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Difference between revisions of "Varanasi"

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[[Image:Varanasikedarghat.JPG|thumb|400px|Pilgrims bathing at Kedar Ghat at sunrise]]
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{{pagebanner|Varanasi Banner.jpg}}[[Image:Varanasikedarghat.JPG|thumb|400px|Pilgrims bathing at Kedar Ghat at sunrise]]
 
==Understand==
 
==Understand==
  
'''Varanasi''' [http://www.varanasi.nic.in], once known as '''Benares''' or '''Banaras''' and '''Kashi''', is a historical city in northern [[India]]. The city is sacred to Hindus and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. In many ways Varanasi epitomizes the very best and worst aspects of India, and it can be a little overwhelming. However, the scene of pilgrims doing their devotions in the River Ganges at sunrise set against the backdrop of the centuries old temples is probably one of the most impressive sights in the world.  Some people believe that Varanasi is a must see destination on any trip to northern India.  Others do not find it particularly interesting to see Hindus bathing themselves in the Ganges, and are turned off by the feces that floods the Ganges and covers the alleys of Varanasi.
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'''Varanasi''' [http://www.varanasi.nic.in], once known as '''Benares''' or '''Banaras''' and '''Kashi''', is a historical city in northern [[India]]. The city is sacred to Hindus and Jains and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with settlements dating back to the 11th century BC. Many Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi brings salvation/nirvana and so they make the trip to the city when they realize that they are close to death. For some, the culture shock of the burning corpses in plain view and the feces overflowing from the Ganges can be a bit overwhelming. However, the scene of pilgrims doing their devotions in the River Ganga at sunrise set against the backdrop of the centuries old temples is probably one of the most impressive sights in the world.
  
 
The city can be scorchingly hot in the summer months so, if possible, time your visit to fall between October and March, and bring something warm to wear for chilly days and nights, instead.
 
The city can be scorchingly hot in the summer months so, if possible, time your visit to fall between October and March, and bring something warm to wear for chilly days and nights, instead.
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==Get in==
 
==Get in==
  
Varanasi is well connected by train and bus, with multiple of each heading in every direction daily. The trains and buses are dirty and overcrowded by Western standards.
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Varanasi is well connected by plane, train, and bus. The trains and buses are dirty and overcrowded.
  
===By train===
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===By plane===
Trains are the easiest way to reach Varanasi, with multiple daily services to cities including [[Delhi]], [[Agra]], [[Lucknow]], [[Mumbai]] and [[Kolkata]].
+
  
Varanasi is served by two major railway stations. Many trains arrive at '''Varanasi Junction (IR station code : BSB)''' in the heart of the city, and many others arrive at '''Mughal Sarai Junction (IR station code : MGS)''', about 15 km east of the city (Rs 20, 45 min in a rickshaw). If travelling to/from '''Agra/Tundla''', Mughal Sarai is a more convenient station.
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'''Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport''' ({{IATA|VNS}}) is located 25km northwest of the city center. A taxi to/from the airport takes an hour and costs ₹750, while a tuk-tuk/auto-rickshaw can take twice as long and costs ₹500. Allow extra time due to traffic. Air India [http://www.airindia.com/], JetKonnect [http://www.jetkonnect.com/], SpiceJet [http://www.spicejet.com/], and IndiGo [http://www.goindigo.in/] all operate regular flights to [[Delhi]], [[Mumbai]], [[Kolkata]], [[Bengaluru]], [[Hyderabad]], [[Khajuraho]], and [[Visakhapatnam]]. There are flights to [[Kathmandu]] on Buddha Air, flights to [[Colombo]] on Mihin Lanka Airlines, and flights to [[Bangkok]] on Thai Airways.
  
Here is a list of useful trains to reach Varanasi:
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Its easy to get a state-run bus to city center, which costs less than half a dollar. Bus stand is 10 minutes walking distance from airport.
  
You may check informations about about train / flight with www.indiatajmahaltour.com. A company which offers daily trip to taj mahal from Delhi
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===By train===
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There are multiple daily services to cities including [[Delhi]] (13 hours), [[Agra]] (13 hours), [[Lucknow]] (7 hours), [[Mumbai]], and [[Kolkata]].  
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Varanasi is served by three major railway stations:
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* '''Varanasi Junction (IR station code : BSB)''' - the trip between the train station and the Ganges-area costs ₹100 in a tuk-tuk.
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* '''Manduadih Railway Station'''  - the trip between the train station and the Ganges-area costs ₹100 in a tuk-tuk.
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* '''Mughal Sarai Junction (IR station code : MGS)''', about 20km east of the city  - the trip between the train station and the Ganges-area costs ₹500 in a taxi.
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Here is a list of useful trains to reach Varanasi:
  
 
{| class="wikitable", border="1"
 
{| class="wikitable", border="1"
Line 39: Line 46:
 
|Shivganga Express
 
|Shivganga Express
 
|New [[Delhi]]
 
|New [[Delhi]]
|Varanasi Junction
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|Manduadih [[Varanasi]]
 
|-
 
|-
 
|[http://www.indianrail.gov.in/inet_trn_num.html 12165]
 
|[http://www.indianrail.gov.in/inet_trn_num.html 12165]
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===By bus===
 
===By bus===
There are daily buses to the [[Nepal]]i border and other points around northern India. Local buses leave from the main bus station near the train station, almost every hour in the morning and one in the evening, to Gorakhpur (5-6 hrs, Rs 120), from where buses leave to the Nepali border at [[Sonauli]] (~3 hrs, Rs 56).
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The bus station in Varanasi is located just east of the Varanasi Junction train station. A tuk-tuk from the bus station to the Ganges area costs ₹100.
  
There are buses run by state government from Lucknow (8hrs), Kanpur (9hrs - Rs. 195) and Allahabad(3hrs - Rs. 88)
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====Arriving from Nepal====
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Buses are available from major cities in [[Nepal]] to the border city of [[Sunauli]]. From the Sunauli bus station, take a rickshaw (200 NPR) to the border crossing, get your passport stamped on the Nepali side then walk through the border. After 100m of walking through no-man's land, you will find the Indian immigration office hidden away on the left hand side of the road. After going through Indian immigration, walk 300m and find the bus stop on the right hand side. From there, take the government bus to [[Gorakhpur]], not the private lines which are far less comfortable and stop everywhere. The bus trip between the border and Gorakhpur takes 4 hours and costs ₹60. To reach Varanasi from Gorakhpur, you can either take a train from the Gorakhpur Junction train station (5-7 trains per day, 5.5-7 hour journey, ₹200-800 cost) or a bus (hourly, 8+ hour journey, ₹130 cost).
  
Bus tickets can also be bought online via [http://www.pombai.com Pombai].
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====Arriving from other cities in India====
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There are buses run by state government from [[Lucknow]] (8 hours, ₹160), [[Gorakhpur]] (8+ hours, ₹130), [[Khajuraho]] (12 hours, ₹250), [[Kanpur]] (9 hours - ₹195), [[Faizabad]] (7 hours, ₹105), [[Bodhgaya]] (7 hours, ₹250) and [[Allahabad]] (3 hours - ₹107 for AC, ₹60 w/o AC).
  
===By plane===
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==Get around==
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Note that many streets are too narrow to be reached by cycle-rickshaw, auto-rickshaw, and car and therefore, you may have to walk a bit to reach your destination.
  
'''Varanasi Airport''' ({{IATA|VNS}}) is about 25km from the city center. Indian Airlines [http://indian-airlines.nic.in/], Jet Airways/JetLite [http://www.jetairways.com/], Kingfisher [http://www.flykingfisher.com/] and SpiceJet [http://www.spicejet.com/] all have daily flights to [[Delhi]] and there are daily flights to [[Mumbai]] on JetLite ,Indian Airlines and SpiceJet.
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===By foot===
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[[Image:Varanasi_alleys.jpg|thumb|Typical alley in Varanasi]]
  
Allow plenty of time to get to the airport, it can take an hour or more depending on traffic. A taxi (from the pre-paid stand just outside the terminal) should run around Rs 600-700 (plus Rs40 parking toll) or about Rs 125 in an auto-rickshaw, but most drivers will want to charge double since they will likely be coming back empty.
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'''By foot''' is the only way to see the waterfront and the ghats - but be ready to be hot, sweaty, and lost - locals are usually happy to point you in the right direction. The names of ghats and signs pointing to restaurants and hotels are often painted on the walls in Roman letters. For better orientation, walk into any book store and pick up a small guide/map book that will have the list of all the ghats and their historical background.
  
==Get around==
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'''Walking Tours''' are operated by many companies, with the cheapest being the [http://www.stopshostels.com/#!facilities/cni1 daily tours operated by Stops Hostel] (₹100 plus transportation, 3 hours). Walking tours are a great way to see some of the harder-to-find sights such as the Flower Market and Ayurvedic Herb Market.
Many of the sights are in the tiny narrow winding alleys of the waterfront. '''Rickshaws''' are only useful for longer trips across town or to the train stations. A cycle-rickshaw from the Junction train station to Dasaswamedh Ghat (or Godaulia if the road is closed) should cost Rs 20, an auto rickshaw about Rs 70. From Godaulia to Assi Ghat is Rs 10. '''Taxis''' exist but traffic makes them impractical. There is a pre-paid auto-rickshaw stand at the Varanasi Junction (Cantt) train station, however if you go with this option make sure to keep your prepaid receipt until the end of your journey, or your driver may not take you the whole way. Rs55 is enough to get to the old town.
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'''By foot''' is the only way to see the waterfront and the ghats but be ready to be hot, sweaty, and lost - locals are usually happy to point you in the right direction. The names of ghats and signs pointing to restaurants and hotels are often painted on the walls in Roman letters. For better orientation, walk into any book store and pick up a small guide/map book that will have the list of all the ghats and their historical background.
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===By cycle-rickshaw and auto-rickshaw===
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The chaotic streets of Varanasi are sometimes too much to handle by foot. Therefore, it will often be convenient to travel by cycle rickshaw or auto-rickshaw. A short journey of a few kilometers should cost under ₹50, while a longer journey within the city, such as between the ghats and the train station, will cost ₹100. Further journeys, such as to [[Sarnath]] (10km), cost ₹200 each way by auto-rickshaw.
  
'''By car''' There are many car rental companies available.
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There is a pre-paid auto-rickshaw stand at the Varanasi Junction (Cantt) train station.  
  
* <listing name="Sankrit Taxi services" alt="Varanasi Car Rental or Taxi" address="Near Goverment Tourist Office" directions="Opp. Railway station" phone="+91 964 800 0010" url="http://www.travelagencyinvaranasi.com/getting-around.html" hours="Call us 24 hrs X 7" price="Fares starting from 700 for within city and Rs.7/km for outstation" lat="" long="" email="sankrittourzone@gmail.com" fax="+91 524 2200201">Sarnath Tour(4 hrs) - INR 800 / 4 Temples Tour(4 hrs) - INR 700, Bodhgaya(Same day Tour) - INR 5000/ Allahabad(Same day Tour) - INR 2800
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===By car or taxi===
</listing>
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While taxis and cars-for-hire do exist, traffic makes them impractical.
  
* <listing name="taxiGUIDE.in" alt="Varanasi Car Rental" address="" directions="" phone="+91 888 023 4455" url="http://www.taxiguide.in/TourPackages/Varanasi_Car_Rental.aspx" hours="Inquiry: 7am to 11pm" price="Fares starting Rs.1222 for within city and Rs.9.5/km for outstation" lat="" long="" email="support@taxiguide.in" fax=""></listing>
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===By bicycle===
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Bicycle rental is available from many vendors. Inquire at your hotel.
  
* <listing name="Clear Car Rental Pvt Ltd" alt="Varanasi Car Rental" address="" directions="" phone="+91 888 885 5220" url="http://www.clearcarrental.com/varanasi"></listing>
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==See==
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Varanasi is not a city with distinct tourist destinations; the experience is in watching the spectacle of life and death on the river and meandering through the alleys of the old city.
  
