A pious yet flamboyant Varanasi under 2100 INR

Tripoto
23rd Mar 2018
Photo of A pious yet flamboyant Varanasi under 2100 INR by The_Budget_Backpacker

Getting to Varanasi : It takes around 12 hours to reach Varanasi from Delhi by train. There are very few buses that ply between the destinations and it takes a whooping 14-15 hours to reach which gets very exhausting. We took an overnight train (Sleeper class) from Delhi and reached Varanasi around 11 am in the morning. The ticket costs us 450 INR and it is around 420 INR for the return journey on a different train. I was a bit relieved to find OLA cabs to be available there and it made easy for us to book the cab to our booked place.

Where to stay: Being a backpacker I always prefer hostels as they are affordable and clean. Moreover you can always make new friends. We stayed in Zostel Varanasi which is at a walking distance from the main Gowdawli Chowk and a 20 minute cab ride from the station. They have a quaint rooftop restaurant where you can also have a view of the bustling city. The wall arts inside the hostel comprises of Hindu and Buddhist dieties and many religious symbols which gives a soothing feeling.

Photo of Zostel Varanasi, Kamlapati Tripathi Nagar Colony, Sidhgiribagh, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Zostel Varanasi, Kamlapati Tripathi Nagar Colony, Sidhgiribagh, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Zostel Varanasi, Kamlapati Tripathi Nagar Colony, Sidhgiribagh, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Zostel Varanasi, Kamlapati Tripathi Nagar Colony, Sidhgiribagh, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Zostel Varanasi, Kamlapati Tripathi Nagar Colony, Sidhgiribagh, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Zostel Varanasi, Kamlapati Tripathi Nagar Colony, Sidhgiribagh, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker

City of Varanasi : It is one of the oldest and sacred cities in India. The city is broadly divided into two main portions. The one consists of vibrant and busy place around the Ghats and the other comprises of Varanasi Cantonment which is more urban. The main hub is Gowdawlia chowk where one can find restaurants, souvenir shops, travel agencies and obviously many guides who would almost torment you to find boat rides and massages.

The Ghats and the Boat ride : A trip to the Ganges will make you speechless and you will have new experiences around every corner of the Ghats. Ganges are not only a place of worship but also a place of livelihood for millions thriving in the city. It is a junction for massagers, street vendors, religious people and Baba's who throng the stairs of the Ganges. It is not advisable to stroll in the Ghats during late hours of night because of hooligans plying around and also there is open usage of weed(called prasad by the locals). There are an array of temples and shrines crowding the entire border of Ganges. The graffiti on the walls gives the Ghats a very flamboyant and cheerful vibe. One can find painters and artist around dawn creating magic on the walls of the Ghats.

Even though there are options of boat ride from the morning to the late hours of night but it is recommended to try the morning boat ride because in that one can witness many different activities along the banks of the ghats. The rides will cost you around 150 INR for a 3 hour ride. You can find people praying in waist deep waters, teenagers jumping into the water from the stairs, people worshiping and flowing diyas on the waters and plethora of people meditating. One of the disturbing sights are the Burning ghats in close proximity of other ghats. This place is considered to be very sacred and people believe to get into heavens if they are cremated here. One can find the whole staircases of such Ghats bundled with woods for the pyre.

Photo of Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker

In the evening you can witness the famous Ganga aarti in the ghats. Though this ritual takes place in every ghat but the grand one is performed in the Assi Ghat. Do take a seat before because it gets really crowded during the ritual. Photographers can get some nice shot during the ritual.

Photo of Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker
Photo of Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker

Things to try : There are plethora of street to gorge on including Bhaang Lassi, Banarasi Paan, street food in the ghats, Fried idli and kachori. Please follow the link to find all the best street food and where to find them in Varanasi.

https://www.tripoto.com/trip/6-street-foods-you-should-not-miss-in-varanasi-5ac5ecc347e7e

Body massages are a dope in this city. With costs ranging from 150 INR to 500 INR they have wide range of oils to soothe your nerves. You can find many on the ghats or if you are living in one of the hostels, you can ask the staff to help you find some. Believe me it is a pleasure worth indulging in.

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Photo of Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker

If you are one of those guys who love to cherish the dying cultures of the country - do visit the Akharas in Varanasi. They get closed by 9 in the morning so make sure you plan your day accordingly. One can find thinly cladded muscular guys fighting against one another in the dusty sands.

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Photo of Hanuman Ghat, Ghat, Near Shivala Ghat, Bangali Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by The_Budget_Backpacker

Though this is not advisable but if you get friendly with some of the sadhus or babas , you can give a try to the potent marijuana. Don't fear them , they are actually nice people and do bow in front of them with a smile and they will definitely oblige you.

No matter if you believe in religion or not , I would recommend you to visit Varanasi for the sake of its pluralism, vibrancy and colorful aura.

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