Varanasi (also known as Beneras and Kashi) is one of the oldest surviving cities of the world. According to Hindu mythology, Varanasi is considered to be one of the holiest cities in India. It lies along the banks of the sacred Ganges River, and it's believed that taking a dip in it washes away all the sins and purify the soul. Millions of devotees and worshipers throng this place to take a dip in the sacred Ganges River and pray in the famous temples of Varanasi. Mark Twain, the famous American writer, was so enthralled by the city that he once wrote: "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”
Visiting this holy town can be an experience in itself. The site of the Ghats full of activity can refresh the mind and soul of an individual. One can see the devotees taking a dip in the holy river, priests chanting the hymns and mantras and religious customs and traditions in full swing all over the place from morning to dusk.
Varanasi is also famous for its rich heritage of music, art, culture and its traditional art of silk weaving, the Banarsi silk Saris are famous all over the world. Banarsi ‘Pan’ is also famous all over India and is chewed by people across India.
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The city of Varanasi lies along the sacred Ganges River. The river front is about 4 kilometres long and it has universal appeal with hordes of devotees performing various rituals on the Ghats from morning to night. The Ghats are best viewed at dawn and are best approached by the ‘Dashashwamedha’ ghats, from where boats can also be hired at reasonable rates.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple (also known as Golden Temple) is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva, who is considered one of the most powerful Gods according to Hindu religious belief. ‘Shivlinga’ installed in this temple is considered to be sacred and attracts people from all parts of the country to this historic city.
Bharat Milap, usually held in the month of October/November is an important festival typical to the city of Kashi or Varanasi. Bharat Milap is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after spending 14 years in exile and his subsequent reunion with his brother, Bharat. The essence of this festival is the victory of truth over evil. The Bharat Milap festival is held in Nati Imli area of the city, on the day following Dussehra and is one of the the greatest attractions of Varanasi city. Thousands of people gather in the streets to see the procession of Lord Ram and his reunion with younger brother, Bharat. Another interesting part of the Bharat Milap celebrations is the presence of the royal family of Varanasi.
Varanasi is very hot in the summer months (April-June) when the heat can be unbearable at times with temperatures reaching up to 45 °C. The rainy season is from July to October, and Varanasi receives a good amount of rainfall. The winter months (November-February) are the best time to be in Varanasi when the temperature drops down and there is very little rainfall and skies are generally blue. Temperatures are mostly well above 20 °C still during this time.
|Avg Max||23.1 °C||26.7 °C||33.1 °C||38.9 °C||40.8 °C||38.7 °C||33.8 °C||32.9 °C||32.8 °C||32.7 °C||29.4 °C||24.6 °C|
|Avg Min||8.8 °C||11.4 °C||16.3 °C||21.9 °C||26 °C||27.7 °C||26.3 °C||25.9 °C||25 °C||20.7 °C||14.1 °C||9.6 °C|
|Rainfall||16.9 mm||17.4 mm||8.2 mm||5.5 mm||12.2 mm||102.1 mm||305.8 mm||267.9 mm||236.6 mm||35.6 mm||9.4 mm||5.7 mm|
Varanasi Airport (VNS) can be reached by Indian Airlines from Delhi and Mumbai. Recently some of the budget carriers have also started flights from Delhi/Mumbai to Varanasi. These include
Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Spice Jet. Khajuraho can be reached with Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines, Lucknow with Indian Airlines and Chennai with Kingfisher Airlines. International connections include Kathmandu with Indian Airlines, Bangkok with Thai Airways International and Jet Airways, and Colombo with Mihin Lanka.
Varanasi has good train connections with rest of India. Varanasi Junction is the main train station, however the station of Mughal Sarai which is on the main Delhi-Kolkata line can also be easily reached by Auto Rickshaw. Mughal Sarai lies on the other bank of the Ganges river.
Taxis can be hired for traveling to Varanasi from nearby cities.
State Transport Corporation has regular bus service from other major cities of Uttar Pradesh to Varanasi. Frequent express buses run to Allahabad (three hours), Faizabad (seven hours), Gorakhpur (seven hours) and Lucknow (8½ hours). Two buses run daily to Khajuraho (12 hours) departing at 4:30am, while one AC bus goes to Bodhgaya (seven hours). Buses to Sarnath (40 minutes) leave from outside the Varanasi Junction train station.
Although Varanasi is located along the Ganges River, there is no useful public transport along the river, as alternatives are much better and faster.
Plenty of Taxis/Auto/Cycle Rickshaw is available to explore the city. It is better to fix the rate before boarding any vehicle as most of the meters in auto are not working. You can also get early in the morning and walk to the Ghats to catch a glimpse of the daily chores at the Ghats.
Varanasi has a wide range of cuisines to offer starting from Indian local food to Korean, Japanese, Italian etc. For people who would like to indulge in rich fried North Indian Poori-Subzi the halwai's (sweetmeat sellers) of Dashaswmedha Ghat is a perfect place it won't even cost half a dollar (USD) around 15-20 INR. Sitting by the ghats one can relish a small cup of masala tea. Accompanied by some Kachoori's.
In case you want to experience something more international walk down the bylanes and it's full of restaurants serving cheesy italians food, Japanese, Korean, Israeli food. the may not be in the most authentic form but to get the flavour of home at such a distant place is fun in itself.
One can drink the famous Thandai (a mix of creamy milk with nuts and spices) at Gadolia Chowk.
