Varanasi - The essentials! 

Tripoto
24th Nov 2018
Photo of Varanasi - The essentials! by Kaustav Sen
Day 1

Varanasi is one of those places which pull you for repeat visits. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world, a hotbed of Hinduism and has one of Asia's biggest universities, the Banaras Hindu University. The city obtains its name from the rivers, Baruna and Assi, which meet with the holy river Ganga in this city.

Places to visit

The ghats:

Starting from the Assi ghat to the Shri Panch Agni Akhara ghat, there are a total of 88 ghats in the river front. There are two cremation ghats, the Manikarnika ghat and the Harishchandra ghat, where an average of 80 people are cremated daily.

A walk on the ghats in the early morning air is invigorating and feels rather freshening. The Assi ghat is a good place to begin a ghat tour. One can walk the entire length of the ghats, and bypass the cremation ghats via bylanes easily. Do keep an eye out for amazing tea being made and served in the bylanes.

Photo of Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen

Assi ghat has amazing pizza joints which serve delicious pizzas. Do visit for sure.

The Dasashwamedh ghat is the well known ghat to be in the evening for the Arati ceremony being performed every evening. Make it a point to get to the ceremony zone well in advance to grab a proper space to enjoy. One can also rent a space on the boats which float on the river to get a front view of the entire ceremony. It is absolutely spellbinding.

Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple:

The temple is Lord Shiva's abode on this side of the plain. The temple is quite a big one, and draws an immense number of people. It is located very close to the Dasashwamedh ghat. The best time to visit the temple is in the early morning, when the crowd has not yet started filling in and the temple has been cleaned and it is still peaceful to be in. Do not miss this place.

The Banaras Hindu University:

The university is one of the premier institutes of this side of the hemisphere. There are a total of 124 different disciplines taught within the campus. They also have a museum housing various relics from all around the country through various different ages. An interesting place to be.

Sarnath:

Day 2

About 30 kms out of Varanasi is the holy Buddhist site of Sarnath. This is where the first sermons of Lord Buddha to his five disciples was delivered after attaining enlightenment. During the second century BC, Ashoka commissioned and had the Dhamek Stupa built. Also, the Ashoka Pillar and the Lion Emblem, which are of national importance are based out of Sarnath. During the 1970s, the ASI excavated most of the place to recover the buried relics and now, they are housed in a museum close by. The Sarnath temple is located nearby housing an amazing idol of Lord Buddha.

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen

Chunar and Ramnagar Forts:

Day 3

The Chunar fort was built by Sher Shah Suri, then taken over the Moghuls, followed by the British, then the Indian Army, and now, the ASI. It is at a strategic location having access to views from all sides. It is rumoured to have tunnels connecting till the Red Fort in Delhi, about 700 kms away. There is stepwell where one can access the water at multiple levels as it rises or falls as per season. The living quarters of the soldiers, are now used as classrooms.

Photo of Chunar Fort, Chunar Fort Road, Tammanpatti, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Chunar Fort, Chunar Fort Road, Tammanpatti, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Chunar Fort, Chunar Fort Road, Tammanpatti, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Chunar Fort, Chunar Fort Road, Tammanpatti, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Chunar Fort, Chunar Fort Road, Tammanpatti, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Chunar Fort, Chunar Fort Road, Tammanpatti, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Chunar Fort, Chunar Fort Road, Tammanpatti, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Chunar Fort, Chunar Fort Road, Tammanpatti, Uttar Pradesh, India by Kaustav Sen

The Ramnagar fort is basically a palace housing numerous cars and guns of the erstwhile king and his family. Both the fort and the palace can be easily covered in a day.

Photo of Varanasi - The essentials! by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Varanasi - The essentials! by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Varanasi - The essentials! by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Varanasi - The essentials! by Kaustav Sen
Photo of Varanasi - The essentials! by Kaustav Sen

Where to stay

Day 4

There is no dearth of places to stay in Varanasi. From cheap hostels to multi star hotels, there is something for everyone. I prefer the hostels, with Zostel being a favourite. Stay as close to the ghats as your budget allows.

How to get there

Varanasi has a couple of railway stations, but the number of trains which stop there are limited. The best way to get to varanasi via train is to get to Mughal Sarai (MGS). MGS functions as a node for important train corridors and is well connected to all parts of the country. Bus routes are available from all major cities and towns around. There is also the Lal Bahadur Shashtri Airport (VNS) which has regular flights operated by Indigo, Air India, Jet Airways, Thai Airways, just to name a few.

A word of caution to all the travellers in India, unless you are accustomed to the place, kindly carry your own water bottle and water, or buy sealed water bottles only. Do not drink water out of the tap. Street food is safe, if you see it being freshly prepared, and a large crowd is consuming it. Carry mosquito repellants, and flashlights.

Good luck and cheers!

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