Varanasi, Benaras, or Kashi, whatever you call it, for they say love has no name. One simply cannot just see Banaras but smell it, wander in its streets and listen to the stories they have been telling since the 11th century, making it one of the oldest cities in the whole world. You can smell different religions in its narrow ancient streets. Benaras resides in many religions in itself and reflects the love through its streets.
So here are the top 15 things you should do in Varanasi:
1. Dashashwamedh ghat
It is one of the oldest and holiest ghats of Varanasi. According to some old priests, Lord Vishnu sacrificed ten horses on this ghat, hence the name Dashashwemedh (Dasha – ten, Ashwa – Horses, Medh – Sacrifice). It is also believed that Lord Brahma created this ghat to welcome Shiv. Also called the Main ghat, this ghat attracts tourists and pilgrims from around the world. The famous Ganga Arti takes place every evening.
2. Ganga aarti
The most mesmerizing thing about Benaras is Ganga Arti. It is not only a treat for your eyes but also your soul. And it should not be missed at any cost. Ganga aarti tradition goes back thousands of years. It is believed that this aarti was held to welcome Lord Shiva in Kashi.
It religiously takes place at the main ghat in the evening (around 6 pm in winter and 7 pm in summer).
The smell of incense, smoke, chanting sound of mantras, and lighted candles will cleanse your soul. It feels like a fire dance at the tone of different mantras. Near the end of this aarti, the smoke and smell from the candles and incense engulf the whole atmosphere, which will leave you stunned by the beauty of the Ganga river and the aarti itself.
3. Assi ghat
Although it is not very famous among foreigners, it holds importance among Indian pilgrims. It is said River Ganga and river Assi meet at this ghat; hence it got its name. Many pilgrims from all over India take dips here to wash away all their sins.
Taking a boat ride is something that must be right at the top of everyone’s to-do list. Take a boat ride at the crack of dusk and watch as the city unfolds its beauty through its different forms. You will find people sitting around ghats, chilling; some worshipping and some taking dips, and some simply just enjoying the River Ganges.
Or you can take a long walk along the ghats early morning and watch the beauty of the sun as it shines upon you. You can also take the boat at this hour and go to the other side of the Ganges and silently watch what this city gives you in the form of beauty.
5. Manikarnika ghat
Kashi is said to be the place of birth and death. This ghat is believed to be the biggest cremation ground in the world. It will give you chills. Hindus believe that cremation on the banks of the river liberates the soul from the cycle of death & rebirth; it is advised to see the cremation from a respectful distance. The scene will leave you with a strange and eerie feeling that will make you appreciate the tradition and celebration of Hinduism even more.
You will also find some amazing cafes on these streets. Give some treats to your tongue and taste some authentic cuisine from across the world in these cafes. Some must-try cafes are Monalisa cafe (famous for its Iranian cuisine), Bona cafe, and Pizzeria Vatika cafe.
7. Scindia ghat
This ghat is near Manikarnika ghat; it is famous for its partially submerged Shiva temple, which is believed to be sunken around 1830 during the construction of the ghat. Since it is nearly impossible to visit all the ghats of Varanasi, the above-mentioned are the must-be-visited ghats. Some other famous ghats that could be visited are Chet Singh Ghat and Kedar Ghat.
Read also – Top 15 Ways to Manage Money in a Better Manner
The narrow ancient streets of Benaras are something everyone should get lost in. Lose yourself in these streets, in their diverse culture, and, most importantly, in their stories, and find yourself all over again.
The Bread of Life Bakery & Restaurant is famous for its freshly baked bread and muffins. Also, part of their silk shop above goes to a local charity. Brown Bread Bakery is known for its rolls, bread, muffins, and pizzas.
Varanasi is not only the city of Hindus but also many other major religions. It is believed that Buddha founded Buddhism here and gave his first sermon here in Sarnath, which is around 10 km from Varanasi.
11. Dhamekh stupa
This stupa stands exactly where Buddha first taught Dharma after receiving Bodhisattva. It was this place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon when he attained enlightenment. It has very fine architecture.
12. Chaukhandi stupa
This stupa marks the exact location of the spot where Buddha met his first disciples. It is known for its aesthetics. The beauty of this stupa is astonishing. It is one of the famous historical as well as tourist places in Varanasi.
13. Archaeological museum
The famous Sarnath Archaeological Museum is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. This museum houses the famous Lion Capital of Ashoka and India’s National Emblem, along with many artifacts and manuscripts related to Buddhism.
14. Ayurvedic medicines
Varanasi is a hub of ayurvedic medicines. Here, medicines are made from natural herbs and medicinal plants. These medicines have no side effects on the human body and are used to treat various serious ailments.
Another captivating thing Varanasi is known for is its pure silk. It produces one of the finest quality silk materials in India. It has different varieties of the finest saris. It is best known for its silver brocade or gold brocade saris. Zari work of the truest quality is also done here. Varanasi is the best place to buy fine silk and explore different embroideries.
Thus, Varanasi is a hub of many beautiful places to visit. For centuries, arts, philosophy, culture, education, and religion have flourished here. When you visit the religious center of Benaras, you’ll see what fuels the city and keeps it vibrant.
As it is said, ‘When in Benaras, do what Benarasiyas do.’ Come, explore the whole of Benaras from dusk to dawn, and treat your soul.
Read also – Top 15 Book-To-Movie Adaptations