Banaras: Top 5 things to do

Tripoto
8th Feb 2020
Photo of Banaras: Top 5 things to do by Pooja Khandelwal

I am glad that, I am left on a high (don't take it literal ;)) with lots of memories to cherish and live through the lock-down, after my trip to Banaras!

I am a god loving person and one of the things in my to-do list is to complete the 12 Jyotirlingas (12 temples of Shiva spread across India - This was my 11th one!) :).

Though I travelled to Banaras mainly to visit Kashi Vishwanath temple, however ended up loving city for the below top 5 reasons! These can easily be a good enough reasons/things for someone to visit this truly incredible city for sure :)

1. Never ending Ghat Strolls

This tops my list! These interconnecting ghats on the river Ganga, makes the most calm, serene, spiritual and fulfilling walk on the planet, by the day or night. Don't be a lazy bum in Banaras, go and walk around the ghats as much as you can :)

Dashashwamedh Ghat - Just after Kashi Vishwanath darshan :)

Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

One of the things I enjoyed the most during my Strolls - Enjoying with these dogs, while their food being prepared by a samaritan

Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

A view from Shankaracharya Ghat

Photo of Shankaracharya Ghat, Unnamed Road, Ghats of varanasi, Bangali Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Assi Ghat - The last ghat of one end

Photo of Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Assi Ghat

Photo of Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Pandy Ghat: Just at the doorstep of our hostel

Photo of Pandey Ghat, Bangali Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Beautiful lights on the ghat - Look at those tree, how thoughtfully preserved while paving the area

Photo of Pandey Ghat, Bangali Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

2. Serene Views of Ganga

If you can, stay in a room with a view, or a place with an access to the terrace with a view. Trust me, you will thank me for doing this later :)

I stayed at the top floor room with a balcony in "On The Ghat By Howdy Hostels" on Pandey Ghat and had a best experience staying with them.

View from our balcony. We spent few hours here, soaking up the views of vast Ganges, monkeys playing around and buzzing ghats

Photo of Banaras: Top 5 things to do by Pooja Khandelwal

Another view from the balcony- just before the sunset. Look at those boats laden with tourists, enjoying an evening ride

Photo of Banaras: Top 5 things to do by Pooja Khandelwal

Sunrise from the bed: People taking a morning ride in Ganges

Photo of Banaras: Top 5 things to do by Pooja Khandelwal

3. The Grand Ganga Aarti

Even though you hate being in crowds, you will definitely enjoy this grand Aarti, perfectly synchronized chanting of mantras and the rituals, colourful lights all around, ocean of people on the ghats as well as on the boats parked in the river chanting the aarti and mantras synchronously with the priests, is clearly a sight to behold!

Try to get yourself a seat closer to the aarti so that you can enjoy the whole process peacefully as this runs for a while.

Get settled well in advance to enjoy the full process.

Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Notice the priests doing aarti - well synchronized, isn't it? I lived the full moon equally in this pic :)

Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

People enjoying Ganga aarti from the boats

Photo of Dashashwamedh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat Road, Ghats of varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Do take a boat ride in the evening to feel being close to holy water of Ganges, a beautiful sunset and the Ganga Aarti from the front seat

Shop on the go - A boat selling diyas for Ganga aarti

Photo of Ganga River Bank, Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

A sunset on the other side of the Ganga

Photo of Ganga River Bank, Ghats of varanasi, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Manikarnika Ghat - considered as one of the holiest cremation grounds among the sacred riverfronts (ghats), alongside the river Ganga

Photo of Manikarnika Ghat, near Lalita Ghat, Ghats of varanasi, Lahori Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Ghat views from the boat: all the hustle, bustle, away from the crowds

Photo of Manikarnika Ghat, near Lalita Ghat, Ghats of varanasi, Lahori Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

4. Finger Licking Food & Themed Cafes

Even if you are not a foodie, you just won't be able to resist the food, when you are in Banaras. There are famous places for chaats, Lassi (not to mention the special Bhang Lassi), Paan and of course endless recommendations for small cafes by the ghat!

Kashi Chaat Bhandar - You will have to visit multiple times to taste everything they have to offer - Just mind blowing!

Photo of Kashi Chat Bhandar, Girja Ghar Chauraha, Badadev, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Bhang Lassi at famous Mishrambu ;) : Don't be very greedy when he asks how much bhaang you want in your lassi, else you might end up messing up with yourself

Photo of Kashi Chat Bhandar, Girja Ghar Chauraha, Badadev, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Maliao is another dish which you can only get in Benaras: You can eat many cups in one go, as it is as light as cotton made up of the dew overnight

Photo of Kashi Chat Bhandar, Girja Ghar Chauraha, Badadev, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Lucy's Cafe at Pandey Ghat: If you can do try it. It has a lovely decor and amazing views of Ganga

Photo of Lucy's Heritage Cafe, Pandey Ghat, Bangali Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

5. A visit to Sarnath

Sarnath is 10 kilometers from Banaras and is definitely worth a visit. This is the place where Gautam Buddha first taught dharma.

It is also famous for the "Lion Capital of Ashoka", which is currently in display in Sarnath museum. It is the current emblem of India.

Besides there are many buddhist temples dedicated to Japan, Thailand and various other countries which you can visit while in Sarnath.

Us at Sarnath Temple

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Sarnath Temple from inside

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

The famous Bodhi Tree - Gautam buddha first taught dharma here

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Prayer bells in the compound

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

The Japanese Temple in Sarnath

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Peaceful - Do spend some time sitting here if you have some free time

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

A newly built Japanese Temple

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

The Archaeological Park Sarnath - Do not forget to visit the Sarnath Museum just outside the park housing "Lion Capital of Ashoka"

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Dhamek Stupa

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Large Buddha Statue in Wat Thai temple -Sarnath

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

Kashi Vishwanath Temple - Banaras Hindu University

Photo of Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal

That concludes my 3 days trip to this spiritual city that has so much to offer than just temples!

PS: Visit https://travelascetic.com/ to read more about me and my travel journeys 🙂

Happy me: Darbhanga Ghat

Photo of Darbhanga Ghat, Bangali Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India by Pooja Khandelwal