* '''"Bikes on Rent"''' is one of its type services being offered first time in Varanasi by '''"Oza Travels n Bike Rentals"'''. It is exclusively available for tourists only. Their range of bikes include Pulsar, Apache, Discover, Platina, and Royal Enfield also.  
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===Ghats and the River Ganges===
For availing this service, you can contact through phone on 91-95803 60440 or email at http://mailto:rajesh.oza7@gmail.com.
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{{infobox|Floating away|While the use of ghats for cremation is well known, they are also used to give last rites to those who do ''not'' need cleansing by fire to purify their soul, including young children and pregnant women.  Instead, their bodies are wrapped in cloth, weighted with stones and eased into the Ganga.  However, it is fairly common for the ropes to give way, resulting in '''putrefying corpses''' washing up on the east shore across from the city. Steer clear if squeamish.}}
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[[Image:Varanasi_ghats.jpg|thumb|Dasaswamedh Ghat (main ghat)]]
  
==See==
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The River Ganga is a sacred river for the Hindus and you will see traditional rituals and bathing occurring at all times of the day. On the Eastern banks, the River Ganga is flanked by a 300m wide sand belt, beyond which lies a green belt, a protected area reserved for turtle breeding. The western crescent-shaped bank of the River Ganga is flanked by a continuous stretch of 84 '''ghats''', or series of steps leading down to the river, stretching for 6.8km. These ghats were built by Hindu kings who wanted to die along the Ganges, and they built lofty palaces along the river, most of which are now hotels, to spend their final days. You can walk along the river and see all of the ghats, but the best option for viewing the ghats is to charter a boat and see them from the river.
[[Image:Newvishvanathtemple.JPG|thumb|New Vishvanath Temple at BHU]]
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Varanasi is not a city with distinct tourist destinations as such: instead, the experience is in watching the spectacle of life and death on the river and meandering through the alleys of the old city.
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Hindus consider it auspicious to die in Varanasi, so some ghats are known as '''burning ghats''', where over 200+ corpses per day are cremated in full view before their ashes are eased into the Ganga.
  
* '''Vishwanath Temple''' - also known as the Golden Temple, security is tight making entrance difficult and sometimes completely off limits to foreigners. No bags, cellphones or pens are allowed. They can be deposited in the shops by the temple entrance. The temple was destroyed multiple times by Mughal invaders and was re-constructed by Hindu kings who followed them.
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Some of the most popular ghats, from north to south:
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* '''Panchganga Ghat''' - the meeting of the five rivers
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* '''Manikarnika Ghat''' - the main cremation ghat; a must-see, but remain quiet and never take photographs (note: scams are plentiful here; see the "Staying Safe" section)
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* '''Dasaswamedh Ghat''' - known as the 'main' ghat, this is the site of the large evening ''aarti'' ceremony
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* '''Rana Ghat'''
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* '''Kedar Ghat''' - brightly painted in stripes and busy with bathers, very photogenic
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* '''Narad Ghat''' - the ghat on which bathing with spouse is not advised because the legend of contention
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* '''Harishchandra Ghat''' - the cremation place where Raja Harishchandra did the last rituals of his son.
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* '''Hanuman Ghat'''
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* '''Shivala Ghat'''
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* '''Tulsi Ghat''' - site of the large water purification plant
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* '''Assi Ghat''' - a popular place to stay, with many hotels, restaurants, and internet cafes
  
* '''Kaal Bhairav Temple''' - is the temple for '''Kaal Bhairav''' - a dreadful form of Lord Shiva symbolizing death. Its a tradition to buy black threads (costs about Rs. 15 per 50 threads as of Sep 2009), keep it in the shrine and then wear it on the arm, wrist or around the neck as a protection against evil forces.
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===Religious buildings===
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[[Image:Newvishvanathtemple.JPG|thumb|New Vishvanath Temple at BHU]]
  
* '''Nepali Hindu Temple''' - A small golden temple, built in Nepali architecture, near Lalita Ghat
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* <see name="Alamagir Mosque" alt="" address="" directions="overlooking Panchganga Ghat" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">a great place for a bird's eye view of the area.</see>
  
* '''Alamagir Mosque''' - overlooking Panchganga Ghat, it's a great place for a bird's eye view of the area.
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* <see name="Durga Temple" alt="" address="" directions="" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price=""></see>
  
* '''Man Mandir Observatory'''
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* <see name="Gauri Matha Temple" alt="" address="" directions="" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">The devi at this temple is supposed to be the sister of the lord Kashi Vishwanath. Its a tradition to visit here just before you leave Kashi. You buy sea shells at this place and offer them to God saying that the virtues of donating the shells goes to her while you keep the virtues of having visited the holy shrines in Kashi and bathing in the ganga. The trip to Kashi is expected to yield results only after completing this custom.</see>
  
* '''Tulsi Manas Temple'''
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* <see name="Kaal Bhairav Temple" alt="" address="" directions="" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">Dedicated to Kaal Bhairav, a dreaded form of the Lord in Shiva avatar symbolizing death. Its a tradition to buy a black thread (Rs. 15), sanctify it in the shrine, then wear it on the arm, wrist or around the neck as protection against evil.</see>
  
* '''Durga Temple'''
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* <see name="Nepali Hindu Temple" alt="" address="" directions="near Lalita Ghat" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">A small golden temple, built in Nepali architecture</see>
  
* '''Banaras Hindu University''' - a very green and peaceful campus. Few actually know that this University was built during Indian freedom struggle and is known as Oxford of the East. This is the largest residential university of Asia, having approx. 124 independent departments. You can also visit Bharat Kala Bhavan, a museum of Art and Archeology inside the university. There is also a huge white marbled temple called Vishwanath Temple which was bulit by Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of the university.
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* <see name="Shri Kashi Vishwanth Temple" alt="Golden Temple" address="" directions="" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://shrikashivishwanath.org/" hours="" price="">Security is tight making entrance difficult and sometimes completely off limits to foreigners. No bags, cellphones or pens are allowed. They can be deposited in the shops by the temple entrance. The temple was destroyed multiple times by Mughal invaders and was re-constructed by Hindu kings who followed them.</see>
* '''Sarnath''' - It is believed that in Sarnath Buddha gave his first sermon to his disciples after getting enlightenment. There is also a Museum in Sarnath. The exact location is also known as Deer Park. Sarnath is 13 Km from Varanasi and is very peaceful. Several Asian countries have built Buddhist temples there following their own ancient architectural traditions.
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* '''Ram Nagar Fort''' - the fort of the King of Kashi which is situated at the other side of the river.  
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* <see name="Sankat Mochan Temple" alt="" address="" directions="" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">The famous Hanuman temple, home to thousands of monkeys. Securiy is tight, mobile phones, keys etc. are not allowed inside the temple as a result of moslem terrorist bomb blasts; and as you enter you will be greeted by the sight of hundreds of monkeys on the premises. Beware- they may snatch from you if they see you carrying boxes or packets of food. Inside the temple you will find stacks of hanuman chalisa text for the use of devotees. </see>
  
* '''Gauri Matha Temple''' - The devi at this temple is supposed to be the sister of the lord Kashi Vishwanath. Its a tradition to visit her just before you leave Kashi. You buy sea shells at this place and offer them to the God saying that the virtues of donating the shells goes to her while you keep the virtues of having visited the holy shrines in Kashi and bathing in the ganges. The trip to Kashi is expected to yield results only after completing this custom.
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* '''[[Sarnath]]''' (10km from Varanasi) - It is believed that in Sarnath Buddha gave his first sermon to his disciples after getting enlightenment. There is also a Museum in Sarnath. The location is also known as Deer Park. Sarnath is 13 Km from Varanasi and is very peaceful. Several Asian countries have built Buddhist temples there following their own ancient architectural traditions.
  
===Ghats===
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* <see name="Tulsi Manas Temple" alt="" address="" directions="" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price=""></see>
{{infobox|Floating away|While the use of ghats for cremation is well known, they are also used to give last rites to those who do ''not'' need cleansing by fire to purify their soul, including young children and pregnant women.  Instead, their bodies are wrapped in cloth, weighted with stones and deposited into the Ganges.  However, it is fairly common for the ropes to give way, resulting in '''putrefying corpses''' washing up on the east shore across from the city.  Steer clear if squeamish.}}
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[[Image:Varanasi_ghats.jpg|thumb|Dasaswamedh Ghat (main ghat)]]
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A '''''ghat''''' is a series of steps leading down to the river, used by bathers and pilgrims, and riverside Varanasi consists of a long sequence of these.  It's generally possible to walk directly between them, though near Manikarnika Ghat you'll have to navigate your way up and around through the alleyways.  The best option for viewing the ghats is to charter a boat and see them from the river.
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Hindus consider it auspicious to die in Varanasi, so some ghats are known as '''burning ghats''', where bodies are cremated (in full view) before their ashes are placed in the Ganges.
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===Other sights===
 +
[[Image:Ramnagar Fort.JPG|thumb|Ramnagar Fort]]
  
Some of the main ghats, from north to south:
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* <see name="Banaras Hindu University" alt="" address="" directions="" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.bhu.ac.in/" hours="" price="">A very green and peaceful campus. Few actually know that this University was built during the Indian freedom struggle and is known as Oxford of the East. This is the largest residential university of Asia, with 124 departments. You can also visit Bharat Kala Bhavan, a museum of Art and Archeology inside the university. There is also a huge white marbled temple called Vishwanath Temple which was bulit by Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of the university.</see>
*'''Panchganga Ghat''' - the meeting of the five rivers
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*'''Manikarnika Ghat''' - the main cremation ghat; a must-see, but remain quiet and never take photographs (note: scams are plentiful here; see the "Staying Safe" section)
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*'''Dasaswamedh Ghat''' - the main ghat and site of the large evening ''aarti''; only reachable by foot at some times of day, about a 5 minute walk south from Godaulia
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*'''Rana Ghat'''
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*'''Kedar Ghat''' - brightly painted in stripes and busy with bathers, very photogenic
+
*'''Narad Ghat''' - the ghat on which bathing with spouse is not advised because the myth of contention
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*'''Harishchandra Ghat''' - the cremation place were Raja Harishchandra did the last rituals of his son.
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*'''Hanuman Ghat'''
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*'''Shivala Ghat'''
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*'''Tulsi Ghat''' - site of the large water purification plant
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*'''Assi Ghat''' - a popular place to stay with many hotels, restaurants and internet cafes
+
  
===Festivals===
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* <see name="Chunar Fort" alt="" address="" directions="15km southwest of Varanasi" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">A 2,000+ year old fort.</see>
  
* '''Diwali''' is a great time to be in Varanasi, with special preparations going on in many temples. The once-in-a-year decorations and ''aarti'' at the ghats are spectacular.
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* <see name="Kriti Gallery" alt="" address="Raman Niwas, Mahmoor Ganj, Varanasi" directions="opposite All India Radio Station" phone="9839058007" url="http://www.kritigallery.com/" hours="11-6 pm" price="" lat="" long="">A place to interact with contemporary art in the city of Varanasi.</see>
  
* '''Shivaratri''' is another great time to be in Varanasi. The day of Shivaratri is also the last day of the Dhrupad Mela, a festival of classic indian music going on night and day for three days. Since the date of the festival is decided by Hindu calendar, the date is never clear and changes every year.
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* <see name="Man Mandir Observatory" alt="" address="" directions="" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price=""></see>
  
==Do==
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* <see name="Ramnagar Fort" alt="" address="" directions="Located on the eastern bank of the river, opposite Tulsi Ghat" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">The fort of the King of Kashi. Built in 1750 in the Mughal style.</see>
  
 +
==Do==
 
[[Image:Varanasisunrise.JPG|thumb|Sunrise boat rides on the Ganges]]
 
[[Image:Varanasisunrise.JPG|thumb|Sunrise boat rides on the Ganges]]
  
*'''Bathe''' Over 60,000 people come down to the waters edge every day to take a dip in the sacred waters of the Ganges. Try not to think too much about the dozens of sewage pipes and sunken corpses in the waters around you and you'll find it's not nearly as bad as you expect once you're actually in it. Although medically, bathing in water in which a corpse rests risks infection with numerous blood borne diseases (notably hepatitis) and many infections.
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*'''Bathe in the Ganges''' - Over 60,000 people come to the ghats every day to take a dip in the sacred waters of the Ganga, most notably at sunrise. This is a fantastic sight to see. However, due to the sewage pipes that discharge feces into the river, along with sunken corpses, there is a risk of infection from numerous diseases such as hepatitis and bacteria such as e-coli. Reports have shown that the Ganges water has a fecal coliform MPN of 88,000 per 100ml, compared to a desirable fecal coliform MPN of 500 per 100ml.
  
