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Things To Do In Varanasi
Considered to be one of the holiest cities in India as well as the world, Varanasi is a city located by the Ganga River in Uttar Pradesh. The city is brimming with so much history, culture and devotion from the pilgrims coming in all year long. Other than immersing yourself in pure devotion, there are a number of things to do in Varanasi that will make your trip memorable. You can choose from a vast array of activities that include attending the evening aarti at the ghats, which is absolutely remarkable to taking a boat ride on the Ganges with the most beautiful view during sunset or even visiting the weavers’ village to see the making of the famous Benares Saris. Below is our list of activities you can engage in on your trip to Varanasi.
Take a Boat Ride
One of the most popular things to do in the city of Varanasi is taking a boat ride on River Ganga. Take a ride early in the morning, during sunrise or late in the evening during sunset and see the sun turn the waters of the river into a magnificent gold colour, making it look so very pretty. The boat ride will take you to the different Ghats that are close to the banks of the river, where you can observe different Hindu rituals in process. You can also get a panoramic view of the temples and the river from the boat, which is worth photographing and cherishing for the rest of your lifetime.
Take a Dip in the Holy Water
It is said that the powers of the holy Ganges can wash away your wrongdoings or sins and spiritually cleanse you. Keeping this in mind, pilgrims from all over the country and some from different places in the world as well visit Varanasi to take a dip in the holy water of Ganga. The city has more than 84 Ghats with staircases that lead to the river, urging pilgrims to take a dip. There is no specific time to take a dip and people do it as early as before sunrise, which is accompanied by prayers and rituals. If you want to take a dip, the best time to visit the Ghats would be during summers, when the water is suitable.
Due to the city’s religious significance, going to Varanasi most likely means that you are set to go on a pilgrimage. With more than 2,000 temples in the region, Varanasi serves to be one of the most popular places for people to attain blessings and offer prayers to the almighty. Each temple situated in this city has a story behind it being built, a mythological history that builds honor and faith in pilgrims who visit. The most pious and famous temples in Varanasi include Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the Bharat Mata Temple, The Durga Temple, the Kalbhairav Temple and Tulsi Manas amongst so many others. The ambience created by the pilgrims with their singing prayers and the priests chanting mantras and ringing the temple bells will evoke the devotion in you.
Attend the Evening Aarti
If we are talking about things to do in Varanasi, the evening aarti ceremony that takes place on the Ghats is one of the most done things by the people visiting. The evening aarti that takes place by the Ganges is a site that is worth visiting; witness the unfolding of rituals as priests chant prayers, greeting the almighty with their 4.5 kg brass lamps and almost going into a trance. Aromas of incense sticks and flowers fill the air, making the environment absolutely divine and so pious that it will pull you towards it. The worship ritual is not a spectacle for tourists but rather an authentic ritual to worship the Gods and Goddesses of the many temples.
Visit the Weavers’ Village
Varanasi, also known as Banaras is famous for making some of the most beautiful Banarasi Saris. The Sarai Mohan Village located 7 km eastward from Varanasi is also known as weavers’ village of Varanasi and is famous for silk weaving. Banarasi Saris are some of the most exquisite saris in India known for their silver and gold zari and embroidery; they take almost 15 days to a month to be made. These saris are worn by women for auspicious as well as high end occasions. In the village of Sari Mohan you can see weavers working on these saris, designing them and crafting them with so much intricacy, that you’d definitely want to buy one for yourself.
Visit the Historical Village of Sarnath
Sarnath is a popular village near Varanasi located at a distance of 12 km. This village is deemed religious and is believed to be the place where Gautam Buddha found enlightenment and taught the Dharma for the first time. Sarnath is a holy Buddhist site with relics from ancient times that are worth seeing and draws a good amount of visitors. Some of the most impressive relics in Sarnath is the Dhamek Stupa which is 43.6 m high and 28 m in diameter and the Chaukhandi Stupa that has stunning architecture. While in Sarnath, you can also visit the Ashoka Pillar that has some amazing carvings on it and also the Archeological museum that has artifacts from the ancient world.
Walk Along the Ghats
No matter where you plan to stay in Varanasi, the Ghats are always close by and easy to get to. A walk along these Ghats of Varanasi will overwhelm your senses; Children washing herds of buffaloes in the river, people taking a dip in the water, barbers giving haircuts, locals playing cricket and boatmen trying to convince tourists to take a boat ride. Take a stroll by these Ghats with much happening, that you wouldn’t know what to pay attention to. If you are an avid photographer, this is a great place to click some snaps and get some of the locals in your shot. You can also see some sadhus dressed in orange who may urge you to take a photo of theirs in exchange for money. If you are interested in the local life of the people in the city, this may be one of the things you would want to engage in.
Do make it a point to visit the Assi Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat and Dashashwamedh Ghat.