14 Best Things to Do in Varanasi: A Detailed Guide

 In Places To Visit, Things to do, Travel, Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi

India is a country known for its Vibrant diverse, rich, cultural heritage, history and stunning natural beauty. It is a land of varied landscapes, from the Himalayan mountains in the north to the serene beaches of the south and which will make you confused about where to plan your next trip North India or South India. Every part of the country is infused with a sense of spirituality and an atmosphere of love irrespective of its religious beliefs. As the great leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee once stated 

“Yeh vandan ki dharti hai, abhinandan ki dharti hai.
Yeh arpan ki bhumi hai, darpan ki bhumi hai
Yahaan ki nadi nadi hamaare liye Ganga hai,
iska kankar kankar hamare liye Shankar hai”

Spirituality flows in the air. The Country is also known for its colorful festivals, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re exploring the ancient city Varanasi or the city of Nizam’s Hyderabad, it offers an unforgettable experience for every traveler on their Indian trips.

Now let’s talk about Varanasi- Shiv Ji Ki Nagr, Before delving into the details, let’s say together, “Har Har Mahadev…”

There are many places to visit in Uttar Pradesh, and Varanasi is one of them which is also known as Kashi or Banaras, and is one of the most ancient and culturally significant cities in the world. This holy city is on the banks of the River Ganges is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the spiritual heart of India. Here is a detailed guide on the best things to do in Varanasi  to ensure you have an unforgettable experience in this timeless city.

1. Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat


One of the most famous things to do in Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is attending the Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat. This daily ritual is a stunning display of devotion and celebration, where priests perform synchronized ceremonies with fire, incense, and chanting Vedic Mantras and witnessing this is an eye catching experience that should not be missed. If you are visiting Varanasi for the time then it is one of the must to do things.

There is a small mythological stories about the Dashashwamedh Ghat. It is said that lord Brahma created this Ghat for inviting lord shiva and another one is that Lord Brahma sacrificed 10 horses in sanskrit and hindi ( Das Ashaswas ), to perform yajna. Every evening Priests perform Ganga Aarti and witnessing that aarti is a sacred thing that should not to be missed.The experience of witnessing the aarti while the Ganges flows beside you is truly awe-inspiring. 

2. Boat Ride on the Ganges


Holy river that flows in Varanasi adds a beautiful bliss to the city. A boat ride on the Ganges is one of the best things to do in Varanasi. This serene journey gives you the opportunity to take in the scenic views of the ghats and witness the city’s daily rituals from the water and it is one of the best experiences which you will cherish for a lifetime. 

Don’t miss the Morning and evening rides offer the most magical experience of the sunrise or sunset which paints the sky. Best time to take a boat ride for Sunrise is 5.30 Am to 8.00 AM and the sunset ride is during the aarti.

3. Visit Manikarnika Ghat – Burning Ghat


Another important Ghat is Manikarnika Ghat. Visiting this Ghat is a profound experience one should not miss. This is the most sacred place where the primary cremation rituals are done around the clock. Manikarnika Ghat is also the birthplace of the fearless queen of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmibai. 

Visiting Manikarnika Ghat will give us insight into the human life cycle. Most of the people come to Varanasi in their old age to die here and be cremated here to get the liberation (moksha). It is believed that if we take a holy dip in this holy ghat in the afternoon time around 12 Pm, we will not have the rebirth (Punarjanma) . This is also one of the must to do things in Varanasi.

4. Visit Kashi Vishwanath Temple


The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the oldest, richest, and holiest revered shrines in the country and is a must-visit when considering things to do in Varanasi. The temple commemorates Lord Shiva and is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India. Marvel at the temple’s intricate architecture and soak in the spiritual atmosphere, the domes are made out of pure gold and when you walk through the gates you can hear the sound of the holy river Ganges flowing calmly. This temple has been demolished and reconstructed many times. Hence, this temple is not only an eminent pilgrimage site but also a prominent historical place in the country.

Having a sparsha darshan of lord Shiva is one of the most blissful and Sacred things to do as a couple or family to start the spiritual journey. Sparsha darshan is available in the early morning at 4 am and in the evening at 4 pm.

