15 Best Tourist Places in Varanasi
This ancient city, inhabited continuously for some 2,800 years (and counting), is one of the holiest places for Hindus. Devotees believe Varanasi is where they can break free from the cycle of rebirth and unite with the divine after death. The city is full of culture and is the holiest city in India. Renowned Indian writers like Tulsidas wrote Ram Charit Manas here. The city is known for its gold and silver thread work, wooden toys, carpet weaving, glass bangles, perfumes, a variety of handicrafts, and artistic brassware. Let us go through some of the most popular tourist places in Varanasi.
1. Ganga River
The Ganges River, which was named after the Hindu goddess Ganga, is one of India's most cherished natural wonders and is one of the world's longest rivers. The river flows southeast from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal, where it empties into the Indian Ocean. Around 600 million people depend on the Ganges River for their daily needs of bathing and drinking water respectively. Hindus go from all over the globe to Varanasi to cleanse themselves in the sacred Ganges water and to conduct rituals along the hundreds of ghats (washing stations) that line the river. When it comes to visitors, the river serves as a fixed point of direction for traveling about the city, and you'll spend a significant amount of time touring and taking in the views of life along the Ganges River.
Consider getting up early and enjoying a dawn ride down the river - bargain with one of the innumerable boatmen that hang out along the ghats to get a good deal on a boat. The purchasing of a tiny floating offering packed with fresh flowers and a candle and the releasing of the offering into the Ganges River are two of the most popular activities to do in Varanasi in the afternoon or early evening. Having this delightful experience will help you connect more deeply with Hindu culture and will be etched in your memory for years to come.
2. Dasaswamedh Ghat
The Dasaswamedh Ghat is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Varanasi because of its vibrant environment. In this bustling tourist attraction, you may find flower merchants boasting vibrant flowers, boat operators peddling tours along the Ganges River, and sadhus (holy men) decked up in colorful face paint. During the day, you may spend hours just walking about and people-watching.
At the Dasaswamedh Ghat in Varanasi, Hindu priests perform the Ganga Aarti every night, beginning at around 7 p.m. The priests, who are dressed in saffron robes, lay platters of flower petals and other gifts before blowing a conch shell to signify the beginning of the spiritual rite. For almost 45 minutes, thousands of visitors assemble to listen to the priests chant and wave tiered platters of sandalwood-scented incense in elaborate patterns before them. It's a lavish sight to see and one of the most popular things to do in the area.
You should get to the ghat at least two hours before the performance begins if you want to avoid the throng and secure a prime viewing position. In addition, from boats cruising along the river or from store balconies perched above the ghat, you may enjoy breathtaking vistas.
3. Assi Ghat
In terms of popular tourist destinations in Varanasi, the city's southernmost principal ghat is always near the top of the list. The main feature in Assi Ghat is a Shiva lingam (phallic symbol of the Hindu god), which is located under a holy fig tree. It attracts hundreds of pilgrims every day who come to worship Lord Shiva after bathing in the Ganges River.
Are you feeling a bit stiff after your travels? Take a stroll down to Assi Ghat at the crack of dawn, when you may join dozens of other people in practicing downward-facing dogs to live music every day during morning yoga classes. Additionally, in the evenings, tourists may see another Ganga Aarti performance at this location, which is somewhat smaller and more personal than the one at Dasaswamedh Ghat.
4. Manikarnika Ghat
At Manikarnika Ghat, plumes of smoke rise to the sky in a swirling motion. Rather than coming from a factory, it is derived from the constant cremations that take place on this ghat. Hindus believe that Manikarnika Ghat is one of the most auspicious sites for the souls of the deceased to attain moksha (liberation from suffering) (emancipation from the cycle of spiritual rebirth). Hundreds of cremations take place every day at this ghat, which is open around the clock. The funeral pyre burns around the clock.
Tourists are regularly approached by priests or guides who offer to walk them around the intriguing ghat; however, some might be pushy in their requests for money. Some Doms (members of an untouchable caste) may be seen carrying cloth-wrapped corpses on homemade stretchers, and mounds of firewood may be placed nearby, ready to be used as kindling for the pyre.
You may also be given the opportunity to see a cremation up and personal - for a cost, of course. Even while it is a deep experience, it is not for the faint-hearted, nor is it a typical tourist destination in the conventional sense. Keep in mind your boundaries, be courteous, and refrain from photographing funerals, mourners, or the recently deceased.