* '''Boat rides''' are very popular, especially at sunrise and sunset. The most popular sunset ride is to start at Dasaswamedh Ghat and head up to Manikarnika Ghat to see the cremations in progress, and then return to Dasaswamedh and watch the evening ''aarti'' from the boat. Sunrise is another magical time for a ride, when the ghats are filled with Hindus bathing and starting their day - one of the most famous sights in India. You can bargain the price down to around Rs 30/person per hour (even for just 1 person in the boat), but expect to be quoted much higher &mdash; the current bargained down 'foreign tourist' rate for a boat ride is Rs 300! In fact there is a price limit set by the city in 1998 but still in force today that sets a price range from Rs 50 for boats up to four seats to a maximum of 125 for very large boats. (That's per hour and boat not per person.) At Dasaswamedh there is even a huge sign (in Hindi only) alerting tourists to that fact. If you go Nishadraj ghat, a few minutes walk from Assi, you can find a boat driver named Bhomi, a local singer renowned for his incredible voice and charming, beautiful songs; during the boat ride he sings anything from local folk songs to modern film songs and old devotional ones, and often improvises lyrics over his own songs to communicate with you and the various people gathered on the ghats.
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* '''Boat rides''' - Very popular, especially at sunrise and sunset. Boats can either be rowboats or motorboats. The most popular sunset ride is to start at Dasaswamedh Ghat or one of the many ghats along the river and head up to Manikarnika Ghat to see the cremations, then down to Dasaswamedh just after sunset to watch the evening ''aarti'' ceremony from the boat. Sunrise is another magical time for a ride, when the ghats are filled with Hindus bathing and starting their day - one of the most famous sights in India. You can bargain the price of the boat ride to around ₹50/person per hour. During the boat ride, other boats, usually manned by children, will float up to your boat to sell bowls with flowers and a candle to be offered to the river (₹10) or masala chai (₹10), or various trinkets that are overpriced. It is recommended to avoid polluting the river further by 'offering' non-biodegradable objects to the river. At Nishadraj Ghat, a few minutes walk from Assi Ghat, you can find a boat driver named Bhomi, a local singer renowned for his incredible voice and charming, beautiful songs; during the boat ride he sings anything from local folk songs to modern film songs and old devotional ones, and often improvises lyrics over his own songs to communicate with you and the various people gathered on the ghats.  
Otherwise, many hotels in Varanasi organise 'free' boat rides for you, the catch being that the 'free' portion of the ride is usually only half an hour, and after seeing 30mins of the river enough people agree to pay for more to make it worth their while.
+
[[Image:Varanasi_alleys.jpg|thumb|Typical alley in Varanasi]]
+
'''Sankrit Tour Zone''' has its extension counter on Dashaswamedh ghat which books Sunrise boating directly online and offline. Fixed rate shop with no bargaining. email: sankritabhishek@gmail.com or +91-9648000010.
+
  
During the trip "market boats" will float up to you selling overpriced trinkets which can be bought much cheaper on land. Any offers of flowers for puja will definitely not be free; Rs 2 per flower bowl and Rs 5 per candle bowl are the going rates, though as a tourist you might be asked for as much as Rs 100 each.
+
* '''Explore the alleyways ''' - The sounds, sight and smells are just unbelievable! Walk along the ghats and up to the sights.
  
*'''Walk''' Get lost in the alleyways - the sounds, sight and smells are just unbelievable! Walk along the ghats. Best way to explore Varanasi is by walk.
+
===Festivals===
  
+
* '''Chhath Pooja''' (October/November) - The four day festival for the sun god, Dala aka Surya. Rituals include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and aragh (alcohol) to the setting and rising sun.
*<do name="Kriti Gallery" alt="" address="Raman Niwas, Mahmoor Ganj, Varanasi" directions="opposite All India Radio Station" phone="9839058007" url="www.kritigallery.com" hours="11-6 pm" price="" lat="" long="">A place to interact with contemporary art in the city of Varanasi</do>
+
 
 +
* '''Deepavali''', or '''Diwali''' (October) - The five day festival of lights. The special decorations, ceremonies at the temples, and ''aarti'' ceremony at the ghats are spectacular.
 +
 
 +
* '''Maha Shivaratri''' (February) - A Hindu festival celebrating Lord Shiva, who lived in Varanasi according to Hindu mythology. On this day, the streets of Varanasi are filled with pilgrims and parades dedicated to Shiva occur all day. Entrance to temples will require long queue and the temples will be extremely crowded. The day of Shivaratri is also the last day of the Dhrupad Mela, a festival of "Hindustani" (a form of Indian classical music) that goes on night and day for about 72 hours.
 +
 
 +
===Volunteer opportunities===
 +
 
 +
* <do name="Sanjeevani Booti" alt="संजीवनी बूटी" address="Assi Ghat" directions="" phone="" email="info@booti.org" fax="" hours="" price="" url="http://www.booti.org/"> A sexual health, drug, and HIV education NGO.  There is always demand for foreigners to visit because there is always work related to public health education to be done.  A great volunteer opportunity.</do>
  
 
==Learn==
 
==Learn==
 +
===Yoga classes===
 +
Yoga classes are very popular among visitors to Varanasi.
  
* <do name="Hindi Language Center" alt="" address="B1\150 L-10 Assi" directions="near Banaras Hindu University" phone="91 9452247010" url="http://hinditeachervaranasi.com/" hours="" price="" lat="" long="" email="binitkumar_mishra@rediffmail.com" fax=""> Learn Hindi with teacher Binit Kumar Mishra.  Mr. Mishra can teach anyone enough Hindi in a few days to conduct the kinds of simple business that travelers must do every day. A little Hindi opens many doors.</do>
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* <listing name="Yoga Training Centre" alt="" directions="Near Meer Ghat" lat="" long="" address="D.5/15, Shakarkand Lane" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.landofyoga.com/yogatrainingcentre.html" hours="" price="">Run by Sunil Jhingan Kumar. Highly recommended.</listing>
  
* <do name="Sanjeevani Booti" alt="संजीवनी बूटी" address="Assi Ghat" directions="" phone="" email="info@booti.org" fax="" hours="" price="" url="http://www.booti.org"> A sexual health, drug, and HIV education NGO.  There is always demand for foreigners to visit because there is always work related to public health education to be done. A great volunteer opportunity.</do>
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* <listing name="Siddharth Yoga Center" alt="" directions="below Lotus Lounge Restaurant" lat="" long="" address="Mansarowar Ghat" phone="+91-92368 30966" tollfree="" email="yogisiddharth@sify.com" fax="" url="http://www.yogisiddharth.org/" hours="" price="">Small-group yoga classes with a view of the Ganges. Taught by Siddharth.</listing>
  
* <do name="'''Punarnava Health'''" alt="address= dumraon bag colony,Assi" directions="behind dumraon bag colony park" phone="+91 9453109313; Contact- Dr.Pramod Kumar." url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="" dumraon="Dumraon" bag="bag" direction="near Assi" email="drpramodbhu@gmail.com"> Ayurvedic treatment, Ayurvedic massage, Shirodhara, steam bath, leech therapy, health package, Panchkarma, etc. Learn Ayurvedic food habits, daily routine. '''Basics of Ayurveda course, massage therapy course.'''</do>
+
===Ayurveda treatment classes===
 +
Ayurveda treatment is common in Varanasi and you can take classes to learn the techniques:
  
* '''Yoga''' is also popular, and the same rules apply.
+
* <listing name="Punarnava Health" alt="" address="Raman Nivas Campus, Mahmoorganj," directions="In front of Radio Station" phone="+91 9453109313" email="drpramodbhu@gmail.com" url="http://www.punarnavahealth.in/" hours="" price="" lat="" long=""> Classes and treatments in Ayurvedic food habits, daily routine, massage, Shirodhara, steam bath, leech therapy, Panchkarma, etc....</listing>
  
* '''Benares Hindu University''' [http://www.bhu.ac.in] offers a wide range of classes on topics related to classical Indian studies in English.
+
===Language classes===
 +
* <listing name="Hindi Teacher Varanasi" alt="" address="B1/153, Ganga Math, Assi Ghat," directions="near Banaras Hindu University" phone="91 9452247010" url="http://hinditeachervaranasi.com/" hours="" price="" lat="" long="" email="info@hinditeachervaranasi.com" fax="">Classes in Hindi.</listing>
  
*''''''Super Lingua Solution'''''' a translation company based in Varansi, (Shop No. 17, ABC Tower, Sigra, Varanasi) may help you to bridge the gap of language. You can contact Rajesh Kumar Ojha-95803 60440, rajesh.oza7@gmail.com for any kind of help.
+
===Other classes===
 +
* <listing name="Benares Hindu University" alt="" directions="" lat="" long="" address="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.bhu.ac.in/" hours="" price="">offers a wide range of classes taught in English on topics related to classical Indian studies.</listing>
  
 
==Buy==
 
==Buy==
  
Varanasi is famous for its fine '''silk''' - it's on offer everywhere, but shop around and [[haggle|bargain hard]]!
+
Varanasi is famous for its fine '''silk''' - it's on offer everywhere, but shop around and [[haggle]]!
 +
*<buy name="Kapoor Art Private Limited" alt="" address="D 52/28,First Floor,Luxmi Kund ,Luxa Road" directions="near Laxmi Temple" phone="+91-8971849601" email="kapoorartpvtltd@gmail.com" url="https://fb.com/kapoorfabric" hours="9 AM" price="" lat="9 PM" long="40 years" >Varanasi First Government Approved Silk and Saree Shop,Shop to buy Traditional Banarasi Saree, Banarasi Silk Saree, Embroidary And Handwork Silk Saree.Best Collection & Resonable Price Silk Saree</buy>
  
If you are buying silk scarves, make sure you ask if it is a real silk scarves or fake one. Fake one is cheaper, and you should be able to purchase it for about 50 to 75 rupees, be prepared to hear the prices for 200 rupees for a fake one!! The real silk scarves can be bargain down to about 150 rupees or sometimes 100 rupees. Be prepared to hear 650 rupees as asking price!!
+
* <buy name="Loan Arts & Crafts" alt="" address="s.20/52a nepali kothi" directions="before hotel surya 10 yards left" phone="0091--9336062161" email="mloan_in@yahoo.com" url="" hours="12" price="" lat="" long="">Silk carpets, hand-made, hand-knotted oriental Persian carpets, silk products, silk pashmina, hand embroidered and hand stitched cashmere wool, papier mache and lots of handicrafts.</buy>
  
* <buy name="Mehrotra Silk Factory" alt="" address="K 4-8A, Lal Ghat, Raj Mandir" directions="near Brahma Ghat, follow the multiple yellow signs" phone="(0091)542 2435892" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long=""> Government Approved. Has set, reasonable prices and a good selection of handwoven pure silk Sarees, dress materials, bedcovers and hot chocolate and other silk materials.</buy>
+
* <buy name="Mehrotra Silk Factory" alt="" address="K 4-8A, Lal Ghat, Raj Mandir" directions="near Brahma Ghat, follow the multiple yellow signs" phone="(0091)542 2435892" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Government Approved. Has set, reasonable prices and a good selection of handwoven pure silk Sarees, dress materials, bedcovers and hot chocolate and other silk materials.</buy>
  
* <buy name="Wow India" alt="" address="Assi Ghat" directions="the big corner shop, follow the tourists" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">A large collection of handicrafts from all over the country, a good herbal teas, incense and plenty more. Prices are moderate and fixed.</buy>
+
* <buy name="Pratha" alt="" address="Shop No.38, Kashi Anathalaya Building, Maldahiya" directions="Lahurabir - Maldahiya Main Road, Lane by the Main Anathalaya Building " phone="(0091)9451089499" url="" hours="12:00 PM to 8:00 PM" price="" lat="" long="">A small shop by the corner, showcasing Hand Block printed cotton kurties, suits and accessories. This store does not offer commissions to guides.</buy>
  
