Visit Varanasi

Visit Varanasi

Visit Varanasi for spiritual reasons, age old traditions and culture. Varanasi India is the oldest city on earth. Visit Varanasi is a visit to Hindu holy city on the banks of river Ganges in India. Varanasi is also known as Benaras. Varanasi India offers matchless culture that has been developed since time immemorial.

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Varanasi India has been the ultimate pilgrimage for Hindus for ages. This old city has been one of the major cultural centers of northern India. The culture of this oldest city of the world revolves around ancient holy river Ganges. River Ganges is the heart and soul of this city. Hindus believe that one who is graced to die in Benares would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. It is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati.

Visit Varanasi is a matchless experience on the Ganges. You may see various Hindu religious rituals on ghats along with daily routine activities. It is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Millions of international tourists visit Varanasi while on a trip to India.

Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals. Almost midway in its long journey from the slopes of the mighty Himalayas to the inflamed shore of Bay of Bengal, the muddy waters of the Ganges flow by a city that is five centuries older than Christ. The city finds mention in the great epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. It was already an old city when Rome was founded, and was a flourishing centre of trade when Buddha came to Sarnath, some 10 km away, to preach his first sermon in 500 BC. Benares is a centre of learning and civilization for over 3000 years. Varanasi has been a symbol of Hindu renaissance. It has been the hub of knowledge, philosophy, and culture along with Indian arts and crafts that have flourished for centuries. It is also a pilgrimage for Jains. It is believed to be the birthplace of Parsvanath, the twenty-third Tirthankar of Jains.

There are more than one hundred Ghats along the bank of the Ganges present a varied scene from dawn to dusk. A Ghat is a series of well-paved steps that lead to the water. A Ghat in Benaras usually has small temples built into its side. These Ghats with their entourage of temples form the axis on which the city developed. For centuries, the Hindus considered it very auspicious to bathe at the ghats of Benaras. Every day at dawn thousands of pilgrims can be seen offering salutations to the Sun God in waist-deep water, secure in their conviction that the muddy waters of the Ganges will wash away all the accumulated sins of their life. The oil lamps and flowers set afloat on the river at dusk make a fascinating sight.

There are five important Ghats in Benaras where the pilgrims flock to take a bath as Dasawamedha Ghat, Assi Ghat, Barnasangam Ghat, Panchganga Ghat and Manikarnika Ghat. Each ghat has its own history and following. Many of the Ghats were built and owned by the royal families of India. The best time to visit the ghats is at the break of dawn, when pilgrims perform the prayer to the Sun God immersed waist deep in the waters of the holy Ganges. The best way to catch the essence of Benaras is to travel down the Ganges by boat at six o’clock in the morning. The boats can be hired by the hour from the main steps of the Dasawamedha Ghat. The steady creek of ancient oars, the slap of wet garments, incessant chatter of the bathers amid a tinkling of scattered temple bells, watching Benaras from the environs of a gently swaying boat is truly an experience worth treasuring.

Varanasi has an important role in classical Indian music. The city has produced some of the most well known musicians, philosophers, poets and writers in India. Some most important stalwarts of this city include Tulsi Das, Kabir Das, Munshi Premchand, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Bismillah Khan to name a few. It has been a seat of knowledge from about 700 BC onwards. Mrs. Annie Besant chose Varanasi as the home for her ‘Theosophical Society of India’ and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, to institute ‘Benares Hindu University, the biggest University in Asia. Ayurveda is said to be originated at Varanasi and is believed to be the basis of modern medical sciences. Maharshi Patanjali, the preceptor of Ayurveda and Yoga, was also affiliated with Varanasi. It is also famous for the finest silks and gold & silver brocades since ancient times.

American writer Mark Twain wrote: “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together”.

According to Macaulay, Varanasi was the “city, which, in wealth, population, dignity and sanctity was among the foremost in Asia”. He described the commercial importance saying, “from the looms of Benaras went forth the most delicate silks that adorned the halls of St. James and of Versailles”.


Varanasi is a well-known tourist spot in India and thousands of tourists visit the city every year. It is the cultural capital of India that has many shades. This city is famous for its temples, Ghats, culture, silk saris and much more. It is marked by it many temples and Ghats. Benaras is humanism personified. It is also the land where many eminent personalities of India were born. Varanasi is a city where the past and present live side by side.

Benaras Hindu University (BHU): A noted philanthropist Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya established it in 1916. It is the famous and reputed center of learning in India. You may see the fabulous collection of over 100,000 artifacts on display at the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum in the campus dating back to the 1st century BC till the 12th century. King of Kashi (Varanasi) donated 1350 acres of land for the construction of the sprawling campus.

Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum: It displays India’s heritage. It has preserved the past of India. This museum was established in 1920. It is an art and architecture museum and houses a vast collection of paintings, Hindu and Buddhist sculptures and other materials of archeological importance. It is open from 11 am to 4.30 pm (7.30 am to 12.30 pm in May and June). Closed on Sundays.

Jantar Mantar (observatory): The ruler of Jai Singh built the observatory in Varanasi in line with those built in Delhi, Mathura, Ujjain and Jaipur. The Varanasi observatory has all the instruments, which were required to record the motion, speed and properties of various stars and planets and other cosmic objects. The observatory was built in 1600 and it still delivers the exact measurements, which can match any modern instrument.

Bharat Mata Temple: This is an exclusive temple in Varanasi. This temple is not dedicated to any God. It is dedicated to the human manifestation of India popularly called Mother India or Bharat Mata. Mahatma Gandhi in 1936, the father of the India, inaugurated this temple. The statute of Bharat Mata is built in marble and is a model of undivided India, depicting the mountains, plains and oceans.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple: This temple is synonymous to Varanasi. It is the most sacred and famous temple in Varanasi. This temple is popular among Hindu devotees. After the ritual dip in the Ganga pilgrims jostle their way to one of India’s holiest Hindu temples that is accessed by a narrow and crowded lane. Qutubudddin Aibak destroyed the original temple in 1194. A slew of iconoclasts as Sikander Lodi and Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb continued to raze the shrine that was rebuilt after destruction. Queen of Indore, Ahilyabai Holkar, commissioned the new shrine in the 18th century. Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab donated its twin gold spires. The Shivratri Puja from Feb-Mar is performed enthusiastically every year and Kartik Puja in mid-November is also very elaborate. A number of foreign tourists may take the glimpse of this temple from outside, as the followers of Semitic religions are not allowed to enter the sanctum of this ancient temple.

Durga Mandir: This temple was built in the 18th century. It is dedicated to Goddess Durga who is the significant manifestation of Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva that signifies the female element of power and harmony in nature. A queen of Bengal built this temple.  The architecture of this temple is typical North Indian Nagara Style. Non-Hindus can enter the courtyard but not the inner sanctum. It is commonly known as Monkey Temple due to many frisky monkeys that have made it their home.

Sankat Mochan Temple: This is also a popular temple that has not much historical significance but is a good place to visit. It is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and believed to be founded by Tulsidas, it is one of the most visited temples after the Kashi Vishvanath and Annapoorna temples. It was actually very small in its early phase. In due course charitable funds collected to upgrade this temple and today it consists a large complex.

Tulsi Manas Temple: A short walk south of the Durga Temple is the modern marble sikhara-style Tulsi Manas Temple that was built in 1964. This temple has a historical significance and cultural importance. This is because Ramayana was composed at this very place. Goswami Tulsi Das was the man who composed Ramayana in the form of “Ram Charit Manas”.Its walls are engraved with verses and scenes from the Ram Charit Manas, the Hindi version of the Ramayana. Its author, poet Tulsi Das, lived here while writing it. You can watch figures performing scenes from Hindu mythology on the 2nd floor for a small fee. The temple is open from 5.30 am to noon and 3.30 to 9 pm daily.

Annapurna Temple: It is located next to the Vishwanath temple was built in the 18th century by Peshwa Baji Rao I. The idol of Annapurna Bhavani (the provider of food), a benevolent form of Shakti, made in solid gold and carrying a cooking pot is housed here. There is also a striking silver-faced image of Shani (Saturn) in the temple. Shani is feared for his destructive powers and is propitiated to prevent any ill befalling the devout.

Nepali Temple: It is located on Lalita Ghat that was constructed by the late King of Nepal. It is made of wood brought from Nepal; the walls have exquisite and lively carvings. It is also known as ‘mini Khajuraho’.

Man Mandir Palace: The archeological survey of India (ASI) has rediscovered the art behind the science of Man Mandir Palace, the third observatory by the creator of Jantar Mantar, hidden for decades under a coat of crude lime plaster. King Man Singh of Amber, Rajasthan, built this palace and the observatory houses five astronomical instruments for the study of the heavenly bodies.

Pandit Malaviya Temple: Pandit Malaviya wished to see Hinduism revived without its caste distinctions and prejudices – accordingly, unlike many temples in Varanasi, this temple is open to all, irrespective of caste or religion. The interior has a Siva lingam and verses from Hindu scriptures inscribed on the walls and is supposed to be a replica of the earlier Vishwanath Temple destroyed by Aurangazeb. It is open between 4 am and noon, and 1 and 9 pm.

Jateshwar Mahadev: This temple in Karnaghata, houses a black stone statue of Shiva and has tantric overtones. Locals believe that a devotee must offer prayers at this place before visiting Vishwanath Temple.

