India-0069
India-0069 by Dennis S. Hurd

Varanasi India – Top-10 Things to Do

Varanasi, or Benaras as we all love to call it, is a place to find peace. Varanasi may be the spiritual capital of India, but the opportunities for a tourist to get entertained and thrilled do not lack. From private and custom-made religious city tours to premium luxury experiences, Varanasi has something for everyone.

1. Visit the Shreenivas Ayurvedic Centre

Whether you want a cure to an ailment or just a relaxing massage, this ayurvedic centre (Goenka Gali, Dumarao Bagh Colony) enjoys great popularity. Try some of their signature herbal treatments to feel rejuvenated and energized. Note that it is not your average street massage parlour, but a more upscale affair.

2. Take a yoga class

When you’re in Benaras, you absolutely should not do without meditating and practicing yoga along the banks of Ganges. Vasistha Yoga (B1-243, Nagwa Road) has a rooftop studio overlooking the river, where they do sunrise and sunset Hatha Yoga. The setting is unbeatable – scenic and very meditative, ideal for relaxation and setting your mind in peace.

3. Take a morning boat ride

There’s really nothing better than taking an early morning boat ride along the holy river. The famous Ganga ghats at sunrise are a spectacular sights in themselves but you will also have a chance to witness morning rituals along the banks of the river. The best time to start is around 5am – well, yes, the early bird, you know. Don’t get scammed though, pay no more than INR 200 for two for a 1 hour boat ride.

4. Witness the aarti ceremony

It is an absolutely authentic and truly unforgettable experience. Head to the Dashashwamedh Ghat around 5 pm (aarti starts around 6 pm) and see how the offerings to the deities are carried out by the devotees along the river banks under the accompaniment of the aarti songs.

5. Visit the burning ghats

If you truly want to experience both life and death in Varanasi, visit the Manikarna or Harishchandra Ghat. Locals describe it as a fascinating experience to watch dead bodies burning and the rituals being performed around them. We would not go that far calling it ‘fascinating’ but it definitely striking and shocking for some. It may not be very appropriate to take photos during the ceremonies though.

6. Take a stroll along the many ghats

The true life and colours of Varanasi can only be experienced in the vicinity its numerous ghats. Every ghat serves a different purpose. While some are reserved for laundry, others are for cremating bodies and doing aarti.

7. Go street shopping

Shopping in Varanasi is a totally different experience you find in a usual city. No shopping centres – head straight to Vishwanath Gali and Thatheri bazaar, two great shopping hotspots. While in Varanasi, do buy local sarees. Benarasi sarees are famous for their gold and silver work and fine silk.

8. Go river rafting

Though it may sound a bit... contradictory, Varanasi is a great spot for this adventure. The only months when you can enjoy the adrenalin rush this experience gives to the fullest are February and March. It is during these months that a Ganga rally is organized for tourists to enjoy.

9. Hake a picnic at Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary

Very close to the city of Varanasi lies anunexplored treasure, Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary, where most locals and tourists go for a picnic. The best part about the place is the waterfall where you can bathe. We recommend visiting this place in the months of July and August as the weather is absolutely perfect around these months.

10. Visit the International Music Centre Ashram

Music lovers, you are not forgotten in Varanasi. Whether you want to take a class in a particular musical instrument (table, flute and sitar) or just see a performance, then you must visit this place. A music class will cost you INR 400 and the performances are held every Saturday and Wednesdays at 8 pm.