*<buy name="Loan arts &amp;crafts" alt="mloan_in@yahoo.com" address="s.20/52a,nepalikothi" directions="before hotel surya 10 yards left" phone="0091--9336062161" url="" hours="12" price="" lat="" long="">Silk carpets, hand-made, hand-knotted oriental Persian carpets, silk products, silk pashminas, hand embroidered and hand stitched cashmere wool, papier mache and lots of handicrafts.</buy>
+
* <buy name="Sri Guru Perfumers" alt="" address="D, 32/15, Munshi Ghat" directions="Bengali Tola Lane, before Spicie Bites. Enter Bengali Tola Lane on the way to Dasaswamedh Ghat. Turn at the Bank of Baroda ATM. There is another perfume shop on the corner before Sri Guru Perfumers, so be aware." phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Very nice selection of perfumes and natural oils, some of them are made by the family of the owner Shankar Roy. Homemade incenses are great.</buy>
  
* <buy name="Pratha" alt="" address="Shop No.38, Kashi Anathalaya Building, Maldahiya" directions="Lahurabir - Maldahiya Main Road, Lane by the Main Anathalaya Building " phone="(0091)9451089499" url="" hours="12:00 PM to 8:00 PM" price="" lat="" long=""> A small shop by the corner, showcasing Hand Block printed cotton kurties, suits and accessories. This store does not offer commissions to guides.</buy>
+
* <buy name="The Bed Silk & Pashmina" alt="" address="b1/153 ganga math assi varanasi" directions="near palach on ganges hotel" phone="00 91 9918280738" email="thebedvaranasi@gmail.com" url="http://www.thebedvaranasi.in/" hours="9 am " price="300" lat="9 pm " long="7 year">A shop for all kind of gifts(like all kinds of silk materials and scarfs). Much more to see.</buy>
*<buy name="Sri Guru Perfumers" alt="" address="D, 32/15, Munshi Ghat" directions="Bengali Tola Lane, before Spicie Bites" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Very nice selection of perfumes and natural oils, some of them are made by the family of the owner Shankar Roy. Homemade incenses are great.
+
  
You enter Bengali Tola Lane on the way to Dasaswamedh Ghat. Turn at the Bank of Baroda ATM. There is another perfume shop on the corner before Sri Guru Perfumers, so be aware. </buy>
+
* <buy name="Wow India" alt="" address="B 1/153, Assi Ghat Road, Ganga Math, Assi Ghat" directions="the big corner shop, follow the tourists" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">A large collection of handicrafts from all over the country, good herbal teas, incense and plenty more. Prices are moderate and fixed.</buy>
  
 
==Eat==
 
==Eat==
  
There are numerous food outlets and a very dynamic range in quality.  The restaurants closer to the ghats cater more to foreign tourists, with variable success. To get really authentic ''Banarasi Khana'' you're going to have to get to the main market area or, better, to have a banarasi friend inviting you at home. Benares Dum Aloo is a local specialty, and the city is also known for its desserts. You can't go away from Benares without eating local specialities as ''aloo chat'' and  ''pani puri'' and, in general, the street food.
+
''Banarasi Khana'', or local delicacies, are known for their flavors. Many dishes here are flavored with asafoetida, ginger, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and/or dried fenugreek leaves.
'''Paan''', a betel nut mixture usually containing tobacco, is not really food, but is something Benares is famous for all over India.  
+
  
 +
''Benares Dum Aloo'' is different from the dum aloo cooked elsewhere in India because the potatoes are stuffed with and cooked in a gravy that includes jaggery, fennel, and chili paste.
  
 +
Varanasi is also known for its street food and chaat vendors. ''Aloo chaat'' is very common.
  
*<eat name="Nice cafe" alt="" address="Bengali Tola" directions="near Mona Lisa, on turn off for Vishnu GH" phone="" url="" hours="7am - late" price="25-55 for meal" lat="" long="">Great food cooked only by mum and family. Home kitchen. Clean.  Friendly and helpful owner. Very reasonable prices, except on festival days when hot chocolate is poured over everyone for a fixed price of 1000 rupees per person. Check out the garlic / cheese nan and the pancakes! </eat>
+
''Varanasi Paan'' is famous all over India and the world. Paan is an assortment of flavors wrapped in a betel leaf. There are two versions: One that includes tobacco, and one that includes only sweet flavors. The exact ingredients depend on how much you offer, which can be as little as ₹10 or as much as ₹300. To eat the sweet version, shove the entire leaf in your mouth at once and chew until you swallow!
  
 +
''Rabri Malai Balai'' is a popular dessert in Varanasi that includes milk, sugar, almonds, and pistachio nuts. You can find it served in hole-in-the-wall or sweet shops.
  
*<eat name="CHINTU" alt="" address="POSTOFFICE" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">DARI VIKRETA</eat>
+
There are plenty of food outlets with a very dynamic range in quality. The restaurants closer to the ghats cater more to foreign tourists, with variable success.
solVentsi Delicacies===
+
 
 +
===Benarasi Delicacies===
  
 
*'''Shiv Lassi Bhandar''': (near the main gate of RamNagar Fort) Lassi with layers of Malai and Rabri. Superb Stuff.   
 
*'''Shiv Lassi Bhandar''': (near the main gate of RamNagar Fort) Lassi with layers of Malai and Rabri. Superb Stuff.   
  
 
*'''Kashi Chat Center''': (near Godowlia Crossing) Good assortment of exotic chats. Try out the Aloo Tikia Chat.
 
*'''Kashi Chat Center''': (near Godowlia Crossing) Good assortment of exotic chats. Try out the Aloo Tikia Chat.
 
*'''Rabri/Malai shops''': (a couple of shops, near Godowlia Crossing opposite to the Church) Try out fresh rabri and malai in the evening (7PM-9PM). Really good stuff !!! One of the best rabri shops is on the alleyway that leads to the vishwanath temple (the main shiva temple) from the Dashashwamedh Ghat side. This is a tiny hole-in-the-wall rabri shop next to a big sari shop (Kanjilal and company) and loads of shops selling bangles.
 
Another excellent place for rabri & malai is Atul's shop (6-12 pm), another hole-in-the wall shop on the alley that starts beside the Bank of Baroda ATM on Dasaswamedh ghat ; just ask anybody for Atul Bhaiyyas shop once you enter the alley.
 
  
 
*'''Madhur Jalpan''':The best place for laddoos and other famous sweet delicacies is 'Madhur Jalpan', a shop that has been frequented by more than two prime ministers of India! Madhur Jalpan is on Baradev - next to the Kainiya Chitra Mandir(now Spice KCM). Again, on a small alleyway, but the sweets are to die for.
 
*'''Madhur Jalpan''':The best place for laddoos and other famous sweet delicacies is 'Madhur Jalpan', a shop that has been frequented by more than two prime ministers of India! Madhur Jalpan is on Baradev - next to the Kainiya Chitra Mandir(now Spice KCM). Again, on a small alleyway, but the sweets are to die for.
 +
 +
* <eat name="Lotus Lounge" alt="" address=" D 14/27, Mansrowar Ghat," directions="" phone="+91 98 38 567717" url="" hours="" price="mid range" lat="" long="">A very nice place to relax and get safe and tasty food.With a nice view over the river and the ghats.</eat>
 +
 +
* <eat name="Shree Cafe" alt="Vegetarian restaurant" address="D, 15/2 Manmandir" directions="Near Dasaswamedh Ghat, opposite - Deshbandhu Chittranjan Park" phone="+91-9839198866" url="" hours="8:30am - 9:30pm" price="" lat="" long=""></eat>
  
 
===Budget===
 
===Budget===
  
*'''Bufffalo's Restaurant'''(near Kedar Ghat Post Office)Newly opened restaurant. Every Sunday they have a chess tournament and jamming sessions on Thursday. Great Thali.  
+
* <eat name="99 Not Out - Veg Cafe" alt="" address="6 Kashiraj Apartment, Kamachha" directions="Rly Stn - BHU main road near Rathyatra " phone="0091-9415226752" url="http://www.99notout.in" hours="12.00 Noon to 10.30 PM" price="" lat="" long="">Extremely neat & clean place serving pure veg burgers, pizza, pasta, chowmein, hot dog etc. A wide range of thick shakes and exclusive cold drinks alongwith full range of Ice Creams.</eat>
  
* '''Shiva Cafe and German Bakery''', D 26/4 Narad Ghat, (''near Himalaya Lodge''). In the main little alleyway that runs parallel to the river between Dasaswamedh Ghat and Assi Ghat, this place is deservedly popular. The food takes time, but that's because it's prepared fresh, and you'll be happy you waited when the food arrives. Staffed by enterprising Nepalis this has authentic pastas, sandwiches etc.Healthy food. Favourite amongst long stay residents.
+
* '''A C Shahi Restaurant''' & '''Kesari Restaurant''' near Dasashwmedh ghat in Godaulia and '''Shahi Restaurant''' near Rathyatra crossing  serve very good vegetarian north / south indian dishes.
  
* '''Mona Lisa Cafe''', (''just south and opposite Shiva Cafe''). Another good and popular cheapie, with a good range of things on offer, notably a thali for Rs 20, and some Japanese and Korean dishes thrown in for good measure.
+
* '''Buffalo's Restaurant'''(near Kedar Ghat Post Office)Newly opened restaurant. Every Sunday they have a chess tournament and jamming sessions on Thursday. Great Thali.  
  
*'''A C Shahi Restaurant''' & '''Kesari Restaurant''' near Dasashwmedh ghat in Godaulia and '''Shahi Restaurant''' near Rathyatra crossing  serve very good vegetarian north / south indian dishes.
+
* '''Diamond Hotel''' and '''Jaika Restaurant''' near Vijaya Talkies Crossing in Bhelupur serve very good north Indian dishes.
+
*'''Diamond Hotel''' and '''Jaika Restaurant''' near Vijaya Talkies Crossing in Bhelupur serve very good north Indian dishes.
+
  
 
* '''Ganga View''' on the roof of sita guest house d 22/16 chaustti ghat, varanasi,up india,Indian Continental and Western Food Fresh Food and Purified Water (Non-veg not available)
 
* '''Ganga View''' on the roof of sita guest house d 22/16 chaustti ghat, varanasi,up india,Indian Continental and Western Food Fresh Food and Purified Water (Non-veg not available)
  
*'''Ganga Paying Guest House & Rooftop Restaurant''', (''near Assi Ghat on the bank of River Ganges'') +91-9936491103. A very nice place to eat with an awesome view of River Ganges and all the ghats.  The food is very nice but it takes a little time but with that beautiful view you would like to spend more time sitting there even without food.
+
* '''Mona Lisa Cafe''', (''just south and opposite Shiva Cafe''). Another good and popular cheapie, with a good range of things on offer, notably a thali for Rs 20, and some Japanese and Korean dishes thrown in for good measure.
  
*<eat name="99 Not Out - Veg Cafe" alt="" address="6 Kashiraj Apartment, Kamachha" directions="Rly Stn - BHU main road near Rathyatra " phone="0091-9415226752" url="http://www.99notout.in" hours="12.00 Noon to 10.30 PM" price="" lat="" long="">Extremely neat & clean place serving pure veg burgers, pizza, pasta, chowmein, hot dog etc. A wide range of thick shakes and exclusive cold drinks alongwith full range of Ice Creams.</eat>
+
* <eat name="New Bread of Life Bakery" alt="Bread, Cakes and Brownies in Varanasi" address="Main Road, Parallel to Shivala Ghat" directions="Just past the junction at Shivala Ghat, on your left/hand side heading towards Assi Ghat" phone="09415818188" url="" hours="7am-10pm" price="" lat="" long="">The most amazing Chocolate brownies and Apple pies! Plus good homemade brown bread. Wonderful chocolate chip cookies; pack of three for 60 Rupees, or one for 25.</eat>
Classic cafe, perfect space for chinese and indian fusion snacks,Good place for group gathering.
+
  
 +
* <eat name="Nice cafe" alt="" address="Bengali Tola" directions="near Mona Lisa, on turn off for Vishnu GH" phone="" url="" hours="7am - late" price="25-55 for meal" lat="" long="">Great food cooked only by mum and family. Home kitchen. Clean.  Friendly and helpful owner.  Very reasonable prices, except on festival days when hot chocolate is poured over everyone for a fixed price of 1000 rupees per person. Check out the garlic / cheese nan and the pancakes! </eat>
  
*<eat name="Samara Restaurant" alt="Samara" address="B-38/1-S, Mahmoorganj" directions="1 KM from Rathyatra to Akashwani" phone="0542-2364484" url="http://www.samararestaurant.com" hours="11AMto 11PM" price="" lat="" long="">Pure Vegetatian Indian, North Indian, Chinese, South Indian</eat>
+
* <eat name="Samara Restaurant" alt="Samara" address="B-38/1-S, Mahmoorganj" directions="1 KM from Rathyatra to Akashwani" phone="0542-2364484" url="http://www.samararestaurant.com" hours="11AMto 11PM" price="" lat="" long="">Pure Vegetatian Indian, North Indian, Chinese, South Indian</eat>
 +
 
 +
* '''Shiva Cafe and German Bakery''', D 26/4 Narad Ghat, (''near Himalaya Lodge''). In the main little alleyway that runs parallel to the river between Dasaswamedh Ghat and Assi Ghat, this place is deservedly popular. The food takes time, but that's because it's prepared fresh, and you'll be happy you waited when the food arrives. Staffed by enterprising Nepalis this has authentic pastas, sandwiches etc.Healthy food. Favourite amongst long stay residents.
  