There are also many other temples to visit in Varanasi among the most important ones are

  •   Kashi Vishalakshi Temple
  •   Durga Temple
  •   Annapurna Temple
  •   Kalbhairav Temple
  •   Mritunjay Mahadev Temple
  •   Sankatmochan Hanuman Temple

5. Visit all the Ghats Of Varanasi – spiritual tour


Varanasi has a total 84 ghats with the steps accessing the river for bathing. To visit the ghats you can take a boat ride and have a Spiritual tour of the ghats knowing their significance and mythological story related to it. Visiting this ghats on river Ganges is one of the best things to do and if you are taking the ride in evening time around sunset then this might be one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world that you will cherish for a lifetime. If you want to take a dip in holy river Ganges then take a dip by saying “Har Har Gange” 

6. Walking In The Narrow Lanes Of Varanasi


Walking in the narrow lanes of Varanasi will take you to the old times. The lanes are narrow and are packed with centuries-old temples, vibrant bazaars and local eateries. Exploring these streets allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s unique atmosphere and uncover hidden gems and temples around every corner. 

You can find the old buildings in the lanes that are winding the streets and will get the best photographs of Varanasi in these narrow lanes from your trip. It’s one of the top things to do in Varanasi for those seeking a true taste of the city.

7. Stroll Along the Ghats In the Night


The ghats of Varanasi are an iconic part of the city. A stroll along ghats at the time of sunset is the most unique thing to do in varanasi and gives you the most ​​magnificent view of the holy city as the sky turns into shades of orange. 

Take a leisurely stroll along the ghats in the night times to observe the calmness of the river and ghats from the bustling activities of locals and visitors alike in mornings and immerse yourself in the spiritual city. If you want to experience the people performing religious rituals to the vibrant scenes of daily life, the ghats offer a captivating experience in the morning.

8. Visit Banaras Hindu University


Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is one of the oldest universities in India.The structure of Varanasi Banaras Hindu University has a high rank amongst the Monuments in Varanasi.

It is an esteemed institution that offers more than just education. There is a famous museum named Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum located in the campus. 

The museum showcases several artifacts, sculptures, paintings, and jewelry collections from the past. The recent attraction to BHU is the New Vishwanath Temple which is an exact replica of the original Kashi Vishwanath Temple and it is a beautiful eye-catching Marvel, making it one of the top things to do in Varanasi for cultural and historical exploration.

9. Discover Sarnath


Sarnath is 10 km away from Varanasi. It is a significant Buddhist site where Buddha delivered his first sermon. Exploring Sarnath’s temples, stupas, and museum provides insight into the region’s ancient history and spiritual heritage. It’s one of the best things to do in Varanasi with family for a peaceful and educational outing.

There are  beautiful Buddhist structures, most of them are ruins, you will find some intact which makes it perfect for peaceful strolls and scenic photography. From the Dhamek Stupa, Dharmarajika Stupa, Chaukhandi Stupa which were built during the reign of Emperor Ashoka. 

10. Explore Ramnagar Fort


India is a historical place and you will find lots of forts in every city and While thinking of forts our minds take us to Rajasthan. Varanasi also has such a beautiful fort Ramnagar Fort, located across the Ganges River, offers a glimpse into Varanasi’s royal history. Some part of the fort houses a museum showcasing an array of artifacts, including vintage cars, weapons, and textiles.

The royal family stays there, whose residential quarters are separated from the rest of the fort. Inside the fort you will find two temples worshiping Lord Hanuman and Veda Vyasa.One of the things to do when you visit Ramnagar Fort is visiting the Saraswati Museum. An array of vintage American cars, sedan chairs, and ivory works adorn the museum and It’s a great destination for history enthusiasts and families alike.

11. Visit Tulsi Manas Temple and Ghat


Tulsi Manas Ghat, also known as Tulsi Ghat, stands as one of Varanasi’s renowned riverbanks. Named after the esteemed poet Tulsidas, this ghat holds a significant place in local lore. Commissioned in the 18th century by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore, Tulsi Ghat exudes historical charm and architectural grace. It is said that Tulsidas’s divine encounter with Lord Rama at this very spot inspired the creation of the Ramcharitmanas, an esteemed Hindu text. 

