One of the holiest places for Hindus in the world, this ancient city of mythological tales, ghats, and temples, also draws thousands of tourists and spirituality seekers, throughout the year. You can pay obeisance to the gods and goddesses, obtain spiritual enlightenment, purify your soul, or simply marvel at its architectural magnificence.
Featured below are the top 3 things in Varanasi which every tourist or devotee must do to make one’s trip visit-worthy:
1. Explore the Ghats!
There are about 84 ghats and the steps of their staircase open into the water of the holy river Ganga. Only Manikarnika ghat and Harishchandra ghat are the cremation grounds while the remaining ghats function as bathing and praying ghats. All these ghats are associated with some mythological tale, historical event, or both. You will find these ghats teeming with sadhus, devotees, priests, tourists, and beggars, all the time.
- Take a holy dip in river Ganga– According to Hindu legends, taking a bath or dip in the river Ganges will wash away your sins and purify your soul.
- Go on a boat ride– To experience the religious significance and spiritual significance of this holy city, you should hire a boat to move along its magnificent and bustling ghats. You will surely feel a surge of inner tranquility and divinity within yourself as you watch afar, the various religious activities taking place at the ghats.
- Walk along the ghat– This is another alternative to exploring the ghat via boat ride. Simply take a stroll along the ghat’ premises to feel and enjoy its unique ambience. You should check out Dasashwamedha Ghat first as it is situated close to the world-famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple and the most-preferred hub for performing religious activities.
- Watch the amazing evening Aarti– This daily ritual is one-of-its-kind religious ceremony which will live you feel blessed apart from giving you mental peace, irrespective of which religion you belong to. It generally takes place in the evening after 6 pm, by a group of priests who walk down the steps of the ghats. Heavy and large brass lamps are used during the Aarti accompanied by loud religious chants and wonderful scents of countless burning incense sticks. The devotees then light and leave earthen lamps in the water, illuminating the river’s water surface in the process. The whole scene is a definite visual treat for everyone’s eyes!
2. Go Sightseeing!
After spending time at ghats, you can go to various nearby temples and monuments with historical significance. The whole city is dotted with many big and small temples dedicated to various Hindu deities. Some of the most popular Hindu shrines are Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Durga Temple, and Nepali Temple. These temples are architectural beauties and they house equally-magnificent idols of their presiding deities. If you are interested in palaces, fortresses, or other historical monuments, then you should definitely check out Ramnagar Fort.
Raja Balwant Singh built this structure in 1750 as the residence for the royal family of Varanasi. This palatial dwelling now has a museum where royal family’s heirlooms, furniture, vintage cars, and paintings are kept on display for visitors. In fact, there is an armory hall displaying an impressive collection of Indian and foreign swords and old-style guns. Unsurprisingly, this place is a favorite of many film makers who come here to shoot numerous scenes for their movies.
3. Become A Shopaholic!
Varanasi is renowned for its fine silk clothes, embroidered traditional wear, ornate bangles, and idols of deities. There are several local marketplaces where you can discover and buy these items. However, the best places for shopping are Vishwanath Gali, Godaulia, Thatheri Bazar, Gyanvapi, and Chowk. If you want to buy brass items then you must travel to Thatheri Bazaar and you can go on a silk dress-buying spree at Temple Bazaar in Vishwanath Gali.
Moreover, you can attend this city’s various annual religious festivals and cultural fairs, namely, Maha Shivaratri, Navaratri, Ramleela, Bharat Milap, and Dhrupad Mela. The latter festival is a 5-day musical event which is attended by eminent artists and tourists, alike. Held in the month of March, this annual festival takes place at the well-maintained Tulsi Ghat.