 
===Mid-range===
 
===Mid-range===
*'''Filocafe'''' ( +91-9839066788), A space to study, read, network, converse, experiment, think… Filocafé provides a perfect heaven for this and much more. Come here to showcase or appreciate up-and-coming talents – musical, intellectual, artistic – or use this free space any other activity that relates to the city or makes us grow as people Equipped free Wi-Fi and electrical outlets available to all, Filocafé offers a variety of over 45 types of teas, real espresso coffee (yes those which come out from those Italian machines :D) and its creative varieties, fresh juices and a few munchies.. Open from 12pm to 8:30pm.
 
 
'''Weekly Event:'''A movie is shown every Sunday at 6pm followed by a special dinner.
 
  
 
* '''Aum Cafe / Ayurvedic Cafe''' : near Assi Ghat, owned and run by Shivani Ayurvedic food/ Organic Teas and Coffees, Healthy Vegan/ Vegetarian friendly atmosphere with free Wi Fi.  Hearty nutritious dishes.  Some Indian and western choices.  Located behind the temple on Assi Ghat.
 
* '''Aum Cafe / Ayurvedic Cafe''' : near Assi Ghat, owned and run by Shivani Ayurvedic food/ Organic Teas and Coffees, Healthy Vegan/ Vegetarian friendly atmosphere with free Wi Fi.  Hearty nutritious dishes.  Some Indian and western choices.  Located behind the temple on Assi Ghat.
  
* '''Madhur Milan Cafe''', Dashashwamedh Road, is a nice place for Indian snacks and meals at cheap prices. The price range for a persons full meal varies between Rs. 40 - 150. Cafe is primarily famous for its fried hot samosas, dosa and kachori sabji. Website : [http://www.madhurmilancafe.in].
+
* '''Bread of Life Bakery''', Shivala Road, (''a few hundred metres north of Assi Ghat''), ''+91'' 542 227 5012. Good baked goods, but also a full restaurant with okay breakfasts including "American" pancakes and canned-OJ (freshly-squeezed no longer). Used to be very popular but the quality is now questionable.  
  
* '''Megu Cafe''', Kalika Gali (near Meer Ghat), has excellent vegetarian Japanese food made by a Japanese woman who settled in Varanasi a number of years ago. All dishes are Rs. 85 or less. Closed on Sundays. [December 2011] Menu prices of all items have increased and expect to pay around Rs. 100-130 for a vegetarian  and around Rs. 180-200 for non vegetarian main meal.
+
*'''Brown Bread Bakery''', near Meer ghat, 09838888823. Is a good bakery run by a German baker in Varanasi, be wary of the Indian run bakery on the opposite side of the road who claims charity but is just fake. Breads and pastries made from organically grown ingredients. Also a nice range of cheeses. The restaurant has a large menu including Continental, Italian, German and Indian classics, has a great rooftop and offers a breakfast buffet from 7 to 12. Quality is mostly pretty good and a part of the proceeds supports the Learn For Life society which operates a free school for disadvantaged children in Aurangabad, Varanasi. www.brownbreadbakery.com; www.learn-for-life.net
  
* '''Open Hand Shop & Cafe''', Assi Ghat, (''around the corner from Hotel Haifa''), ''+91'' 542 2369 751, [http://www.openhandindia.com]. The bakery has daily fresh bread, cakes, pies & various pastries. The food selection includes set breakfast, salads, breadrolls and fruit salad. The espresso-based coffees and fresh fruit smoothies are the main attractions. The shop is selling fixed-price merchandise on fair-trade principles. Free Internet
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* '''Filocafe'''' ( +91-9839066788), A space to study, read, network, converse, experiment, think… Filocafé provides a perfect heaven for this and much more. Come here to showcase or appreciate up-and-coming talents – musical, intellectual, artistic – or use this free space any other activity that relates to the city or makes us grow as people Equipped free Wi-Fi and electrical outlets available to all, Filocafé offers a variety of over 45 types of teas, real espresso coffee (yes those which come out from those Italian machines :D) and its creative varieties, fresh juices and a few munchies.. Open from 12pm to 8:30pm. A movie is shown every Sunday at 6pm followed by a special dinner.
  
 
* '''Flavours Cafe''', Lanka, ('above axis bank''). Great coffee and desserts. Strong filter coffee and lighly accented lattes with a quiet ambiance make for a needed break from the city. Free wireless is also a plus.  
 
* '''Flavours Cafe''', Lanka, ('above axis bank''). Great coffee and desserts. Strong filter coffee and lighly accented lattes with a quiet ambiance make for a needed break from the city. Free wireless is also a plus.  
  
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* '''Madhur Milan Cafe''', Dashashwamedh Road, is a nice place for Indian snacks and meals at cheap prices. The price range for a persons full meal varies between Rs. 40 - 150. Cafe is primarily famous for its fried hot samosas, dosa and kachori sabji. Website : [http://www.madhurmilancafe.in].
  
*'''Brown Bread Bakery''', near Meer ghat, 09838888823. Is a good bakery run by a German baker in Varanasi, be wary of the Indian run bakery on the opposite side of the road who claims charity but is just fake. Breads and pastries made from organically grown ingredients. Also a nice range of cheeses. The restaurant has a large menu including Continental, Italian, German and Indian classics, has a great rooftop and offers a breakfast buffet from 7 to 12. Quality is mostly pretty good and a part of the proceeds supports the Learn For Life society which operates a free school for disadvantaged children in Aurangabad, Varanasi. www.brownbreadbakery.com; www.learn-for-life.net
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* '''Megu Cafe''', Kalika Gali (near Meer Ghat), has excellent vegetarian Japanese food made by a Japanese woman who settled in Varanasi a number of years ago. All dishes are Rs. 85 or less. Closed on Sundays. [December 2011] Menu prices of all items have increased and expect to pay around Rs. 100-130 for a vegetarian  and around Rs. 180-200 for non vegetarian main meal.
  
* '''Bread of Life Bakery''', Shivala Road, (''a few hundred metres north of Assi Ghat''), ''+91'' 542 227 5012. Good baked goods, but also a full restaurant with okay breakfasts including "American" pancakes and canned-OJ (freshly-squeezed no longer). Used to be very popular but the quality is now questionable.  
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* '''Moti Mahal Delux''' restaurant - in Sigra, 3rd Floor, IP Mall, in the heart of the city. +91-542-2220555. One of the best Indian and mughlai restaurant in the city with a unique fine dining experience. Also provides free delivery of your meal at any location in the city. Also serves authentic chinese and continental.
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* '''Open Hand Shop & Cafe''', Assi Ghat, (''around the corner from Hotel Haifa''), ''+91'' 542 2369 751, [http://www.openhandindia.com]. The bakery has daily fresh bread, cakes, pies & various pastries. The food selection includes set breakfast, salads, breadrolls and fruit salad. The espresso-based coffees and fresh fruit smoothies are the main attractions. The shop is selling fixed-price merchandise on fair-trade principles. Free Internet
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* '''Radiant''' Restaurant - at 28A, Sampoornanand Nagar, Sigra, Varanasi 221010, Phones:0542-2223831,2224951,6457808 may be the only 24 hours vegetarian restaurant which serves Indian Homely food apart from Continental Vegetarian dishes and Chinese vegetarian dishes. A place to get healthy and law calorie food.Also provides free delivery of your meal at any location in the city.  
  
 
* '''Zaika''' restaurant - in Shivala, opposite Hotel Broadway.  Good Indian / Chinese dishes; try the sweet-corn-pakoras.  
 
* '''Zaika''' restaurant - in Shivala, opposite Hotel Broadway.  Good Indian / Chinese dishes; try the sweet-corn-pakoras.  
 
* '''Moti Mahal Delux''' restaurant - in Sigra, 3rd Floor, IP Mall, in the heart of the city. +91-542-2220555. One of the best Indian and mughlai restaurant in the city with a unique fine dining experience. Also provides free delivery of your meal at any location in the city. Also serves authentic chinese and continental.
 
  
 
====Middle-Eastern Food====
 
====Middle-Eastern Food====
  
 
Possibly due to a high influx of tourists from Israel, a number of Middle Eastern restaurants have opened in Varanasi, all of which serve very similar food, cater to a predominantly tourist clientèle, and charge a little over Rs 100 for a thali.  
 
Possibly due to a high influx of tourists from Israel, a number of Middle Eastern restaurants have opened in Varanasi, all of which serve very similar food, cater to a predominantly tourist clientèle, and charge a little over Rs 100 for a thali.  
 
* '''Haifa Cafe''': Assi Ghat, (''in Hotel Haifa''). Most popular for its Middle-Eastern cuisine such as the thali (delicious!), but has a wide range of Indian and continental dishes and is also popular at breakfast. The Jordanian brothers aren't here anymore. Its now just a regular hotel.
 
 
The food is awful too with the Jordanians gone.
 
  
 
* '''Hayat mediterreian'''': near Assi (new location= behind dumraon bag colony park), managed by authentic middle-easterners (from Jordan).  Try the labanha (dry yoghurt), or the baba ghanSoush (eggplant) with pita.  The Nanas (mint-lemon drink) are the best in town. The feta is a tad high in salt, but at least they have it.  The restaurant has a tent-like lounge atmosphere that gives it a cult presence. Ask for "hello to the queen" and see smiles.
 
* '''Hayat mediterreian'''': near Assi (new location= behind dumraon bag colony park), managed by authentic middle-easterners (from Jordan).  Try the labanha (dry yoghurt), or the baba ghanSoush (eggplant) with pita.  The Nanas (mint-lemon drink) are the best in town. The feta is a tad high in salt, but at least they have it.  The restaurant has a tent-like lounge atmosphere that gives it a cult presence. Ask for "hello to the queen" and see smiles.
very good quality, pleasant open air magnetosphere
 
  
 
* '''Phulwari / Sami Cafe''': near the Vishwanath Temple crossing, you sit beside a religiously near-defunct but architecturally gorgeous Mahadev temple, and sip on iced teas and nanas. Some locals still consider this a holy site and aren't too happy about the cafe being so close.
 
* '''Phulwari / Sami Cafe''': near the Vishwanath Temple crossing, you sit beside a religiously near-defunct but architecturally gorgeous Mahadev temple, and sip on iced teas and nanas. Some locals still consider this a holy site and aren't too happy about the cafe being so close.
 
This temple has been usurped by thugs who sponsor this restaurant. Avoid on ethical grounds. No other heritage Indian temple has a restaurant in its courtyard !
 
  
 
===Splurge===
 
===Splurge===
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* '''Varuna''' and '''Chowk''', Taj Ganges Hotel, Nadesar Palace Grounds. Tel''+91 542'' 250-300 - Two restaurants respectively offering Indian and Western cuisine.
 
* '''Varuna''' and '''Chowk''', Taj Ganges Hotel, Nadesar Palace Grounds. Tel''+91 542'' 250-300 - Two restaurants respectively offering Indian and Western cuisine.
 
The Taj is excellent as usual.
 
