Varanasi is the oldest inhabited city in the world and it holds the most amazing stories along with the most mesmerizing aura. You must visit Varanasi to experience life-altering phenomena and the grandeur of the city itself. Here is a list of things you can do while in the City of Gods.
1. World Famous Ganga Aarti
Witness the World Famous Ganga Aarti on Dashawamedh Ghat– every evening offerings and prayers are made to the holy river Ganga for its life-sustaining powers. The ceremony is carried out by silk-clad young priests in a harmonious dance ritual. It is very enchanting to see them perform the ceremony. It is a must once you visit the city. If possible sit on a boat and enjoy the whole experience.
2. Sunrise in Varanasi
Wake Up with the City at Sunrise– the sun rises from the other side of the river and the view is mesmerizing. You can see how dedicated this city is towards its morning as they start fresh. You will find people meditating and doing yoga on the banks of the river. You will see people taking a dip in the holy river early in the morning. It always makes your mind fresh and so, of course, this should be on your to-do list. You can also enjoy Subah-e-Banaras in Assi Ghat, where you can start your day with some Indian Classical Music.
3. Temples in Varanasi
Visit the various Temples– the city is rooted by various temples, hence known as the city of Gods. Visit the temples and learn about their stories and how they affect the people of Varanasi. Do be sure to visit Kashi Vishwanath Mandir (the God of the World), Kaal Bhairav (God of Time), Sankat Mochan (the Monkey Temple) and several others if you are interested in either religion or architect.
Also read this: Unknown fact about Varanasi
4. Try local food in Varanasi
Drink the famous Lassi and Malaiyo– as you travel through the city you will find many cows. We worship them as our mother as they give us milk. Milk is a big diet for the residents of this city and many products are made out of it. You should try the Lassi and Malaiyo to understand what they are all talking about.
Try out the Street Food and the Cafes– the city is always full of tourists and we have lots of cafes and restaurants. The cafes have their own ambiance and they are a must-try. The good ones are mostly around Bengali Tola and Assi. You can also try out the street foods if you want. Kachori-sabzi and jalebi is the famous breakfast you can have here and in the evening you can try out the chaats and Bati-Chokha (from the Indian cuisine).
5. Take a Walk Through the Markets
at the heart of the city, you will find the main markets. They sell clothes, antiques, famous Banarasi sarees, handicrafts, items of worship and so many more things. Starting from Bengali Tola to the lanes of Vishwanath Mandir you can find the busy markets through the tiny lanes. Even if you are not interested in buying anything you will still find the walk worth a trip.
Walk Along the Banks of the River– the city runs parallel to the river and you can cover the whole length just by walking on the banks of the river. It will not take more than an hour to complete one trip if you do not stop for tea. This walk is quite refreshing as you find so many things to raise your curiosity level. You will see how people use the river; some take bath, some wash their clothes, some are just swimming, some are carrying out rituals, some rowing boats and earning, and some going beyond life and death (experience this at the cremation ghats). You can learn much about the city and life as well when you take this walk.
6. Go on a Boat ride to the other side of the River
when you get a bit tired of too many people in the city take a ride on the boat on the river and go to the other side of it. Enjoy the calmness, sit on the sand, and dip your legs in the water. Treat yourself with freshly grown vegetables like cucumber, watermelon, and others. Enjoy a horse ride or a camel ride if you want. But mostly see all of Varanasi ghats and enjoy the peacefulness.
7. Visit Sarnath and Ramnagar
visit Sarnath which is on the outskirts of the city. The place is known for Buddhism as Gautam Buddha preached his very first sermons to his five disciples. You can visit the temples, stupas, monasteries, museums and the deer garden.
Ramnagar is the City of Kings, which is located on the other side of the river. Visit the Ramnagar Fort, a part of which is open to the tourists and has been preserved as a museum for the belongings of the previous kings.Visit nearby picnic spots– visit Chandauli for the two waterfalls- Rajdari and Devdari waterfalls. You can also visit Windam Falls in Mirzapur for a picnic. You can visit Chunar for ceramic works as a day trip.
8. Try out Yoga and Meditation
if you are a yogi yourself try it out by the Ganga Ghats. If you are not, and interested you can join the Subah-e-Banaras yoga session (it’s free) at Assi Ghat. If you want an extensive session, go for the yoga and meditation classes.
9. Visit the University if you are missing greens
the city is crowded and can be overwhelming, so take a ride through the campus of Banaras Hindu University. The campus is lined with trees and the air is fresh enough to cleanse your lungs. Visit New Birla Temple at the center of the campus, try out tea and snacks or go for the cold coffee with icecream that all the university students opt for. You can also visit Bharat Kala Bhavan, the art gallery of the campus.
10. Attend the Festivals-
India is famous for its festivals. We celebrate something or the other every month of the year. Festivals like Holi and Diwali are celebrated here along with some which are only specific to this city. On Mahashivratri we celebrate Dhrupad Mela which is an Indian classical music festival held for three days. Dev Diwali is celebrated ten days after Diwali and is a festival where all the banks along the river are lined with lamps and the sight is captivating (also the crowd). Join the Ganga Mahotsav, a festival to celebrate the holy river Ganga with music, dance, and recitals.
There are a lot more things to do in Varanasi once you decide to stay in the city longer. And yes the city keeps calling you back! You will always have a longing to return once you experience the true magic of Varanasi.