Varanasi, ancient city by the Ganges' flow, Where spirituality and history beautifully glow, In sacred ghats and temples, stories unfold, A timeless charm, in Varanasi, is forever told.
Varanasi, also known as Banaras or Kashi, is a sacred city located on the banks of the Ganga River. Popular for its cultural significance, the majestic aura of Varanasi feels like a heavenly abode of God on earth. There are many beautiful places to visit in Varanasi known for their divine tales and magical aura. It is a pilgrimage destination for Hindus, who believe that bathing in the Ganges here cleanses the soul. The city's bustling streets are adorned with ancient temples, ghats (steps leading to the river), and vibrant markets. Varanasi is famous for its captivating Ganga Aarti ceremonies, which draw throngs of devotees and tourists alike. Its timeless aura and spiritual allure make it an unforgettable destination, where ancient traditions coexist with the contemporary world.
Best Places to Visit in Varanasi: One of the Oldest Continuously Inhabited Cities in the World
Varanasi, India's spiritual heart, offers a mesmerizing blend of ancient culture and divine mystique. The city is famed for the iconic Ganges River, where pilgrims gather at sunrise for spiritual rituals and boat rides. Dashashwamedh Ghat is a must-visit, hosting a vibrant evening Aarti ceremony that illuminates the soul. Sarnath, a short drive away, is where Buddha delivered his first sermon, and the Dhamek Stupa stands as a poignant reminder of this historic event. The narrow, winding alleys of Varanasi's old town hide hidden gems like the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and the exquisite architecture of the Ramnagar Fort.
In Varanasi, every corner reveals a piece of India's rich history and spiritual heritage, making it an unforgettable destination for seekers of both culture and enlightenment.
Here are the top places to visit in Varanasi for an enthusiastic holiday delight:
- Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple
- Assi Ghat
- Dashashwamedh Ghat
- Manikarnika Ghat
- Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir
- Ramnagar Fort
- Durga Temple
- Shri Satyanarayan Tulsi Manas Mandir
1. Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple: The Heavenly Abode of Lord Shiva
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most sacred Hindu temples in the world and a must-visit destination in Varanasi. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it's renowned for its historical significance and spiritual aura. The temple's origins date back to ancient times, with the current structure built by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in the 18th century. The divine temple is adorned with a stunning gold-plated spire and a sanctum sanctorum housing the holy Jyotirlinga, a symbol of divine energy.
According to the Shiva Purana, Lord Shiva himself chose Varanasi as his dwelling place, making the temple a focal point for devout pilgrims. Shiva once resided in a sacred mango tree at this very spot. To protect the tree, the Supreme God disguised himself as a mendicant. However, King Raja Harishchandra, in a twist of fate, ordered the tree to be cut down, revealing Shiva's presence. Upon realizing his error, the king built a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, marking the inception of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Pilgrims flock here to seek blessings, perform rituals, and witness the mesmerizing Ganga Aarti ceremony on the ghats nearby, creating a profound connection to India's spiritual heritage.
Location: Varanasi, India, on the banks of the Ganges River
Timings: Open from dawn to dusk, with daily rituals and aarti ceremonies
Places to Visit Near Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple:
- Ghats along the Ganges for spiritual rituals and ceremonies.
- Sankat Mochan Temple, known for Lord Hanuman's shrine.
- Tulsi Manas Temple, a historic site with engraved Ramayana scriptures.
- Banaras Hindu University, a renowned educational institution and cultural hub.
Things to Do Near Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple:
- Attend the mesmerizing aarti ceremony at the temple
- Explore the vibrant ghats and witness spiritual rituals
- Immerse in the rich history and culture of Varanasi
- Seek blessings and experience the spiritual aura of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple
2. Assi Ghat: One of the Best Places to Visit in Varanasi
Varanasi is one of the best places to visit in India to explore the divine culture. Assi Ghat, one of the most iconic ghats in Varanasi, India, is a vibrant and spiritually significant place along the banks of the Ganges River. According to the Shiva Purana, this historic ghat is known for its ancient connection to Lord Shiva, who is said to have roamed here with his consort Parvati. Named after the Assi River, this ghat is believed to be where Lord Shiva discarded his sword after conquering the demon Shumbha-Nishumbha. It's also associated with the legendary poet Tulsidas, who is said to have written the divine epic Ramcharitmanas here.
It's a hub of religious activity, attracting pilgrims, sadhus, and tourists alike. The ghat offers a serene atmosphere for meditation and yoga, and it's also known for hosting cultural events and festivals. The steps of the ghat provide a panoramic view of the Ganges, especially during sunrise and sunset, making it one of the best places to visit in Varanasi during night for those seeking spirituality and a glimpse into India's rich heritage.