  
 
==Drink==
 
==Drink==
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* '''Alcohol''' is not common in Varanasi, but it is available at a few restaurants and hotels, such as the Radisson and Taj. There are several wine shops in the old city but they don't offer any sitting arrangement. You can buy whatever you want and bring it to your hotel room.  
*'''Alcohol''' is available at a few restaurants and hotels, such as the Radisson and Taj. There are several wine shops in the old city but they don't offer any sitting arrangement. You can buy whatever you want and bring it to your hotel room.  
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*'''Bhang''' is a potent, powdered form of marijuana often mixed into "special" lassis, simply called ''bhang lassi''. The drink is especially popular on holidays as Varanasi is a major center of Shiva worship as it is offered to the lord in form of ''Prashad''. It can be quite intoxicating.  
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* '''Bhang''' is a potent, powdered form of marijuana often mixed into "special" lassis, simply called ''bhang lassi''. The drink is especially popular on holidays as Varanasi is a major center of Shiva worship as it is offered to the lord in form of ''Prashad''. It can be quite intoxicating.  
  
*'''Thandai''' is cool milk based drink made with pistachios, almonds and kesar and topped off with a large dollop of ''malai'' (cream). ''Bhang'' is often added to thicken the concoction, though it can be made without. Many Tandai stores are located near the main Godowlia, and most also serve lassi.
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* '''Thandai''' is cool milk based drink made with pistachios, almonds and kesar and topped off with a large dollop of ''malai'' (cream). ''Bhang'' is often added to thicken the concoction, though it can be made without. Many Tandai stores are located near the main Godowlia, and most also serve lassi.
  
 
==Sleep==
 
==Sleep==
The most interesting area to stay is around the ghats. This is where most foreigners hang out - and with good reason. In addition to the ghats and river, Varanasi's most famous temples and main market are all located in this area. Another choice is [[Sarnath]], about 8km from Varanasi. It is a little removed  from 'the action' but much safer and calmer than Varanasi. 
 
  
Some budget accommodations advertise free morning and evening boat rides along the river. Technically, it is not free.  The boat will take you half-way along the river and then let the boat-load of passengers know that for the second-half there is a fee of 60 rupees per person. Those who do not want to continue can get out of the boat and walk back to their lodging.
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The most interesting area to stay is around the ghats, which are the main attractions for foreigners and are close to the religious attractions. However, this area is extremely noisy and many accommodation choices here are subpar, so do some research before you book. An alternative to staying in Varanasi is to stay near the main train station (Varanasi Junction). This area has some very nice new places popping-up in the recent years and is only about 10 minutes on a tuk-tuk. Another alternative is the much quieter [[Sarnath]], 10+ km from Varanasi, but it takes 75+ minutes each way to reach Varanasi by tuk-tuk (₹200).
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Some budget accommodations advertise free morning and evening boat rides along the river. However, the boat will take you up the river and then let the passengers know that for the return trip, there is a fee of ₹60 per person. Those who do not want to pay can get out of the boat and walk back.
  
Beware that Varanasi, particularly during summer, is prone to many hours of power outages a day. It is best to double check that you fan of A/C is run from a backup generator, or you may not have it for much of the day.
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Beware that Varanasi, particularly during summer, is prone to many hours of power outages a day. It is best to double check that your fan or A/C is run from a backup generator, or you may not have it for much of the day.
  
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===Budget===
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====Hostels====
  
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* <sleep name="International Travellers' Hostel & Bistro" address="C-32/4, Vidyapeeth Road, Varanasi, 221002" directions="5 min walk from Varanasi Junction station, opposite Gate #2 of Vidyapeeth University." price="Tent: ₹490; Dorm beds: ₹440 / ₹590; Luxury room: ₹2,990" phone="+91 7860749132" url="http://www.itravellershostel.com">A hostel run out of an ancestral family house. The owner lives in Germany, but his staff, Dada and Manash, manage the hostel. There are mixed and female dormitories available with 4-5 beds each. There is a cottage-style luxury room with en-suite bathroom for the ones with a slightly higher budget, and a tent for the ones on extremely tight budget. Breakfast is included in nightly prices. The rooms are cozy and silent with comfortable beds. A/C dorms have single beds and are very spacious. The hostel also features a bistro that serves delicious vegetarian and vegan meals. Their menu also includes – rare to find in India – authentic Italian coffee. There are several pleasant common areas – including a garden and a huge rooftop. It's a great place to be away from the chaos of Varanasi. Very good to socialize with other travellers, and for celebrating Indian festivals, especially Holi. Includes Wi-Fi, TV, iPod dock, DVDs, books, card & board games, PC, lockers, washing machine, communal kitchen and purified drinking water. They also offer power generator back-up, which can be very helpful during scorching Indian summers, so that your room A/C functions even through the long power outages that are very common in India. All-in-all a unique hostel. Highly recommended.</sleep>
  
*<sleep name="Azure Paying Guest House" alt="" address="Plot number 30, Vijayanagaram Colony Bhelupur, Varanasi , Near  Bhelupur Water Tank and  Coffee House  " directions="" phone="05422276015" url="www.azureguesthouse.com" checkin="12pm" checkout="11am" price="400" lat="600" long="">Azure Paying Guest house  is located very central of the town of Varanasi  and is about 10 mins of walk from the river and the city center. The house has two double rooms with attach bathroom, two double rooms with shared bathroom and one dormitory with shared bathrooms . Bathrooms have western loos  ( wc), wc with needed amenities like free wifi , common sitting area , balcony and place to lounge in. The large rooftop area provides a great advantage to hang around and even practice yoga or chill out. The house also have a family kitchen where you can enjoy the taste of Indian cuisine with various types of delicious foods like Pakoda , Thalis, Chai etc. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is available on order. The area where the guest house is located is very quiet and have green atmosphere so that you can relax and enjoy your time . Room’s rent starts from rupees 400 upto rupees 600. Come and experience the difference </sleep>
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* <sleep name="Ram Bhawan / Kautilya Society Residence" alt="कौटिल्य संघ" address="D-20/21 Munshi Ghat" directions="on the banks of the River Ganga" phone="+91 542-2452179, +91 542-2455139" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="info@kautilyasociety.com" fax="" url="http://www.kautilyasociety.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="Dorm bed: ₹400; Single: ₹1,000; Double: ₹1,700">This is the study center of an NGO that supports responsible development through dialogue that also offers rooms for students and scholars. The residence is similar to an Indian home with simple comforts and colonial teak furniture. In accordance with Indian law, all guests must become members of the Society and pay membership dues of ₹300. These donations cover half board (₹200 per day for additional guests sharing the same room). In low season rates are approximately 20% lower. Long term guests can enjoy special discounts. </sleep>
  
*<sleep name="Mangla Paying guest House" alt="" address="D. 32/124, Pataleshwar, Varanasi" directions="" phone="+91 05422451205" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="500" lat="" long="">A new guest house tucked into the alley way near Shanti Restaurant in Bengali Tola near Chowsatti Ghat (which is few meters from Dashashwamedh Ghat). Amit Mitra is the owner. The room is spacious and has strong fan. The toilet is clean and spacious. It is a better option than Peace Guest house or Shiva Guest house which is near by. Hot shower is on and off sometimes, you can ask the owner make sure the hot shower is working. Also Wifi is free. The guest house is still under renovation in the time of writing. room range from 500 rupees (fan) to 850 rupees (with AC). email: manglatextiles@yahoo.com phone: +91 05422451205, mobile: +91 9452196366</sleep>
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* <sleep name="Stops Art Hostel" alt="" address="B 20/47, A-2, Vijayanagaram Colony, Bhelupur" directions="1.1km east of Hanuman Ghat, near the water tower. In an alleyway behind the Dolphin Hotel" phone=+91 9871360382"" email="info@stopshostels.com" fax="" url="http://www.stopshostels.com" checkin="12PM" checkout="11AM" price="Tent on roof: ₹350; Dorm bed: ₹450-650; Double: ₹1900" lat="" long="" >Bright, airy, super modern hostel. Location in an alleyway makes it quieter. In a large 3 floor house. Affordable organized activities all day including walking tours (₹100+transport), boat trips, cooking classes (₹200), yoga/mediation classes, movie nights, etc...The hostel is run by a very professional young Indian couple with superb English and a very keen understanding of what a hostel should be with full recommendations for eating, drinking, tourism etc. It has A/C, 24 hour security and a very happy relaxed vibe, especially out on the shaded balconies on the upper floor, complete with benches and sofas, great for meeting other travellers. Highly recommended.</sleep>
 
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*<sleep name="2 BR Homestay" alt="" address="Varanasi" directions="" phone="" url="http://www.travelmob.com/varanasi-vacation-rentals-bed-and-breakfast/varanasi-friendly-homestay-22448294039?page=4&query=India" checkin="2:00 pm " checkout="12:00 pm (noon) " price="" lat="" long="">The property is a two bedroom homestay located in the heart of Varanasi.Facilities include Air conditioning, Cable TV, internet and washing machine. The hosts stay on the property and are accessible.</sleep>
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===Budget===
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* <sleep name="Hotel Ganges" alt="" address="Between Gadaulia and Dashashwamedh Ghat, on the left" directions="" phone="" url="" checkin="" checkout="Noon" price="Rooms between Rs. 500 to Rs.2000  per night." lat="" long="" email="" fax="">The Hotel Ganges is situated very close to the Vishwanath Temple lane. The washrooms are clean, and A/C rooms are available. Stay here if you want to stay in the midst of things in Benaras.     </sleep>
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* <sleep name="Vishnu Rest House" alt="" address="Pandey Ghat" directions="" phone="+919936438706" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">A hotel spanned over 200 year old Vishnu temple. A very clean and friendly guest house over looking the river, some rooms with views. You will often find classical music programs and puja held during morning and evening time. The rooms are with power backup and hot water.     </sleep>
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* <sleep name="Zostel Varanasi" alt="" address="D-54/16-D, Jaddumandi, Aurangabad Luxa Road" directions="" phone="" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="10AM" price="Dorm bed: ₹390; Double: ₹990">A friendly hostel located 20 minutes walk to the main ghat. Very noisy location, but a great place to meet people.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Lord Vishnu Rest House" alt="" address="Pandey Ghat" directions="" phone="+919450870727" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Just behind Vishnu Rest House. A very clean and friendly guest house over looking the river, some rooms with views. Close to Vishnu rest house amenities and bigger rooms with peaceful place to stay. The rooms are with power backup and hot water.     </sleep>
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====Guesthouses====
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* <sleep name="Bhadrakali Guest House" alt="" address="Along the river, just off the main ghat" directions="" phone="+91 542 245 4104" email="Bhadrakaliassociation@gmail.com" url="https://www.facebook.com/BhadraKaliGuestHouse/timeline" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="">The guesthouse is a colourful, family-owned, music-oriented house with panoramic views of the city and of the River Ganga. A couple of the rooms in this cozy 7 room Guesthouse also have balconies and river views. Highly recommended.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Mishra Guest House" alt="" address="Ck 8/178 Garwasi tolla Gaumath Varanasi" directions="Near Manikarnika Ghat also called Burning Ghat" phone="+91 542 240 1143" email="" fax="" url="http://www.mishraguesthouse.com" checkin="" checkout="" price="Rs 150 - 950">The rooftop restaurant offers evening concerts every night Free.</sleep>
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* <sleep name="Ganga Fuji Home" alt="" address="" directions="between Man Mandeer Ghat and Dasaswamedh Ghat" phone="" url="http://www.gangafujihomevaranasi.com/" checkin="11AM" checkout="11AM" price="Double: ₹840 (non AC), ₹1,300 (w/AC)" lat="" long="">Some rooms have shared bathroom; more expensive rooms have A/C and TV. All rooms are clean, with clean sheets and towel. The rooftop restaurant offers evening concerts every night.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Buest Guest House" alt="" address="K 54/84 DARANAGAR, Varanasi 221 001" directions="near Mritunjai Mahadev Temple" phone="+91 964 800 0010" email="rajapayinglodge@gmail.com" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="Rs 150 - 1500">Property is situated right in the centre of the old town. Yoga courses are available by Yog Guru.</sleep>
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*<sleep name="Ganges Inn" alt="" address="D20/10 Munshi Ghat, Bangali Tola, Dashaswamedh, Varanasi" email="gangesinn@gmail.com" directions="http://goo.gl/SWz73e" phone="+91 542 2450611" url="http://goo.gl/bcyVW8" checkin="12PM" checkout="12PM" lat="" long="">Excellent location! Everything is just a few minutes away (1 minute to the river, 2 minutes to the Main Ghat where Aarti/nightly ceremony takes place). The owner is very friendly and will treat you like you're a member of his family. Rooms with A/C, hot water/kettle, flatscreen TV, reliable and free wifi (lobby and rooms).</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Ganga Fuji Home" alt="" address="" directions="between Man Mandeer Ghat and Dasaswamedh Ghat" phone="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="Rs 350 - 990" lat="" long="">Some rooms have shared bathroom; more expensive rooms have A/C and TV. All rooms are clean, with clean sheets and towel. The rooftop restaurant offers evening concerts every night.</sleep>
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* <sleep name="Golden Lodge" alt="" address="D 8/35, Kalika Gali" directions="Near Manikarnika Ghat" phone="+91 99355 12368" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://goldenlodgevaranasi.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="Single w/shared bath: ₹350; Double w/shared bath: ₹400; Add 100% for AC, add ₹150 for attached bath. 20% discount in low season.">Tucked away in the alleyways, friendly staff. Restaurant on site. </sleep>
  