5. Dhamek Stupa
While Hinduism undoubtedly has a grip on Varanasi, Buddhism has a significant presence in the nearby town of Sarnath, which is less than 12 kilometers away. A large stone and brick building measuring 43.6 meters in height and 28 meters in circumference, you'll discover the Dhamek Stupa near the temple complex. The stupa was constructed more than 1,500 years ago as a replacement for a building that had been in existence since 249 BCE, according to legend. The faithful believe that the Buddha visited Dhamek Stupa after attaining enlightenment in order to deliver his first speech, which revealed the Eightfold Path, to the people. As you go around the stupa, have a look at the intricate carvings of birds, people, and flowers that decorate the walls of the structure.
Additionally, Sarnath has several additional tourist attractions that make it an excellent day trip option from Varanasi. Visit the Chaukhandi Stupa (a Buddhist shrine that dates back at least to the 6th century), then head to the Sarnath Museum to see the Lion Capital of Ashoka, a sculpture that used to sit atop the Ashoka Pillar in 250 BCE and was later designated as the official Emblem of India by the government in 1950. Last but not least, spend some time exploring the serene Tibetan Temple before making your way back to Varanasi.
6. Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple
A holy destination near the Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi, the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple attracts Hindu pilgrims and visitors who travel hundreds of miles to visit it. The Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple is around four kilometers from the Varanasi Junction railway station. The spectacular monument, which is devoted to the Hindu god Shiva, has gained the moniker "The Golden Temple" because of its stunning spire, which is plated in about 800 kg of pure gold and is the tallest structure in the world. Because of its remarkable style, this temple has served as an inspiration for the construction of hundreds of other temples across India.
Tourists are required to deposit their cameras, phones, purses, and other personal goods in a rentable locker nearby due to the strict security measures in place surrounding the complex. Take off your shoes and join hundreds of other people waiting to touch the 60-centimeter-tall Shiva lingam housed in a silver altar, which is said to cleanse the sins of those who come near it. It's a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience.
7. Banaras Hindu University
Since its founding in 1916, Banaras Hindu University has played an important role in the development of Varanasi's identity. A total of more than 25,000 students attend the well-regarded public institution, making it one of Asia's biggest residential universities. There are no hill stations in the vicinity of Varanasi, so if you're searching for a place to get away from the throng and the hustle and bustle of the city, come to this lovely 1,300-acre campus instead. The tranquil location is covered by hundreds of towering trees and provides a welcome respite from the bustling environment of the Banaras Ghats, which can be found nearby.
While on campus, pay a visit to the New Vishwanath Temple, a well-known temple that was ultimately completed in 1966 after a decade-long building process.
The temple, which stands 77 meters tall, is one of the highest in India, and it takes its architectural cues from the adjacent Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
Visitors to the institution should also make a point of visiting the Bharat Kala Bhavan, which is located on the campus's grounds. The cultural institution is home to a stunning collection of miniature paintings, as well as more than 100,000 additional objects of archaeological and aesthetic significance, all of which are on display.
8. Ruchika Art Gallery
Do you want to carry a bit of Varanasi with you when you go home? Looking for something unique to do? Visit the Ruchika Art Gallery, which is located just off Ravindrapuri Road. Ruchika Mehrotra, the gallery's owner, has created a warm, delightful shop in which to display a vibrant collection of paintings that capture the energy of Varanasi and the ghats in a rainbow of colors. Ruchika Mehrotra's gallery is located in the heart of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges.
While there are some bigger pieces that would need shipment, most of the paintings are small enough to fit in a suitcase and be used as keepsakes. There are also postcards available for purchase that are very lovely. In addition to presenting locally produced artwork, Ruchika Art Gallery offers visitors the opportunity to try their hand at painting during artistic classes. Get in contact with Ruchika to learn what events are scheduled during your visit to Varanasi during your stay.
9. Shri Durga Temple
Varanasi is home to a variety of spiritual activities that are not limited to the ghats. The Shri Durga Temple, located about a five-minute walk west of Assi Ghat, is a popular destination for Hindus who seek to pay homage to the goddess Durga. The 300-year-old temple is easily identifiable since it is painted brilliant crimson from top to bottom.
Monkey Temple is the temple's nickname, which provides you a hint as to what kind of critters you can see swinging about in this region. You may also see a pair of lovely swans swimming on the surface of a pool of water in front of the temple building.