Location: Assi Ghat is in Varanasi, India, at the confluence of the Ganges and Assi rivers
Timings: It is open throughout the day, with mornings and evenings being particularly serene
Places to Visit Near Assi Ghat:
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple, a divine Hindu shrine
- Tulsi Manas Temple, known for its Ramayana inscriptions
- Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, dedicated to Lord Hanuman
Things to Do Near Assi Ghat:
- Attending the Ganga Aarti ceremony at the ghat
- Engage in yoga and meditation by the river
- Explore the narrow alleys and vibrant culture of Varanasi
- Click panoramic photographs
- Take soothing dips in the river
Suggested Read: Best Places to Visit in Vrindavan: Where Legends of Lord Krishna Come Alive with His Melodious Flute
3. Dashashwamedh Ghat: Indulge in the Divine Culture
The Dashashwamedh Ghat, nestled along the sacred Ganges River in Varanasi, India, is one of the city's most prominent and ancient ghats. Its name translates to "the Ghat of Ten Horses”. According to ancient lore, Dashashwamedh Ghat is believed to be the very spot where Lord Brahma conducted the ten-horse sacrifice (Dashashwamedh Yagna) to welcome Lord Shiva back from exile. This act of devotion sanctified the ghat, making it a divine pilgrimage site for Hindus.
Famous for its daily Ganga Aarti ceremony, which is a mesmerizing spectacle of devotion, the Dashashwamedh Ghat offers a breathtaking view of the river. It has been a spiritual and cultural hub for centuries, encapsulating the essence of Varanasi's timeless traditions and is one of the best places to visit in Varanasi with family.
Location: Dashashwamedh Ghat Rd, Ghats of Varanasi, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001
Timings: The ghat is accessible throughout the day, but the best time to visit is during the Ganga Aarti ceremony in the evening, typically around 6:45 PM
Places to Visit Near Dashashwamedh Ghat, Banaras:
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple, a revered Hindu shrine, is in close-proximity
- Manikarnika Ghat, the renowned cremation ghat, is nearby
- The historic Old City of Varanasi with its narrow lanes and vibrant culture is within walking distance
Things to Do Near Dashashwamedh Ghat:
- Witness the captivating Ganga Aarti ceremony at Dashashwamedh Ghat
- Explore the ancient temples and spiritual sites in the vicinity
- Immerse in the rich heritage and bustling markets of Varanasi's Old City
Suggested Read: 12 Jyotirlingas in India: The Ultimate Source of Divine Grace
4. Manikarnika Ghat: A Profound Symbol of Life and Death in Hinduism in Banaras
One of the best things to do in India is meditating and relaxing near the Ghats of holy Ganga. Manikarnika Ghat, situated on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi, India, is one of the oldest and most significant cremation ghats in Hinduism. Its name derives from a mythological story that Lord Shiva dropped his earring (manikarnika) here during a celestial battle.
This sacred ghat operates 24/7, as it is believed that cremating the dead here grants moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirth). The ghat is a profound symbol of life and death in Hinduism and a place where ancient rituals continue to be performed with unwavering devotion. It offers a poignant glimpse into the spiritual traditions and beliefs deeply rooted in India's cultural heritage.
Location: Manikarnika Ghat is situated along the Ganges River in Varanasi, India
Timings: The ghat is operational 24/7 for cremation rituals and visits
Places to Visit Near Manikarnika Ghat:
- Dashashwamedh Ghat, known for its evening Ganga Aarti, is nearby
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple, a revered Hindu shrine, is within reach
- The ancient streets and spiritual sites of Varanasi's Old City are in close proximity
Things to Do Near Manikarnika Ghat:
- Witness the cremation rituals at Manikarnika Ghat, respecting local customs
- Attend the mesmerizing Ganga Aarti ceremony at Dashashwamedh Ghat
- Explore the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of Varanasi's Old City
5. Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir: Where Saint Tulsidas Got Darshan of Lord Hanuman
The Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir, located in Varanasi, India, is a sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Founded by saint Tulsidas in the early 16th century, it stands as a spiritual oasis. The temple holds significant historical importance as Tulsidas is believed to have had a divine darshan of Lord Hanuman here, inspiring him to compose the epic Ramcharitmanas.
The temple has a tranquil atmosphere, drawing devotees seeking blessings and solace. It's also known for its philanthropic endeavors, hosting a langar (community meal) every day, offering free meals to all visitors. The Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir is a must visit place in Varanasi to indulge in devotion, literature, and humanitarianism.