Alamgir Mosque: It is popularly known as Beni Madhav Ka Darera, was originally a Vishnu temple, and is now a mix of Hindu and Mughal styles of architecture that is worth seeing.

Gyanvapi Mosque: Emperor Aurangzeb on the ruins of an ancient temple constructed this mosque. There are rare specimens of ancient temple art are still evident in the foundation and at the rear of the mosque.

Great Mosque of Aurangzeb: The mosque has minarets towering 71m above the Ganges and was constructed using columns from the Bineswar temple razed by Aurangzeb that is also worth seeing.


A tourist to Benaras must make it a point to visit the Ramnagar Fort and Sarnath, both situated on the outskirts of this city. The former, situated on the opposite bank of the Ganges, is the residential palace of the former Maharaja of Benaras. The hall of public audience (Durbar Hall) and the royal museum housing collections of palanquins, elephant saddles, arms, furniture, costumes, etc., are of great interest. At the other end of the city is Sarnath, where in the fabled deer park, Lord Buddha preached his sermon enshrining the principles of his teaching into laws. There is a stupa and a large complex of ruined monasteries. Nearby also stands the Ashoka Pillar commemorating the Mauryan emperor’s visit to the place more than 2,000 years back. The archeological museum located nearby holds a rich collection of items belonging to the Kushan and Gupta periods as well as from the Ashokan era.

Sarnath: It is located around 10 Kms from Varanasi. This place is sacred to Buddhists.  Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightenment at this place. This serene Buddhist enclave is where Lord Buddha turned the 12 ‘wheels of Dhamma’. Archaeologists have found remains dating to 260 BC.  Visit the brickwork Chaukhandi Stupa built by Goverdhan, son of Raja Todarmal in 1588 to commemorate Mughal emperor Humayun’s visit at this place and the Tibetan temple. Dharmarajika stupa was built by king Ashoka that is surmounted by a pillar. This pillar with four lions that forms the national emblem of India. The archaeological museum houses the Ashokan Pillar in the central hall.

Dharmarajika Stupa: The 110 ft tall Damekh Stupa marks the place where Buddha preached first sermon. Sarnath has been a premier center for Buddhism. It is a rich collection of ancient Buddhist relics and antiques comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisatva images on display at the Archaeological Museum.

Ramnagar Fort: It was built in 17th century that is the home of the former king of Benaras. It is situated on the opposite bank of the Ganges along which the city of Varanasi thrives that looks very impressive from the river. Its museum contains old silver and brocade palanquins, gold-plated elephant howdahs, an astrological clock, macabre elephant traps and an armory of swords and old guns. The most important construction inside the fort is the ‘Durbar Hall’ or the Hall of public audience.

Archaeological Museum: It is located in Sarnath. The main attraction at this museum is the Ashokan pillar with the symbol of four back-to-back lions that is adopted as the state symbol of present day India. Other finds from the site include many figures and sculptures from the various periods. You may see the earliest Buddha image that was found at Sarnath apart from Buddha figures in various positions dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries and many images of Hindu gods from 9th to 12th centuries. The museum is open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily, closed on Fridays.

A.B.C. Art Gallery: It holds exhibition of contemporary art mainly paintings that is open only during the winters from October to March.

Government Museum: The collector, F.S. Growse in 1874, founded this museum. The collections were shifted to the present building in 1930. It consists archeological finds from the Mathura region. The vast collection includes stone sculptures, bas reliefs, architectural fragments, inscriptions of various faiths and creeds, coins, terracotta, inscribed bricks, pottery pieces, clay seals, bronze objects and paintings. The museum has the richest and most important collection of the Mathura School of Sculptures of 3rd century B.C – 12th century A.D.


Chunar fort: The fort of Chunar located about 37 kms away from Varanasi from the vantage point at the northern extremity of the Kaimur hills that is famous for its close association with the Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri. It is also associated with Chunargarh of ‘Chandrakanta’, the classic novel by Babu Devakinandan Khatri. The impressive sandstone battlements of Chunar command a meander in the Ganges before the river curves north to Varanasi. The evidence of the earliest occupation of the site dates it to Vikramaditya of Ujjain in 56 BC. Chunar sandstone has been used for centuries, most famously in Ashokan pillars and is still quarried, leaving the surrounding hills looking ravaged in places.