10. Ramnagar Fort
Varanasi is one of the few Indian cities that does not have a fort, and it is no exception. Ramnagar Fort is located around 14 kilometers outside of the city core. Originally built as a defensive structure, the 18th-century sandstone fort and palace is now home to a quirky museum filled with vintage automobiles, elaborate hookahs, antique firearms, sedan chairs decked out in jewels, and a unique astronomical clock that has been in operation for more than 150 years.
After taking part in an archaeological treasure hunt at the museum, visit the fort's temples, one of which is dedicated to Veda Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharata and other key Hindu epics.
11. Darbhanga Ghat
Photographers should be aware that Darbhanga Ghat provides the ideal chance to capture breathtaking images of Varanasi. The ultra-luxurious BrijRama Palace, a historic fort that has been turned into a heritage hotel, stands at the top of the steps going down to the riverfront. The Greek pillars and curving balconies of the home provide a royal air to the surrounding region (and to your images).
Come early in the morning to get unimpeded views of the spectacular sunrise over The Ganges River.
12. Shivala Ghat
If you're looking for some peace and quiet along the Ganges, Shivala Ghat is a good location to stop by. It's not as busy as other riverside places in Varanasi, but it's still worth a visit. The absence of people at the ghat makes it easy to politely witness the faithful taking their customary baths in the holy river and the families gathered for prayers and tea in the early morning hours of the day. Do not be shocked if you end up sharing the space with water buffalo, who are known to congregate in the vicinity. In addition, you may view a palace that was erected by Nepalese monarch Sanjay Vikram Shah in the nineteenth century.
A few hours should be set out to explore the maze-like streets that lead up to Shivala Ghat. The densely populated area provides a look into the daily lives of residents in Varanasi's most affluent district.
13. Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
The Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, which is located on the banks of the Assi River, attracts hundreds of people each day who come to present sweets and flowers to the Hindu deity Hanuman, who is worshipped at the temple. According to legend, this temple was built on the site where Hindu saint and poet Goswami Tulsidas had a vision of the monkey deity, which inspired him to build it. When it comes to monkeys, keep an eye out for the mischievous critters that have been sighted jumping about the temple on several occasions.
The months of April and May are especially favorable for visiting this Varanasi destination. That's when the temple conducts its annual "Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh," a festival of classical music and dance presentations that takes place over a period of five to six days in the spring and summer. Participating in the almost 100-year-old festival brings together performers from all over the globe.
14. St Mary's Church
St. Mary's Church is next to JHV Mall, Cantt. The locality is 200 years old Christian religious attraction. The church was founded by Rev George Weatly in 1810. This particular church holds a beautiful and classic heritage, thanks to which it is also called as 'Church of England'. Queen Elizabeth II inspected this cathedral in 1960. Presently the church is no longer used to offer prayers. INTACH, or Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, has assumed the obligation to rehabilitate this heritage place and maintain it.
The construction of St. Mary's Church varies from the other churches in Varanasi. The architectural dissimilarity is highly evident and maybe noticed very simply. The church features a towering construction with a projecting entryway and modest towers. The canopy-like construction of the holy cathedral will undoubtedly fascinate the tourists. The church is situated relatively near to the Cantonment train station and may be accessed by vehicle, taxi, or cycle-rickshaw from many sections of the city. The Church is open from early 7 until evening 8. Christmas, Good Friday, and also Sunday are the finest time to visit the sacred institutions of the Christians.
15. Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum
When the Bharatiya Lalit Kala Parishad was established in a wing of the Godowlia Palace in Varanasi on 1st January 1920, it was the beginning of the realization of the plan for Bharat Kala Bhavan. After being relocated to numerous different places across Varanasi between 1920 and 1962, the museum's collection was finally established in the current structure in 1950 by Jawaharlal Nehru. The museum was subsequently relocated to its current location at the Banaras Hindu University in 1962. Mahatma Gandhi visited Bharat Kala Bhavan three times, and on his third visit, he wrote on the wall of the building, "the collection is extremely nice."
The Bharat Kala Bhavan is a university museum in Varanasi, India, and is situated on the campus of Banaras Hindu University. It has played a significant role in the transmission of information about Indian art and culture. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in both the Banaras Hindu University and the city of Varanasi, and it is open to the public.