Destination Varanasi— A Quick Guide for New Tourists

    If you’ve obtained your India visa for tourism and you’re planning a trip to the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism, known as Varanasi, City of Lights, Benares, Banaras, or Kashi, you need to take a moment to read this reference guide we put together for new travelers.

    However, even if you’ve visited this popular tourist destination in the past, you might be doing yourself a huge disservice in passing up this article.

    About Varanasi

    The ancient city of Varanasi is one of the holiest cities in India and it is located on the banks of the holy Ganges river. Witness the awe-inspiring rituals of life and death that are displayed as bodies are cremated along the holy river. Hindus believe that dying here releases the deceased from the cycle of death and rebirth and the ritual is not one to be missed while in India.

    Varanasi is located on the banks of the Ganga river in Uttar Pradesh, about 200 miles south-east of Lucknow, the state capital, and lies along National HIghway 2. It is believed that around 528 BC, Buddha founded Buddhism here and Varanasi has blossomed into a destination known for its muslin and silk fabrics.

    The city is rich in history. In 2014, archeological excavations found artifacts in Varanasi dating back to 800 BC. However, even more impressive is that projects in the nearby cities of Ramnagar and Aktha revealed artifacts dating all the way back to 1800 BC.

    When to Visit Varanasi

    In the summer months, from April to June, you can expect temperatures ranging from a mild 72 ̊ to 115 ̊ F (22 ̊ - 46 ̊C) and the most popular times to visit are February and March. In the winter, between December and February, Varanasi can experience some rather extreme weather changes within a 24-hour period, with warm days and cold nights when temperatures can drop to 41 ̊ F (5 ̊ C). 

    So be sure to take a good coat.

    Places to Visit While in Varanasi

    No matter if you’ve been to Varanasi before or you’re completely new to visiting India as a tourist, this list of sites will help ensure that you don’t miss a thing.

    • Kashi Vishwanath - also known as The Golden Temple, the history of this shrine can be traced back 3500 years and is definitely a must see.
    • Tulsi Manas Temple - another can’t miss, this temple has white-marble walls covered with the text from Tulsi Das written Ramcharitramanas.
    • Durga Temple - also known as Monkey Temple, and you simply have to put it on your list of places to see. Dedicated to the Goddess Durga, the temple has a large population of monkeys, hence the aka name, and if you are a non-Hindu, you’re allowed to enter the courtyard of the shrine but not the inner sanctum itself.
    • New Vishwanath Temple - a temple complex that consists of 7 temples located on the premises of Banaras Hindu University.
    • Kathwala Temple - believed to have been built by King of Nepal and a popular attraction due to its exquisite woodwork and awe-inspiring architecture.
    • Bharat Mata Temple - located on the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth Campus, this temple is one of a kind and is another must see.

    If You Have Time

    Lastly, depending on how long you’re visiting Varanasi, here are a few dozen places you may want to stop by.

    • Dasawamedh Ghat
    • Assi Ghat
    • Alamgir Mosque
    • Ahilyabai Ghat
    • Tulsi Ghat
    • Manmandir Ghat
    • Manikarnika Ghat
    • Harishchandra Ghat
    • Shivala Ghat
    • Scindia Ghat
    • Darbhanga Ghat
    • Lalita Ghat

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