Tulsi Manas temple is constructed on the very same spot where Tulsidas had the vision of SreeRama and got the same as Tulsi Manas Temple and stands as a testament to Tulsidas’s vision and devotion. While Speaking of Tulsidas and his devotion towards Lord Ram in Varanasi, UP we can not miss the Darshan of Ayodha Ram.

Beyond its religious significance, Tulsi Ghat offers breathtaking vistas of the sacred Ganga river. Visitors flock here to partake in rituals, immerse in the holy waters, or simply bask in the tranquil ambiance along the riverside.The temple is a serene and significant cultural site, making it one of the best things to do in Varanasi for literature and history lovers.

12. Where is Weavers village in Varanasi ?


Varanasi is famous for its exquisite silk sarees and handloom work.The sarees are famous by the name of Banarasi sarees. These sarees are woven in the village called Sarai Mohana village near Varanasi. It is just 5 kms away from Varanasi.

Banarasi silk sarees are made by these waivers and are one of the finest sarees in the country. In every Indian women’s wedding wardrobe you will find one banarasi silk saree.

In the village Sarai Mohana village, you can learn the craftsmanship, their lifestyle and different designs for the sarees. 

Each saree design would be different from other weavers in the village and to finish one saree it takes 15 to one month or sometimes more that to complete. If you want to experience something different then this is one of the unique things to do in Varanasi.

13. Attend a Music or Dance Performance


Varanasi is renowned for its classical music and dance traditions and dramas. Attending a live performance is one of the best things to do in Varanasi for anyone interested in experiencing the city’s rich artistic heritage.

Varanasi Ramnagar Ramleela is considered to be the oldest and famous in the entire world for its performance. It is held in the month of October every year during the dussehra festival. If you were visiting Varanasi in the time of dussehra and don’t miss to watch this iconic Ramleela. During festivals Varanasi transforms offering a unique and vibrant atmosphere that immerses you in its distinct charm. The most important festivals celebrated in Varanasi are Mahashivarati and Dussehra….. But the holi festival also gives a different vibe.

14. Local Cuisine – Exploring the flavors for the taste buds


Exploring Varanasi’s local cuisine is one of the unique things to do in Varanasi. Treat yourself to traditional dishes like kachori sabzi, samosa, and the famous Banarasi paan. 

Varanasi boasts numerous spots where you can indulge in delectable street food, treating your taste buds to a culinary adventure.For a sweet treat, try the delectable malaiyyo, a frothy winter delicacy and don’t forget to have the lassi and thandai.

Well, with the end of this blog, I hope you have enjoyed the Virtual ride Varanasi that offers an abundance of things to do in Varanasi which cater to every interest, from spiritual journeys to cultural immersions. Exploring  the city with an open heart and mind to truly appreciate its timeless beauty and deep-rooted heritage. So Plan Your Visit to Varanasi – Shiv Ji ki Nagari and immerse yourself in the spirituality and heritage by saying the name of Har Har Mahadeva.

Can I visit ghats at night?

Yes, you can visit the ghats in Varanasi at night. The illuminated ghats offer a serene ambiance, perfect for experiencing the city’s spiritual essence under the moonlit sky.

What are the best local markets in Varanasi for shopping?

Varanasi is renowned for its vibrant markets offering a wide array of traditional items. Some of the best local markets to explore for shopping in Varanasi include Vishwanath Gali, Thatheri Bazaar ,Godowlia Market,Dasaswamedh Gali,Lahurabir, Gyan Vapi.Exploring these markets offers an authentic glimpse into Varanasi’s rich culture and craftsmanship.

How can I experience the rural side of Varanasi?

Experience the rural side of Varanasi by taking a boat ride to nearby villages along the Ganges, where you can witness traditional life, interact with locals, explore farms, and discover the simplicity and beauty of rural living.

What are the best parks or green spaces in Varanasi?

The best parks and green spaces in Varanasi include Ramnagar Fort Park, Assi Ghat Park, and Rajendra Prasad Ghat Park, offering serene environments for relaxation, leisurely walks, and enjoying the natural beauty along the Ganges.

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