Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India. Located in the Northeastern province of Uttar Pradesh, the city draws thousands of pilgrims to it every year to bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges River and to perform funeral rites. It’s extremely crowded, and one of the best travel experiences you can depart on. If you’re thinking of visiting the Golden Triangle, be sure to add a few days to your trip to visit Varanasi. There are daily flights from Delhi and we’d hate for you to miss it.
Here are 5 things you need to do when you visit Varanasi, India.
1. Take a morning boat ride on the Ganges
The sunrise and sunset are celebrated in Varanasi every day. In the morning, crowds gather to chant and practice yoga along the riverbank and welcome the sunrise with a cup of chai. Hire a boat in the early hours and take in the sunrise from the water. You’ll surely see some of the 2,000 plus temples on the riverbank as you float down the river and take in the daily happenings.
2. Visit Blue Lassi
Lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit, and it’s best enjoyed at Blue Lassi in Varanasi. It’s an institution in the city – serving happy customers for almost 80 consecutive years. Photographs of past customers line the walls, and there are plenty of flavors to choose from. We recommend pomegranate and honey.
3. See the Flower Market
No trip to Varanasi is complete without a visit to the bustling flower market. You’ll see beautiful flowers laid out and being haggled over every day of the week, especially if there’s a festival coming up (which you’ll soon learn, there almost always is).
4. Take a Food Tour
If you’re new to traveling India, navigating your food options can be challenging. That’s why we recommend starting your trip to Varanasi with a half-day food tour. You’ll learn about the cuisine, where the local hot spots are, and taste some of the most amazing samosas and chat the city has to offer. You’re much less likely to experience the dreaded Delhi-Belly on one of these tours, the guides won’t steer you in the wrong direction.
5. See the Ghats
There are so many Ghats to see when you visit Varanasi, and while they’re each very special, you absolutely must experience a visit to the Manikarnika ghat. Individuals cremated at Manikarnika are said to escape the cycle of reincarnation, and families from across the country visit every day to say goodbye to their loved ones. It’s overwhelming and somewhat shocking, but it’s an experience you’ll never forget that provides a unique perspective into the culture in Varanasi. Pictures are not allowed here out of respect to the 200 people a day who are cremated at the ghat.