Outside Ramnagar Fort you can take a sip of the most outstanding lassi
Sai Kripa Guest House, B.3 / 226 Shivala Varanasi. 0 93051 31250 / 0 99361 83101 is a good clean place close to the Ganges with free railway pickup, and free Ghat tour with a nice restaurant on the roof. Rooms 300-350 Rps.
|Ganpati Guest House||D 3 24 Meer Ghat||GUESTHOUSE||79|
|Hare Rama Guest House (Varanasi)||d 21 / 24 rana mahal ghat||Guesthouse||71|
|Hotel Sonmony||B-6/91-A Harishchandra Ghat, Varanasi||Hotel||65|
|Hotel Surya||S-20/51A-5, The Mall Road Cantonment||Hotel||-|
|Maa Vaishno Guest House||B5/188. Shivala Ghat||Guesthouse||73|
|Maruti Guest House||B1/86-K, SAHODARBIR Bridge Assi-Lanka Road||Guesthouse||74|
|Monu Family Paying Guest House||D8/4 Kalika Gali,Near Golden Temple Dashashwamedh||Guesthouse||84|
|Pallavi International Hotel||Hathwa Place Chetgunj||Hotel||75|
|Puja Guest House||D 1/45, LALITA GHAT||Guesthouse||-|
|Radiant YMCA Tourist Hostel||28A, Sampoornanand Nagar, Mahmoorgunj Sigra Road, 221010||Hostel||72|
|Rashmi Guest House||D. 16/28-A , Manmandir Dasaswamedh||Guesthouse||-|
|The Golden Buddha, Sarnath||Sarangnath Colony Sarnath||Hotel||-|
|Ajay Guest House||D 21/ 11 Rana Mahal Ghat||Guesthouse||74|
|Rahul Guest House||N1/15D10 gangotri vihar,nagwa Lanka||Guesthouse||82|
|Sita Guest House||22/16 Chausatthi Ghat (RANA GHAT) Near Dashaswamedh Ghat||Guesthouse||80|
|Ganga Fuji Home||D7/21 Sakarkand Gali,||Guesthouse||72|
|Hotel Vaibhav||56,Patel Nagar Cantt.||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Elena||D 21 \ 17 Rana Mahal Ghat Bengali Tola||Hotel||73|
|Hotel Barahdari||Maidagin near g.p.o||Hotel||72|
|Shiva Ganges View||B-14/24, Mansarovar Ghat ,Near Andhra Ashram||GUESTHOUSE||77|
|Hotel New Temple Town||53, Patel Nagar, Cantonment,||Hotel||-|
|Hotel India||59 Patel Nagar Cnatt||Hotel||-|
|Golden Lodge||Kalika Gali Besides Vishwanath Gali||Hostel||-|
|Silver Ganges Paying Guest House||B6、60 Harishchandra road||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel OK International||D-47/188 Ramapura, Luxa||Hotel||-|
|Suraj Guest House||CK1037 Lalita Ghat Chowk Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh||GUESTHOUSE||76|
|Ram Bhawan, Kautilya Society Residence||D-20/21 Munshi Ghat||HOSTEL||88|
|Sankatha Guest House||CK.10/60-A Manikarnika Ghat Chowk||GUESTHOUSE||66|
|Hotel Ganesha||B1/48 Opposite Abhay Cinema Assi||HOSTEL||74|
|Peace Home||D20/27, Munshi Ghat, Bengali Tola||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Subh Laxmi Guest House||D 35/13, Khari Kuwan, Godoliya||GUESTHOUSE||78|
|Yogi Lodge||D 8/29, Kalika Gali||Apartment||77|
|Homestay||D-61/16,Sidhgiri Bagh Sigra-Aurangabad Road||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Baba Lolark PG on Ganges||B3/4 Shivala Near Jain Ghat Mata Anandmayi Ashram||HOSTEL||70|
|Old Yogi Lodge||D53/62, Luxa Road, (Near Ramkrishna Mission Hospital) Main Ghat,||GUESTHOUSE||75|
|Somit Paying Guesthouse||D.32/162, Devnathpura, bengalitola lane , near Golden Sporting Club||Guesthouse||-|
|Sagar Guest House||D 52/34 J-1 Luxmi Kund Luxa||GUESTHOUSE||71|
|Rudra Guest House||D.17/71-1, Bansigali Bengalitola, Dashaswamedh||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|VARANASI HOME STAY||J-1,ABHILASHA COLONY VARUNA BRIDGE NADESAR||Guesthouse||-|
|Hotel City Inn Varanasi||S 21/116, Parade Kothi, Opp. Cantt Rly. Station||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Central Residency||C 19/122 A-Ka, Sigra Thana Road,||HOTEL||-|
|Peace Home Varanasi||D20/27 Munshi Ghat Bengali Tola||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Scindhia Guest House||SCINDHIA GHAT (Next to Manikarnika Burning G VARANASI-221001 (INDIA)||Guesthouse||-|
|Gupta Inn||S-19/122,P.W.D. Road (Behind UP Motor Petrol Pump) Varuna Bridge||HOTEL||-|
|Azure Family Paying Guest House||Plot number 30, Vijaya Nagaram Colony, Near Bhelu Bhelupur||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Prince Paying Guest House||4/2A-4K Daulatpur Pandeypur||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Sri Sai Kripa Guest House||B-3/226 Shivala, Near Chet Sing Fort, Varanasi||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|International Travellers' Hostel||R-5-2, C-32/4 Vidyapeeth Road||HOSTEL||-|
|Marilyn Guesthouse||B.3/306 Shivala||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Shiva Guest House Varanasi||D20/14, Munshi Ghat||GUESTHOUSE||-|
Cyber cafes are available in plenty with access rates of around 20-40 Rupees per hour. STD/ISD booths for making domestic and international calls can easily be found in all parts of the city.
See also: International Telephone Calls
India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost 50rs to 200rs. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.
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