, Varanasi. Located in an alive area, Bala Ji Handicraft is a quite bustling market including all kinds of handmade goods like jewelry, incense, statues and silks.
U.P. Cottage Emporium: B1/229 Assi, Varanasi. The market is a large-scale supplier for retail, wholesale and export. Here you can choose various cheap items with a high quality, such as wooden art products, woolen fabrics and jewelry.
The Bed Silk & Pashmina: B1/153 Ganga Math Assi, Varanasi. This place provides you with a wide selection of high-quality silk, Pashmina, bed sheets and fabrics.
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