Jaunpur: It is located 65 kms from Varanasi. This bustling town 58 km north-west of Varanasi sees few travelers but is of interest to architectural historians for its mosques, which are built in an unique style that is part Islamic and part Hindu and Jain. In 1360 Feroz Shah Tuglaq built this town to guard the eastern side of his Delhi sultanate on an ancient site. Jaunpur became the capital of the independent Muslim Sharqui kingdom. The most impressive mosques were constructed between 1394 and 1478. They were built on ruins of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples and shrines, and are notable for their odd mixture of architectural styles, their two storey arcades, large gateways and their unusual minarets. The modest but well-maintained Jaunpur Fort, built by Feroz Shah in 1360, overlooks the Gomti River. If you continue 500 m north from here then you come to the Atala Masjid, built in 1408 on the site of a Hindu temple dedicated to Atala Devi. Another 500 m northwest is the largest and most impressive of the mosques, the Jama Masjid, built between 1438 and 1478. Other places to see include the Jhanjhri Masjid, the tombs of the Sharqul sultans, the Char Ungil Masjid and the Lal Darwaza Masjid. The River Gomti bisects it and the massive Akbari Bridge connects the two sides. This bridge was built in the 16th century that was designed by an Afghan. The fifteen stone arches of the bridge have withstood earthquakes and floods. On the southern end of the bridge is the sculpture of a lion tussling with an elephant. This marked the provincial milestone. Other places to visit in Jaunpur are Sheetla Chowkia Dham, Yamdagni Ashram, Atla Mosque and Char Anguli ki Masjid.

Vindhyachal: It is located 90 Kms from Varanasi. There are many Shaktipeeths in India. These are the places where the Goddess of power is said to be residing and people worship her viz- Goddess Durga. Vindhyachal is one of such peeths or abode of Shakti. The temples of Vindhyavasini Devi, Asthbhuja and Kalikhoh are a must visit.

Kaushambi: It is located 185 kms from Varanasi. The mention of this town can be seen in the Mahabharata. It is said that the Pandav brothers lived here. Buddha visited this place many times and gave sermons after his enlightenment in 6th and 9th century. Kaushambi developed as a major center for Buddhism. The ruins of an old fort tell the saga of the towns’ antiquity.

Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary: It is located around 55 kms from Varanasi that was established in 1997. Chandra Prabha Sanctuary is a small sanctuary sprawling over an area of 78 sq. kms that is located on Naugarh and Vijaigarh hillocks in Vindhya forest range, in Chandauli district. Although it is one of India’s lesser-known sanctuaries, it is well endowed with beautiful picnic spots, dense forests, and scenic waterfalls like Rajdari and Devdari that attract tourists.

Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary: It is located about 130 km from Varanasi on the Uttar Pradesh – Bihar border that is spread over an area of 500 sq km and is worth visiting. The wildlife population comprises leopard, blackbuck, chital, chinkara, ratel and peafowl. Kaimoor is accessible by road from Varanasi and Mirzapur. The nearest town is Roberts Ganj, 3 km away that is connected by bus services to major centers in the region.

Tanda Falls: It is located about 88 km from Varanasi. It is a scenic spot with dense forest and a waterfall worth visiting to avoid regular touristy spots.


Banarasi Sarees & Silk: Shopping for brocades and Benarasi silk is a time-honored tradition in this ancient town, renowned the world over for its weaving skills. The original brocade silk saris are expensive. Be cautious and try to find genuine article instead of picking up a look alike for a fraction of the cost of the original. You may explore the popular Godoulia Market and its warren of twisty lanes for original stuffs.

Handicrafts, Rugs & Carpets: UP Handlooms is a safe bet for souvenirs and silks. You should look for the famous hand-knotted carpets of Mirzapur if you are in a mood to splurge. Other must buys are copper and brassware items. If you are visiting Varanasi in mango season try Benaras’s special mango variety langda mangoes and at last but not the least try the legendary Benarasi paan. The main shopping hubs in Benaras are Godoulia, Vishwanath Gali, Gyanvapi, Chowk and Thatheri Baazar.


By Air: Varanasi is well connected by air to major cities in India. Babatpur airport is located 22 Kms from the city. It is on the popular daily tourist service Delhi-Agra-Khajuraho-Benaras route.

By Train: Benaras has two railway stations-Kashi and Benaras Junction. It has the Cant railway station (Cantonment Station) as its main station. This is a major railway junction and connects the city with major places in India. The nearby Mughal Sarai railway Junction is one of the major railway junctions in the region with almost all the trains from the East, North East and some trains for South and Western region cross this station.

By Road: Varanasi is situated on the national highway number 2 from Kolkata to Delhi. It is well connected by roads to the major cities in India.


Winter: Varanasi has a pleasant winter with a daytime temperature of around 20°C. The temperature can as low as 10°C in late December and January with heavy fog in the early morning hours. October-November and February-March are usually comfortable and sunny.

Summer: The summer season is, however, harsh in Benaras (Benares). Beginning from April to June, it is extremely dry and daytime temperatures often climb up to 45°C.

Monsoon: The monsoon season, which starts by late June or early July, brings torrential rains and high humidity. By late September weather turns comfortable.

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