 
* <sleep name="Groovy Ganges Guesthouse" alt="ग्रूवी गंगा गेस्ट हाउस" address="B2/225, B-6-A, Bhadaini"
 
* <sleep name="Groovy Ganges Guesthouse" alt="ग्रूवी गंगा गेस्ट हाउस" address="B2/225, B-6-A, Bhadaini"
directions="in Bhadaini neighborhood near Assi Ghat" phone="993.618.0896" email="info@groovyganges.org" fax="(001)206.984.1165" checkin="whenever" checkout="no hurry" price="Rs 3000/week" url="http://www.groovyganges.org">Live in an Indian home with an Indian family. Unlimited broadband internet access comes with every room, making this an ideal place for long-term students, researchers, and activists wanting to integrate into local culture. Boiled water used for all cooking.</sleep>
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directions="in Bhadaini neighborhood, near Assi Ghat" phone="993.618.0896" email="info@groovyganges.org" fax="(001)206.984.1165" url="http://www.groovyganges.org" checkin="whenever" checkout="no hurry" price="₹3,000/week" >Live in an Indian home with an Indian family. Popular with long-term students, researchers, and activists wanting to integrate into local culture. Boiled water is used for all cooking. Book well in advance since many clients are long term.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Hotel River View" alt="" address="a couple ghats north of Panchganga Ghat" directions="Walk north from Dasaswamedh Ghat for about 15 minutes, and follow the numerous blue and white painted signs that begin to appear" phone="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="Rs 100 - 250" lat="" long="" email=""></sleep>
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* <sleep name="Hotel River View" alt="" address="K-20/133,134 Rajmandir Brahma Ghat" directions="Walk north from Dasaswamedh Ghat for about 15 minutes, and follow the numerous blue and white painted signs" phone="" url="http://www.hotelriverviewvaranasi.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="US$10-25" lat="" long="" email=""></sleep>
  
*<sleep name="Maa Vaishno Guest House" alt="माँ वैशो गेस्ट हाउस" email="vermadinesh81@gmail.com" address="B 5/188" directions="Shivala Ghat" phone="+91-9389178569" url="" checkin="24hr" checkout="12-noon" price="Rs 200 - 500" lat="" long=""> Family run guesthouse situated two minutes from the Shivala Ghat. A very short walking distance to the burning ghats but far enough away to avoid smoke and smell. 10 clean rooms, all with attached bathroom with running hot and cold shower and view of the Ganga.  Roof top restaurant, sunrise & sun set from roof & room. Broadband internet (paid),pick up services. laundry, train, bus and air ticket arrangement and other travel services available.</sleep>
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* <sleep name="Kedar Guest House" alt="" address="B-1/148-A-2-KH, Lodging Street, Dumraon Colony" directions="Just west of Ravidas Ghat, along the Assi River" phone="+91 542 236 8853" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://kedarguesthouse.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="Single: ₹250 in low season, ₹350 in high season; Double: ₹400-1,550 in low season, ₹600-1,850 in high season. Breakfast included">Highly recommended. Amazing views. The owner is very knowledgeable and will give you maps and explain Varanasi.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Maruti Guest House" alt="मारुती गेस्ट हाउस" address="Sahodarbir (near Assi Ghat)" directions="" phone="231.2261" email="" fax="" checkin="" checkout="" price="Rs 50 - 400" url="http://www.marutiguesthouse.com"> Friendly family run guest house with clean well lit rooms. There is a roof top garden and restaurant where fresh home made food is served. Power backup for the rooms and hot showers are available as well as broadband Internet access. The owner of the guest house, Dr. V.N. Tripathi, gives Yoga and meditation lessons upon request.</sleep>
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* <sleep name="Maa Vaishno Guest House" alt="माँ वैशो गेस्ट हाउस" email="vermadinesh81@gmail.com" address="B5/188 Shivala Ghat" directions="Shivala Ghat, just off Hanuman Ghat" phone="+91-9389178569" url="" checkin="24hr" checkout="12-noon" price="₹200-250" lat="" long="">One of the cheapest decent guesthouses in the area. Family run guesthouse. 10 clean rooms, all with attached bathroom with running hot and cold shower and view of the Ganga. Roof top restaurant, sunrise & sun set from roof & room, Free Wi-Fi, laundry service.</sleep>
  
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* <sleep name="Marigold P. Guest House" alt="" address="D20/10-D Munshi Ghat, Dashashwmedh Ghat" directions="off the main ghat" phone="+919559811240" url="" email="marigoldhouse@hotmail.com" checkin="13:00" checkout="12:00" price="From ₹700" lat="" long="">Rooftop view of the Ganges. Highly recommended. </sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Shiva Kashi Guest House" alt="" address="D22/4 Chausatti Ghat" directions="very near Sita G H" phone="+91 923 551 2294" url="http://www.shivakashiguesthousevaranasi2gmail.com" checkin="" checkout="12.00 noon" price="Rs 2500 - 4000" lat="" long="">Very clean, well-decorated, quiet guest house. Pleasant and helpful staff. Rooms have windows, are light and airy.   Some have great balconies. Hot water morning and evening. Western toilets. Great value.</sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Maruti Guest House" alt="मारुती गेस्ट हाउस" address="Sahodarbir (near Assi Ghat)" directions="" phone="231.2261" email="" fax=""  url="http://www.marutiguesthouse.com/ checkin="" checkout="" price="₹500-700""> Friendly family run guest house with clean well lit rooms. There is a roof top garden and restaurant where fresh home made food is served. Power backup for the rooms and hot showers are available as well as broadband Internet access. The owner of the guest house, Dr. V.N. Tripathi, gives Yoga and meditation lessons upon request.</sleep>
  
*<sleep name="Monu Family Paying Guest House" alt="" address="D8/4 Kalika Gali, Varanasi" directions="Near Golden Temple" phone="+91 542 240 0908" url="http://www.monuguesthouse.com" checkin="13:00" checkout="11:00" price="Rs 500 - 1200" lat="" long="" email="monufamilyguesthouse@gmail.com">Rooms are available with attach bathroom, western loo, hot and cold shower and free wifi internet access. Music, cookery and language courses are available in house.</sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Mishra Guest House" alt="" address="Ck 8/178 Garwasi tolla Gaumath Varanasi" directions="Near Manikarnika Ghat" phone="+91 542 240 1143" email="" fax="" url="http://www.mishraguesthouse.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="Single: ₹200; Double (non-AC): ₹300-400; Double (w?AC): 600-950">The rooftop restaurant offers free evening concerts every night.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Radiant YMCA Tourist Hostel" alt="वायएमसीए हॉस्टल" address=Sampoornanand Nagar, Sigra, Varanasi 221010"" directions="" phone="0542-2224951,2223831" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="Rs 315 - 1895">Rooms with Air-Conditioner and Hotwater and 24 hour Restaurant available. The facilities include inhouse Laundry, Doctor(on call), Full Travels & Sightseeing faciliy, Acceptability of Credit Cards, Generator Backup, Parking, Internet.</sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Monu Family Paying Guest House" alt="" address="D8/4 Kalika Gali" directions="Near Golden Temple" phone="+91 542 240 0908" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="monufamilyguesthouse@gmail.com" fax="" url="http://www.monuguesthouse.com/" checkin="13:00" checkout="11:00" price="Single: ₹500; Double: ₹900 (plus ₹500 for AC)">Music, cookery and language courses are available.
 +
</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Sahi Riverview Guest House" alt="" address="" directions="on Assi Ghat, next to Harmony Book Shop" phone="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="Rs 200" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">This place is very clean, quiet, and recommended. Newly opened, the guest house has the most fascinating Ganges views and the exotic sunrise from its balconies, rooms and terrace. All rooms have 24 hrs hot water with attached bathrooms.</sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Radiant YMCA Tourist Hostel" alt="वायएमसीए हॉस्टल" address="Mahmoorganj Road, Sampoornanand Nagar Colony" directions="3km east of the main ghat" phone="+91 542-2224951,2223831" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://radiantymca.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="From ₹765">Opened in 1998. Restaurant with large menu. Does not have dormitories, despite being called a hostel.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Shanti Guesthouse" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">There are several hotels near the ghats that have taken the name ''Shanti'' after the original's good reputation. The original is a clean but very basic building with several floors of windowless rooms (cooler and safer than ones with exterior windows). There is a dorm on the roof. The rooftop cafe offers money changing, internet access, and a view of the Burning Ghats. The travel agent in the rooftop bar is reported to overcharge. The cafe's food is priced Rs 40-100. Fans are run on generator during power outages, but not A/C. Double fan room Rs200.</sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Sahi Riverview Guest House" alt="" address="B1/158 A2, Assi Ghat" directions="on Assi Ghat, next to Harmony Book Shop" phone="" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://sahiriverview.co.in/" checkin="" checkout="" price="From ₹500">Very clean and quiet. Great river views! Recommended.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Shanti Rest House" alt="" address="B. 4/30, Hanuman Ghat " directions="" phone="09236848106" url="" checkin="" checkout="10am" price="250+" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">A knockoff of Shanti Guesthouse near Hanuman Ghat.  Rickshaw drivers from the train station will try and bring you here. Plain rooms from 250 rupees, 50rs fee for wifi use. Rude and pushy staff.</sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Sameer Guest House" alt="" address="Near Mahanirvan Ghat and Chet Singh Fort" price="From ₹250"> Maybe not too much clean, but the people here is good. Free wifi, filter water, hot water and breakfast. The place has a really nice garden.
  
* <sleep name="Sita Guest House" alt="" address= "Chausatti Ghat" directions="on the banks of the ganges next to the main ghats" phone="542 2450061 or 3251088" email="sitaguesthouse@yahoo.com" fax="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" url="http://www.sitaguesthouse.in"> A very short walking distance to the burning ghats but far enough away to avoid smoke and smell. Rooms are clean and of a good size all with view of the river. Hot water in every room and roof top restaurant. The hotel also has generator for the many power cuts in Varanasi. The hotel provides many services for its guests, including internet, in house laundry, train and air ticket bookings.</sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Shiva Kashi Guest House" alt="" address="D22/4 Chausatti Ghat" directions="At Raja Ghat" phone="+91 923 551 2294" url="http://www.shivakashiguesthouse.in/" checkin="" checkout="" price="₹500-2,000">Very clean, well-decorated, quiet guest house. Pleasant and helpful staff. Rooms have windows, are light and airy. Some have balconies. Highly recommended.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Tiwari Lodge" alt="" address="B-1/243-A, Assi Ghat" directions="Assi Crossing, accross the street from Hotel Haifa" phone="2315129" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="negotiable" price="Rs 100 - 150"></sleep>, is right after ''Assi crossing'' close to Assi Ghat. It is run by a Brahmin, and has its own small temple on the site. Very relaxed and well maintained by local standards, do not expect staff to be present all the time. For check-in the owner can usually be found sitting in the aryuvedic massage cubicle late afternoons. Upstairs rooms are with shared bath Rs 100/single. Ensuite will be Rs 150, with long term rates negotiable. Bring your sheets and towel. Door locked midnight to 6AM.
+
* <sleep name="Sita Guest House" alt="" address="" directions="On the banks of the Ganges, next to the main ghat" phone="+91 542 2450061 or 3251088" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="sitaguesthouse@yahoo.com" fax="" url="http://www.sitaguesthouse.in/" checkin="" checkout="" price="Double (w/AC): ₹1,500-3,000">Rooms are reasonably clean, somewhat small and most have a view over the river. Supposedly hot water in every room, the hotel also has a generator for the many power cuts in Varanasi but this often doesn't cover the A/C. Rooftop restaurant.</sleep>
  
