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VaranasiIndia

Situated on the banks of the Ganges River is one of the oldest cities in the world, a sacred place for Hindus, filled with temples and holy sites.

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.

Where to stay in Varanasi

Morning river paddle on the Ganges, Varanasi.

Sigra

When in Sigra, you can plan a visit to Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Dasaswamedh ghat, some noteworthy sights in the nearby area.

Sigra
Early morning boat ride along the Ganges River in Varanasi, India. As with most Indian cities, this one is full of tight streets, hidden alley ways and of course, monkeys. The Ganges provides a little breathing room from the congested city streets in theory, but the river in lined with "burning ghats" where people are constantly being cremated. Varanasi is an extremely holy city and many believe its good luck to die and/or be cremated in this city. Ashes are then placed in the Ganges River, which also holds high religious significance. #UrbanJungle

Varanasi Nagar Nigam

While Varanasi Nagar Nigam might not have many sights to explore, venturing just a little farther will lead you to top things to see and do like JVH Mall and Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

Varanasi Nagar Nigam

Top Hotels in Varanasi

Taj Ganges, Varanasi
Taj Ganges, Varanasi
5 out of 5
Nadesar Palace Grounds, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
The price is $54 per night from Oct 27 to Oct 28

Located in the heart of Varanasi, this luxury hotel is 1 mi (1.6 km) from JVH Mall and 2.9 mi (4.7 km) from Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Bharat Mata and Vishwanatha ...

4.2/5Very Good! (226 reviews)

"Loved my stay at Taj Ganges. The staff was very polite and helpful. Had a splendid stay."…"

Reviewed on Oct 12, 2020

Taj Ganges, Varanasi
Ramada Plaza by Wyndham JHV Varanasi
Ramada Plaza by Wyndham JHV Varanasi
5 out of 5
The Mall, Cantonment, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
The price is $57 per night from Oct 23 to Oct 24

Situated in the historical district, this luxury hotel is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from JVH Mall and 2.2 mi (3.5 km) from Bharat Mata. Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Dasaswamedh ...

3.8/5Good! (202 reviews)

"Generally comfortable, modern room though the bathroom showed evidence of prior life. It was a little shabby but perfectly functioning - nice hot showers, etc. and useful clothesline in tub. Breakfast options very good and room service menu and delivery were fine."…"

Reviewed on Feb 8, 2020

Ramada Plaza by Wyndham JHV Varanasi
Radisson Hotel Varanasi
Radisson Hotel Varanasi
4.5 out of 5
The Mall Cantonment, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
The price is $44 per night from Oct 29 to Oct 30

Located in the heart of Varanasi, this luxury hotel is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from JVH Mall and 2.2 mi (3.5 km) from Bharat Mata. Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Dasaswamedh ...

4/5Very Good! (128 reviews)

"Very friendly staff. Rooms clean and quiet. Great place to stay..."…"

Reviewed on Mar 4, 2020

Radisson Hotel Varanasi
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Vacation Rentals in Varanasi

Villa Benares - A Lavish Standalone Villa
Villa Benares - A Lavish Standalone Villa
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
The price is $475 per night from Oct 23 to Oct 24

Situated in Varanasi, this historic villa is 3 mi (4.8 km) from JVH Mall and within 6 mi (10 km) of Dasaswamedh ghat and Bharat Mata. Kaal Bhairava Mandir and ...

Villa Benares - A Lavish Standalone Villa
Comfort and Cleanliness. Live With Purity and Simplicity in Varanasi
Comfort and Cleanliness. Live With Purity and Simplicity in Varanasi
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
The price is $20 per night from Oct 23 to Oct 24

Situated in Varanasi, this apartment building is within 3 mi (5 km) of Durga Temple, Asi Ghat, and Banaras Hindu University. Dasaswamedh ghat is 2.9 mi (4.7 ...

Comfort and Cleanliness. Live With Purity and Simplicity in Varanasi
Flat Located Behind BHU Campus and Near Ghats
Flat Located Behind BHU Campus and Near Ghats
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Situated in Varanasi, this apartment building is within 1 mi (2 km) of New Vishwanatha Temple and Banaras Hindu University. Asi Ghat is 2.4 mi (3.9 km) ...