Location: 7XJX+VVQ, Saket Nagar Colony, Sankata Mochan Leprosy, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005
Timings: 6 AM to 1 PM and 4 PM to 8 PM
Places to Visit Near Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir:
- Tulsi Manas Temple, renowned for its inscriptions of Ramayana verses
- Durga Temple, a historic and vibrant Hindu temple
- The Sankat Mochan Music Festival, held at the temple, attracts music enthusiasts during specific times of the year
Things to Do Near Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, Varanasi:
- Seek blessings and attend the temple's prayers and rituals
- Explore the nearby spiritual and historical sites
- Enjoy cultural events and music festivals in the temple
6. Ramnagar Fort: Embrace the Majestic Antiquity
If you are looking for the best places to visit in Varanasi for couples, then Ramnagar Fort is one place you just can’t afford to miss. Situated on the eastern bank of the Ganges River in Varanasi, India, it is a historical gem that epitomizes the grandeur of a bygone era. Constructed in the 18th century by the Maharaja of Banaras, it serves as his royal residence and stands as an architectural marvel, showcasing a blend of Mughal and Indian styles. The fort is renowned for its exquisite ivory and sandalwood-carved balconies, ornate courtyards, and a museum housing vintage artifacts, royal attire, and vintage cars.
An ancient tale associated with the fort narrates that Lord Shiva visited this site during the lively Ramlila performances held within its premises. Today, Ramnagar Fort continues to allure history enthusiasts and travelers, offering a captivating journey into India's regal past.
Location: Varanasi Rd, Ram nagar, Ramnagar, Uttar Pradesh 221008
Timings: 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Places to Visit Near Ramnagar Fort:
- Ganges River: Enjoy boat rides or attend the famous Ganga Aarti at the riverbank nearby
- Sarnath: Explore the ancient Buddhist site known for its Dhamek Stupa and archaeological ruins
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple: Visit this sacred Shiva Temple in Old City
Things to Do Near Ramnagar Fort:
- Explore the fort's impressive architecture and museum exhibits
- Take a boat ride on the Ganges River
- Discover the rich spiritual and historical heritage of Varanasi
7. Durga Temple: Seek the Blessings of the Divine Goddess
Visiting the sacred city of Varanasi is no less than doing the Char Dham Yatra. From the temples to the ghats and the bustling streets, every element depicts the glory of Sanatana. The Durga Temple, located in Varanasi, India, is a sacred Hindu shrine dedicated to Goddess Durga. This ancient temple is renowned for its unique architectural style, featuring a multi-tiered shikhara (spire) built in red sandstone, which sets it apart from the traditional temple designs in the city. The temple's intricate artwork and idol of Goddess Durga make it a visual delight for visitors.
According to the ancient story, the temple was constructed in the 18th century by a Bengali Maharani (queen) as a mark of her devotion to the goddess. It's believed that the idol of Durga here is self-manifested, making it a significant pilgrimage site for devotees seeking the blessings of the divine mother.
Location: C14/160-36-A, Durgakund, Naipokhari, Chetganj, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001
Timings: 6 AM to 1 PM and 4 PM to 8 PM
Places to Visit Near Durga Temple, Varanasi:
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple: Explore the divine Hindu shrine
- Tulsi Manas Temple: Visit the temple known for Ramayana inscriptions
- Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple: Pay respects at this Hanuman temple
Things to Do Near Durga Temple:
- Partake in the temple's rituals and prayers
- Roam the spiritual and cultural heritage of the city
- Visit other nearby temples and historical places
Suggested Read: Best Things to Do in Ujjain: Discover this Sacred City and Indulge in its Cultural Beliefs
8. Shri Satyanarayan Tulsi Manas Mandir: For a Glimpse of Our History
One of the top things to do in India is to indulge in the rich culture and explore the heritage. Dedicated to saint Tulsidas who was the devotee of Lord Rama, the Shri Satyanarayan Tulsi Manas Mandir is the place where he wrote his spiritual texts. He later moved to Chitrakoot Ghat in Madhya Pradesh where he got the darshan of Lord Shri Ram and then he went to Ayodhya to do the Ram Katha. There are numerous places to explore in Varanasi that describe Ramayana and devotion of Tulsidas that every traveler should explore. Visit this beautiful temple to indulge in a divine experience for a lifetime bliss.
