Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India and an important part of Buddhism. This city on the banks of the Ganges holds many secrets and unusual places, Epicwander strongly recommends you to visit Varanasi and you can find some useful tips in the article below.
Morning Boat Ride
Firstly, we would strongly recommend taking a morning boat ride, as it is a truly amazing experience. For the best views and sensations, it is better to go to the ghats before the sunrise, around 5 or 5.30 AM. You will be able to see the sun floating in the middle of Ganga. Before going on a boat trip, buy a cup of chai to take along with you. For three people you will not pay more than 150 – 200 rupees for a one-hour boat ride. In fact, if the boatman is nice enough, chai will be on him.
Breakfast at Bana Lassi
Secondly, consider having a breakfast at Bana Lassi. It is located near Dashashvamedha Ghat in Bengali Tola. Apparently, they offer visitors best lassi in Varanasi, possibly in the entire India. Staff and prices are really friendly and they also have a little second-hand bookshop. One of the few places throughout the India, where you can hear Bob Marley or Queen playing all day long.
Chai at Pandey Ghat
After visiting amazing sites of Varanasi, consider ordering a cup of chai at Pandey Ghat. It opens in the evening when the heat is already gone. You can just sit there and observe the vivid life of the Varanasi ghats while sipping chai. You will certainly meet new people willing to chat as there are always a lot of travellers, both international and national. Somebody is always playing either a guitar or a flute and the atmosphere is very laid-back.
Cultural Shock on the Ghats
Ghats are in the heart of Varanasi and there you can witness a very distinctive cultural significance of India. It is an autopsy of Varanasi‘s cultural and spiritual existence. You can find there Brahmins discussing philosophical questions, aghoris meditating surrounded by skulls, kids playing, people washing clothes, bathing in Ganga, performing pooja, washing cattle. Simply, life is happening there on the ghats. Preferably, take a walk around the afternoon, otherwise, the heat will be unbearable. It is free yet one of the most memorable experiences in Varanasi.
Jimi Hendrix Dinner
For a good dinner option, head to the Hendrix’s and have a potato mash as it is top-notch. The place is called New Baba Restaurant & Icecream Parlour and it is located in Bengali Tola. This venue offers great service, low prices and good food. Interestingly, in the restaurant, there are multiple photographs of the owner from when he was younger and, guess what, he looked just like The Great Master Jimi. That is why locals refer to this place as Hendrix‘s.
Old Town Walk
For a relaxed sightseeing consider taking a walk in the old town. It is probably one of the most magical places in Varanasi. The architecture is incredibly charming, so let yourself roam free in narrow streets of Benares. Do this in the noon, as the old town is way more chilly and breezy than the other parts of the town during the day.
Picturesque Boat Trip
Ganga will give you different impressions throughout the day, therefore, think about taking an evening boat ride. Try to do it simultaneously with the evening pooja at the Ganga, as it looks even more beautiful when you are seeing it from the river. You are bound to get an incomparable impression of India that will last in memory long after the trip.
Numerous Events in Varanasi
Look for workshops, concerts, or any kind of events as there are tonnes of travellers in Varanasi that organise different types of events that are usually free or very cheap. It is a great chance to experience totally unique things and meet new people. You will get the sense of Varanasi‘s inner cultural life. Posters are usually hanging around the old town – in bookstores and gift shops. Also, you can always ask around at chai place in Pandey Ghat.
Mona Lisa Cafe
Have coffee at Mona Lisa cafe, in Bengali Tola. We strongly recommend it, because it is a place that travellers really love. They offer different types of food, perhaps four different types of coffee, which are simply precious when you are in India. In fact, their prices are very friendly. Also, they have a little hostel that is located nearby, in the old town in case you are looking for a place to stay.
Fire Ritual On Ganga
Varanasi is one of the destinations, where Aarti ritual is performed. Every evening locals offer fire on the Ganga river to the Goddess. We would strongly recommend it for picturesque views and an authentic experience of local spirituality. For this ritual in Varanasi head to the holy Dasaswamedh Ghat near Kashi Vishwanath Temple right before the sunset.
Varanasi has a lot to offer to its visitors. As soon as you will arrive at this city on the Ganga river, you will immediately experience the spiritual atmosphere of the city. Varanasi is a perfect destination to explore the undiscovered culture and fascinating traditions.