Flat Located Behind BHU Campus and Near Ghats
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Varanasi

Dasaswamedh ghat
Image for Dasaswamedh ghat

Dasaswamedh ghat

4.5/5(27 reviews)

Observe sadhus conducting rituals, pilgrims bathing in holy water and priests performing the enthralling Ganga aarti ceremony on the banks of the Ganges River.

Ramnagar Fort
Image for Ramnagar Fort

Ramnagar Fort

3.5/5(5 reviews)

Admire the architecture of this 17th-century fort, discover exhibits of armor, jewelry and vintage cars and watch stunning sunsets over the Ganges River.

Durga Temple
Image for Durga Temple

Durga Temple

4.5/5(13 reviews)

Discover an immaculate image of a revered Hindu god and watch mischievous troops of monkeys at this attractive centuries-old temple.

Dharmarajika Stupa
Image for Dharmarajika Stupa

Dharmarajika Stupa

4.5/5(3 reviews)

Founded to enshrine the remains of Lord Buddha, this ancient monument forms part of a Buddhist pilgrimage site home to monasteries, shrines and temples.

Tulsi Ghat
Image for Tulsi Ghat

Tulsi Ghat

4.5/5(17 reviews)

Watch pilgrims bathe in sacred water, see holy men perform ancient rituals and visit the former home of a great Indian poet.

Mulagandha Kuti Vihara Monastery
Image for Mulagandha Kuti Vihara Monastery

Mulagandha Kuti Vihara Monastery

4/5(1 review)

Listen to monks chanting Buddhist sermons and spot interesting artwork at this modern temple, set among picturesque gardens, ruined temples and sacred shrines.

Top things to do in Varanasi

Varanasi Full-Day Tour with Sarnath & Evening Ganga Aarti
Image for Varanasi Full-Day Tour with Sarnath & Evening Ganga Aarti

Varanasi Full-Day Tour with Sarnath & Evening Ganga Aarti

$103
Per adult
3 Days Private Enchanting Varanasi Tour With Rooftop Dinner
Image for 3 Days Private Enchanting Varanasi Tour With Rooftop Dinner

3 Days Private Enchanting Varanasi Tour With Rooftop Dinner

$306
Per adult
3-hours Varanasi: Temple hopping with transfers
Image for 3-hours Varanasi: Temple hopping with transfers

3-hours Varanasi: Temple hopping with transfers

$62
Per adult
1 Day trip to Triveni Sangam from Varanasi
Image for 1 Day trip to Triveni Sangam from Varanasi

1 Day trip to Triveni Sangam from Varanasi

$240
Per adult
Boat cruise from Chunar to Varanasi with sightseeing
Image for Boat cruise from Chunar to Varanasi with sightseeing

Boat cruise from Chunar to Varanasi with sightseeing

$900
Per adult
Varanasi- Ganga Aarti by night
Image for Varanasi- Ganga Aarti by night

Varanasi- Ganga Aarti by night

$48
Per adult

Reviews of Varanasi

4.1

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
21
5 - Excellent 52.5%
4 - Good
10
4 - Good 25%
3 - Okay
5
3 - Okay 12.5%
2 - Disappointing
1
2 - Disappointing 2.5%
1 - Terrible
3
1 - Terrible 7.5%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Mar 10, 2020

Unique experience.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Jan 31, 2020

I had good time in Varanasi . Boat ride and Aarati on river Ganga was excellent in evening. It’s more then 400 years old city , lots of visitors from all around world . Government is spending lots of time and money. Airport is very well built

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Oct 9, 2019

Be prepared, Varanasi is not like anyplace we have been. It is a crowded, crazy and amazing.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Sep 22, 2019

It depends on what you are looking for- if a spiritual journey, then the chaos and the smells of a crowded city will not be a problem. If you are looking for anything else to just have comfort, may be you can go somewhere else.

1/5 - Terrible

Verified traveler

Sep 4, 2019

This hotel is a rip off!

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Jun 30, 2019

Do not come in summer is very hot.

Cities near Varanasi

Mulagandha Kuti Vihara Monastery showing heritage architecture, religious aspects and a temple or place of worship

Sarnath

Dasaswamedh ghat showing markets as well as a large group of people

Chandauli