Location: Sankat Mochan Rd, Durgakund Rd, near Jalan, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005
Timings: 9 Am to 5 Pm
Places to Visit in Shri Satyanarayan Tulsi Manas Mandir:
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple: Explore the nearby revered Hindu shrine
- Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple: Pay your respects at this temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman
- Dashashwamedh Ghat: Witness the Ganga Aarti ceremony along the Ganges River
Things to Do in Shri Satyanarayan Tulsi Manas Mandir:
- Participate in religious ceremonies
- Discover the temple's historical significance
- Immerse in the spiritual ambiance of Varanasi
Best Time to Visit Varanasi: Between Oct and Feb
Distance from Varanasi to Delhi: 865 KM, 13 Hrs 37 Min
Distance from Varanasi to Ayodhya: 220 KM, 4 Hrs 30 Min
Distance from Varanasi to Chitrakoot: 258 KM, 5 Hrs 30 Min
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How To Reach Varanasi: A Divine Door to Attain Moksha
- By Air:
Varanasi Airport (VNS), also known as Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, is the nearest airport to Varanasi. You can book a direct flight to Varanasi from major cities in India, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bangalore, among others. Once you land at the airport, you can hire a taxi or use other local transportation options to reach your destination in Varanasi.
- By Train:
Varanasi has a well-connected railway station known as Varanasi Junction (BSB). It's connected to major cities across India. You can check train schedules and book tickets online through the Indian Railways website or various travel booking platforms. If you're in a hurry, consider booking tickets on a faster train like the Shatabdi Express or Rajdhani Express, which have fewer stops and shorter travel times.
- By Road:
If you prefer traveling by road, you can take a long-distance bus or hire a taxi or cab. Varanasi is well-connected to nearby cities and states by a network of national and state highways.
- By Overnight Bus:
Some cities offer overnight bus services to Varanasi. These buses typically depart in the evening and arrive in Varanasi the next morning, allowing you to save time on accommodation.
- By Domestic Flight and Transfer:
If you're traveling from a city that doesn't have a direct flight to Varanasi, you can book a domestic flight to a nearby major airport like Lucknow or Patna. From there, you can take a connecting flight to Varanasi to shorten your travel time.
Interesting Facts About Varanasi: That Every Traveller Should Know
Varanasi, also known as Banaras or Kashi, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with a history dating back over 3,000 years.
- It is considered one of the holiest cities in Hinduism and is a major pilgrimage site.
- Varanasi is situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges River in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
- The city is renowned for its numerous ghats (steps leading to the river), where rituals, bathing, and cremations take place daily.
- Varanasi is famous for its vibrant and bustling street markets, offering everything from silk sarees to handicrafts and street food.
- The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the most sacred temples in India and a must-visit for pilgrims and tourists alike.
- Varanasi is also known for its music, art, and culture, particularly its classical music and dance traditions.
- The city is home to the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), one of the largest residential universities in Asia.
- Varanasi's unique blend of spirituality, history, and culture attracts travelers and seekers from around the world.
- The city has inspired many poets, writers, and spiritual leaders, making it a hub of intellectual and artistic creativity.
Varanasi is a beautiful spiritual city located in the cultural state of Uttar Pradesh. This ancient city along the sacred Ganges River offers a profound and unforgettable journey for travelers. From the spiritual aura of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple to the tranquil ghats like Dashashwamedh and Assi, there are many places to visit in Varanasi that resonate with devotion and tradition. Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhism, adds a layer of historical significance, while the bustling markets of the Old City provide a taste of local life. Whether you seek enlightenment, cultural immersion, or simply a glimpse into India's rich heritage, Varanasi's allure is undeniable, making it a must-visit destination for all explorers. Don’t wait anymore, pack your bags and book your India tour packages today to experience a blissful holiday delight.
Dashashwamedh Ghat, one of Varanasi's holiest ghats, is renowned for its daily Ganga Aarti ceremony. It holds historical importance as the spot where Lord Brahma conducted the ten-horse sacrifice, signifying its profound spiritual significance.
Yes, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple welcomes visitors of all faiths. However, certain inner sanctum areas may have restricted access, so it's advisable to check ahead.
The evening Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat typically commences around 6:45 PM. The serene atmosphere during sunset adds to the spiritual experience.
Yes, you can take part in boat rides to witness the mesmerizing ghats and the city's picturesque panorama. Boat rides are available throughout the day, with mornings and evenings being particularly popular times.
Sarnath, an essential Buddhist pilgrimage site, is conveniently accessible from Varanasi by road, approximately a 30-minute drive away. You can hire a taxi or take a local bus to get there.
In addition to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, other noteworthy temples include the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, Tulsi Manas Temple, and the ancient Durga Temple, each with its unique historical and spiritual significance.
Generally, photography is permitted at most ghats in Varanasi. However, in some areas, it's courteous to ask for permission from locals, especially during sensitive rituals or ceremonies.
Varanasi's Old City is a treasure trove for shoppers. Places like Vishwanath Gali and Thatheri Bazaar are known for their exquisite silk sarees, intricate jewelry, and traditional handicrafts.