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Things to do in Varanasi

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Varanasi had grown as an industrial centre on account of its production of fine silks, muslin, ivory handicrafts, sculptures and lots more colourful goodies running in the thread counts, the craftsmanship and the traditional trade. Significant for the relevance it has lent to Buddhism in its ancient past and being a hub for Hinduism in the present day, has all made the city highly significant religiously as well.

How to reach: You can either fly down to Varanasi or travel by train to reach your destination.

Best time to visit: November to February

If you are visiting Varanasi, here some places for you to visit and things for you to do:

  1. Sunrise Boat Ride 
Sunrise Boat Ride
Source: https://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/India/North/Uttar_Pradesh/Varanasi/photo862560.htm?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=5c8f8630a8e68bca53c5eeee82e531d7a5b52839-1594813071-0-AWaz9Is4igSNJMfqiy2e2yRdpE32dZNwz3zT1vQhjSwurUJpDYrzOwKblyCs3RQs2CqTDqTCQwsKPwOVzdUpdpUm1Y9x3anxaHDlFA9qPwyopPCVTdoqzIG4MU9UoEcIEUHm1Rq5EWyytRDJ-NmLsBZd8bLhQn2YBNBd_Fy78RD2VNApkb00hsCAfGw20p7a2rg-g5HidTu-0tjRNXyh2OQVXGZJ_QFwnECyQsFBGUPPyeX4x_zj0YDYz0JkX4_ZeydSUBuqhi7b3KC_kVbtk0IswrK0dNbv1aGFIxMqcKbH21NQv3UApuKRIc46YI8ca0E1yJ-aLCIRgh_-zvFs4bofX_L4raCed9nGf6JgEOj6

 Read about things to do in Kolkata here!

What one must not be mistaken about while visiting Varanasi is the fact that the city is not a picture of serenity and quiet, it is instead a picture of massive crowds, lots of noise and somehow there is a sense of peace within it all. It is the promise of such a peace that sees throngs of travellers visiting Varanasi from across the world. While the Ganga remains rampantly crowded with tourists for the most part, if you just push your sleepy self enough to wake up at the crack of dawn, then you’re in for a treat. Take a sunrise boat tour in the Ganges to gaze at the city as it starts to awaken slowly under the Sun. The prayers commence, the people at places begin to start their day and there’s you in the boat observing it all from a boat that meanders slowly to make its way.

2) Ramnagar Fort

Ramnagar Fort Varanasi
Source: http://www.ramadajhvvns.com/blog/2018/03/01/what-is-the-story-behind-ramnagar-fort/

 The true joy of travelling in India is how different places can offer such different experiences. While some parts of our country have us exploring the best of what nature has to offer, there are others which are rich in their history. These places have seen wars, conquerors, civilizations and cultures run into each other, overlap and eventually amalgamate into a vibrant city that stands today. The Ramnagar Fort is a display of that in Varanasi. Approximately 18kms away from the main city, the fort was built in the 18th century by Maharaja Balwant. While royal titles have been abolished under formal practice, the local parlance continues to refer to the present Pelu Bheru Singh as maharaja. Walk around the fort to learn of the history that this city has seen.

 3) Watch the Ganga Aarti in the evening

Ganga Aarti Varanasi
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ganga_Aarti_in_evening_at_Dashashwamedh_ghat,_Varanasi_03.jpg

 Surely, one of the most famous things from Varanasi are its ghats. With about 88 ghats on the banks of its river, taking a stroll around these is a visual experience of indulging into the culture that has grown and evolved in Varanasi. The Ganga aarti is deemed to be one of the most beautiful things to see in the entire city. Priests dressed in similar dhotis carry out identical brass lamps and perform an aarti daily. The beauty of it is in the perfect synchronization with which they perform the aarti with the lamps lit up with fire. Darbhanga Ghat is one of the best to view this. Performed on a daily basis, the aarti lasts for about 45 minutes. Personally, if you are planning a trip specifically for Varanasi, I would urge you to visit during the Deep Diwali which is held annually towards the end of the year. During the festival, each of the ghats has pandits performing the aarti together, all 88 of them, as if the banks have themselves come alive!

 4) Head to Sarnath

Source: https://mytriphack.com/varanasi-sarnath/

Sarnath is crucial to Buddhism. The Buddhist influence here spanned from the 3rd to 7th century. It is famous on account of the fact that Lord Buddha visited this place and spoke of the concept of dhamma which is intrinsic to the practice of Buddhism. Lord Ashoka is known to have built a number of stupas here after he followed the path of Buddhism. Back in the 7th century, Sarnath housed over 1500 monks! A half-day’s long visit here will have you wondering about the ancient times this place has seen.

5) Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Kashi Vishwanath Varanasi
Source: https://www.pilgrimaide.com/temples/kashi-vishwanath-temple-varanasi

Since Varanasi is regarded highly as both, a religious and a spiritual hub, if you find yourself tempted to go pay your respects, you can visit the famous temple of Kashi Vishwanath. It is believed that the original temple was actually broken down during the tyranny of Aurangzeb, following which a mosque was built in the area. However, in 1780 a Maratha ruler by the name of Maharani Ahilyabai Kolkar was credited for having the present-day temple rebuilt.  Legend has it that once Lord Vishnu and Brahma were fighting over being more supreme than the other. To settle this debacle, Lord Shiva pierced the world with a jyotirlinga, an endless pillar of light and asked the two to find the end. While Brahma lied about having found it, Vishnu accepted his defeat. But Shiva appeared as a second pillar of the jyotirlinga himself, catching Brahma in his lie and telling him how he would not be prayed in aartis while Vishnu would.

6) Assi Ghat

Assi Ghat Varanasi
Source: https://www.holidayiq.com/Assi-Ghat-Sightseeing-Photos-Varanasi-588-9782.html

 While there are a number of ghats in the city of Varanasi, the one whose name is taken even outside the city is Assi Ghat. People from all age groups frequent this ghat. They bathe in the waters of River Ganga which is believed to purify them of all their past sins and is intended to keep them clean and bring them goodwill for their next life. For the robust richness of customs, practices and beyond, amidst Varanasi’s business this is the ghat for you to visit. Maybe you could interact with a priest or two to learn more about their way of life and what they get to witness through it.

 7) Bite into the food and get set for some shopping!

Varanasi Street Food
Source: https://traveltriangle.com/blog/restaurants-in-varanasi/

Click here to check out some of the best cafes in Varanasi!

Have you really explored a city if you have not explored its food? I simply adore how different parts of our country have us drooling over different dishes. In /Varanasi, you will find chaat corners just about everywhere. Hot paranthas and kebabs pop up to fill your tummy. Meanwhile, the influx of tourists has led to rooftop cafes peeping out as well where you can head to enjoy the evening air with a cold beverage and some scrumptious bites.

Read about things to do in Andhra Pradesh here

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