Known for Temples, Monuments and Rivers
For thousands of years, people have worshipped on the shores of the River Ganges at Varanasi. The ancient city is of great spiritual importance to Hindus because, according to legend, Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati stood here at the beginning of time. It is an exciting place of temples, shrines and rituals on the western banks of the river.
A good way to understand the importance of the river to Hindus is to take a boat ride along the waterfront to see the ghats. These are the long stone steps that lead from the city's alleys down to the river. At any time you may see people praying, bathing and washing their clothes. Weddings, funerals and cremations are also conducted on the banks of the river.
In the evening, go to Dasaswamedh Ghat to see the nightly ritual where thousands of lamps float across the water. The ghat is close to the 18th-century Kasha Vishwanath Temple and to the Jantar Mantar Observatory. Tour the 18th-century science base and see instruments that once recorded the motion of stars. The observatory is on the roof of the palace of Man Mahal.
Varanasi has temples at just about every turn. As a general rule, non-Hindus are not permitted inside Hindu temples, but do visit some of the sanctuaries to appreciate their architecture. The white marble Tulsi Manas Temple is open to everyone. Step inside to see walls decorated with images from Hindu legends.
While Hinduism is the main religion in India, Varanasi is also sacred to Buddhists. Visit the small village of Sarnath, just outside the city, where Buddha first preached his message of peace. See ancient holy structures, such as the Dhamekh Stupa, which dates back to the 5th century.
Being a place of religious significance to many Indians, Varanasi is well connected to many parts of the country by road, rail and air. Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport is the nearest international airport, just 11 miles (18 kilometers) away.
When you see the temples and rituals along the waterfront, you'll understand why Varanasi is so special to many Indians.
Witness one of the city's most wonderful scenes—an evening prayer ceremony on the banks of the sacred Ganges, with help from a private guide. With flaming torches, plumes of burning incense, and the sound of chanting prayer around you, this spiritual event effuses a marvelous, ethereal atmosphere.
The most sacred city in Hinduism and Jainism is an unrelentingly chaotic and blindingly colorful town on the banks of the mighty Ganges. Benefit from the local expertise of a private guide on an insightful journey across the sights and spiritual highlights of this ancient place.
Discover the magic of Varanasi—one of the 7 holy cities of Hinduism—with a serene early morning boat cruise and city walking tour. Drift past the majestic and famous ghats that line the river banks before you explore the labyrinth of alleys that teem with life during the day.
Rise early and await pickup from your Varanasi accommodation at 5am, when you’ll board a vehicle destined for Assi Ghat, the southernmost entry point to the holy River Ganges. Along the way, your guide explains the significance of the Ganges River in the Hindu religion.