 +
* <sleep name="Tiwari Guest Lodge" alt="" address="B-1/243-A, Assi Ghat" directions="Assi Crossing, across the street from Hotel Haifa" phone="+91 2315129" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="Double: ₹500">Run by a Brahmin and has a small temple on the site. Very relaxed and well maintained by local standards but do not expect staff to be present all the time. For check-in, the owner can usually be found sitting in the aryuvedic massage cubicle late afternoons. Bring your sheets and towel. Door is locked from midnight to 6AM.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Golden Lodge" alt="" address="D. 8/35, Kalika Gali" directions="just around the corner from Monu Family House, can be difficult to find, but people working the market will be able to show you" phone="0542-2398788" email="goldenvaranasi@gmail.com" fax="" checkin="" checkout="noon" price="Rs 125 - 1200" url="">Tucked away in the alleyways, this guest house has astoundingly cheap rates (20% discount) in the low season and friendly staff. 24 hour internet and refreshments available, restaurant on site. Rooms range from a single bed with a fan to a triple en-suite with AC.</sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Vishnu Rest House" alt="" address="Pandey Ghat" directions="" phone="+919450870727" url="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vishnu-rest-house/215367985223577" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">A hotel spanned over 200 year old Vishnu temple. A very clean and friendly guest house over looking the river, some rooms with views. You will often find classical music programs and puja held during morning and evening time. The rooms are with power backup and hot water.</sleep>
  
 
===Mid-range===
 
===Mid-range===
* <sleep name="Hotel New Temple's Town" alt="" address="53, Patel Nagar, Cantonment" directions="close to Varanasi Railway Station" phone="+91-542-2507733, +91-542-2507735" email="reservation.newtemplestown@gmail.com" checkin="noon" checkout="noon" price="" lat="" long="" url="http://www.newtemplestown.com/"></sleep>
 
  
* <sleep name="Hotel Malti" alt="" address="Vidyapeeth" directions="" phone="(542)356844 351395" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long=""></sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Royal Guest House" alt="" address="3rd Floor Bindal Complex, Mahmoorganj" directions="Near Ksheer Sagar, less than 1km from the Manduadih railway station" phone="+91 0542 2222007" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="info@royalguesthouse.net" fax="+91 0542 2222007" url="http://www.royalguesthouse.net/" checkin="" checkout="12PM" price="Single: ₹2000; Double: ₹2500"></sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Kautilya Society residence" alt="कौटिल्य समाज" address="D 20/21 Munshi Ghat"
+
* <sleep name="Diamond Hotel" alt="" address="Durgakund Road, Bhelupur" directions="Near IP Vijaya Mall, less than 1km from the ghats" phone="+91 0542 2276696" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="diamotel@diamondhotel.co.in" fax="+91 0542 2276703" url="http://www.diamondhotel.co.in/" checkin="" checkout="12PM" price="Single: ₹2,500-3,750; Double: ₹3,000-5,500"></sleep>
  directions="" phone="+91-542-2452179; +91-542-2455139" email="info@kautilyasociety.com" fax=""
+
  checkin="" checkout="" price="€6 membership plus €6-10" url="http://www.kautilyasociety.com">
+
  Located on the banks o the river Ganges at the city centre, it is not an Hotel but it is a NGO for intercultural dialogue, that also offers rooms for students and scholars.  The atmosphere of Ram Bhavan remains faithful to the simple comforts of an Indian home with a splash of colour. Walls are painted in the colors of the ancient city: a cooling forest green facing the court; peacock blues in the bedrooms; Annapurna rose in the kitchen. Furniture is colonial Teak or cane.  By Indian law it is necessary for all residing guests to become members of the Society; annual membership is €6. Rooms in high season cost from  per day, including half board (€ 1 a day for additional guests sharing the same room). In low season rates are approximately 20% lower. Special prices can be obtained by long term guests.    </sleep>
+
  
* <sleep name="Diamond Hotel" alt="" address="Bhelupur,Varanasi, 221010," directions="Most centrally located downtown hotel. Walking distance from Ganga Ghat, very close to the major temples, Banaras Hindu University, and the saree market. Ideally located for business, tourism and pilgrimage. 5 Kms from Ramnagar fort & 12 Kms from Sarnath." phone="+91 0542 2276696" email="diamotel@hotel-diamond.com" fax="+91 0542 2276703" checkin="" checkout="12 noon" price="Rs 2000 - 5000" url="http://www.hotel-diamond.com/">At Diamond Hotel, centrally air conditioned rooms extend a warm and hospitable staying experience. The Hotel offers a range of options for guests interested in arranging conferences, seminars, parties and get-togethers indoor and outdoors for up to 400 people.</sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Hotel New Temple's Town" alt="" address="53, Patel Nagar, Cantonment " directions="Just north of Varanasi Junction Railway Station" phone="+91 542-2507733, +91 542-2507735" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="reservation.newtemplestown@gmail.com" fax="" url="" checkin="12PM" checkout="12PM" price="US$43"></sleep>
 +
 
 +
* <sleep name="Gautam Hotel" alt="" address="C-26/35D, Lahurabir, Ramkatora Crossing" directions="" phone="+91 94530 37806" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.gautamhotelvns.com/" checkin="12PM" checkout="12PM" price="US$16-25">A budget 3-star hotel. Not walkable to the ghats.</sleep>
  
 
===Splurge===
 
===Splurge===
 +
* <sleep name="The Gateway" alt="" address="" directions="Nadesar Palace Grounds" phone="+91 542 250 3001" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="gateway.varanasi@tajhotels.com" fax="" url="http://www.thegatewayhotels.com/ganges-varanasi/overview.html" checkin="" checkout="" price="From ₹5,000 in the low season, ₹6,500 in the high season">A five-star hotel owned by the Taj Group.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="The Gateway Hotel" alt="" address="Nadesar Palace Grounds" directions="" phone="+91 542 250 3001" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="gateway.varanasi@tajhotels.com" fax="">
+
* <sleep name="Nadesar Palace" alt="" address="Nadesar Palace" directions="" phone="+91 542 6660002-06 " lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.tajhotels.com/business/nadesar-palace-varanasi/default.htm" checkin="" checkout="" price="From ₹20,000 in the low season, ₹29,000 in the high season.">A five-star hotel owned by the Taj Group. The building of the hotel used to be the residence of Mr. Davis, the Magistrate of Benares, in January of 1799. The same palace was later occupied by Maharaja Prabhu Narain Singh during his rule between 1889-1931.</sleep>
  A five-star hotel owned by the Taj Group, it's the nicest in the city. Rooms from $150 (or even less off-season, inquire about discounts)    </sleep>
+
  
* <sleep name="Radisson" alt="" address="The Mall, Cantonment" directions="" phone="+91 542 250 1515" url="http://www.radisson/varanasiin"></sleep>
+
* <sleep name="A Palace on the River, Rashmi Guest House " alt="" address="D, 16/28-A | Dasaswamedh" directions="On Dasaswamedh Ghat" phone="+91 542 240 2778" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.palaceonriver.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="From ₹7,000">Great views and location.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Hotel Surya" alt="" address="The Mall Cantonment" directions="" phone="+91 542 2508466" email="" url="http://hotelsuryavns.com"></sleep>
+
 
 +
* <sleep name="Radisson" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="+91 542 250 1515" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.radisson.com/varanasi-hotel-up-221002/indvaran" checkin="" checkout="" price="From ₹3,200 in the low season, ₹5,500 in the high season"></sleep>
 +
 
 +
* <sleep name="Ramada Plaza JHV" alt="" address="The Mall Cantonment" directions="" phone="+91 542 2510000" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.ramadajhvvns.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price=""></sleep>
 +
 
 +
* <sleep name="Surya" alt="" address="The Mall Cantonment" directions="" phone="+91 542 2508466" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://hotelsuryavns.com" checkin="" checkout="" price=""></sleep>
  
 
==Stay safe==
 
==Stay safe==
  
Violent crime is rare, but still do be careful in the lanes after dark.  Carry a lamp; power outages are extremely common, and the alleys are hard enough to navigate in daylight, let alone in pitch dark, because of their broken paving stones and cows common.
+
===Violent crime===
 +
Violent crime is rare, but still do be careful in the lanes after dark.   
  
Women especially need to dress conservatively and to be careful. Even taking precautions, expect to have the odd local young man try to quickly grope you and run away. Respond aggressively and loudly to try to discourage this behavior as much as possible.  
+
===Power outages===
 +
Carry a light or phone; power outages are extremely common, and the alleys are hard enough to navigate in daylight, let alone in pitch dark, because of their broken paving stones and cows common.
  
Rickshaw/taxi scams are a norm in Varanasi, and the driver will inevitably tell you that the hotel that you wish to go to has burned down, is flooded, or closed. Don't believe him. Drivers receive commission from hotels for bringing in new guests, and this is one way to trick newcomers to going to these places. Don't get annoyed, but see the exchange as playful banter and part of the Varanasi experience. However, if the driver continuously refuses to follow your instructions, threaten to get out of the rickshaw. If after all this you still end up to a different place, just refuse to pay until you arrive at your hotel. The same procedure will need to be followed when sight seeing, as drivers will inevitably try to take you to handicraft stores, from which they receive commission. If calling for a pickup from a more resepctable hostel, be wary that other taxi drivers may listen in to your phone conversation then tell another taxi driver who will pick you up pretending to be your hostel, then take you to a commision charging hostel.
+
===Groping of women===
 +
It is common to have the odd local young man try to quickly grope foreign women and run away. Respond aggressively and loudly to try to discourage this behavior as much as possible. Try to dress similar to locals (i.e. no short shorts) as not to attract attention.
  
As you approach Manikarnika Ghat you will probably be ushered toward a plain concrete building to view the funeral pyres.  The person that leads you there will say that he is a volunteer at the hospice center and will tell you how he takes care of poor people that don't have enough money to buy wood for their funerary burning. He'll tell you that wood costs 300 rupees per kilogram (it's actually closer to 5 rupees per kilogram) and that most foreigners donate between 5 and 10 kilograms of wood to his center, at which point he'll ask for a donation from you. If it isn't obvious already, this is a scam. Either tell him you have no money or that you don't feel comfortable donating at the time.
+
===Rickshaw / taxi scams===
 +
Rickshaw / taxi scams are common in Varanasi, and the driver will inevitably tell you that the hotel that you wish to go to has burned down, is flooded, or closed. Don't believe him. Drivers receive commission from hotels for bringing in new guests, and this is one way to trick newcomers to going to these places. Don't get annoyed, but see the exchange as playful banter and part of the Varanasi experience. However, if the driver continuously refuses to follow your instructions, threaten to get out of the rickshaw. If after all this you still end up to a different place, just refuse to pay until you arrive at your hotel. The same procedure will need to be followed when sight seeing, as drivers will inevitably try to take you to handicraft stores, from which they receive commission. If calling for a pickup from a more resepctable hostel, be wary that other taxi drivers may listen in to your phone conversation then tell another taxi driver who will pick you up pretending to be your hostel, then take you to a commision charging hostel.
 +
 
 +
===Cremation ghat scams===
 +
As you approach Manikarnika Ghat, you will be approached by touts posing as cremators or volunteers in a local hospice. These people will explain the cremation process and even lead you to a good viewpoint. They will then take advantage of your emotions by asking you to pay for some wood to burn the body of someone who can't afford it. They will usually insist on receiving ₹500 - if you offer less, it will be initially be declined. This is a complete scam. Either tell him you have no money or that you don't feel comfortable donating.
  
 
==Respect==
 
==Respect==
There is, rather understandably, some resentment at tourists traipsing up to the cremation ghats for raucous sightseeing at the funeral ceremonies of loved ones. Behave respectfully and ''do not'' take photographs of cremations, even from the river.
+
===Cremation ghats===
 +
There is, rather understandably, some resentment at tourists tresspasing up to the cremation ghats for raucous sightseeing at the funeral ceremonies of loved ones. Behave respectfully and ''do not'' take photographs of cremations, even from the river. You can take photographs if it is from a distance; most do not mind. There are touts who for a fee will "stop minding". Note that if it is the family that objects then you have to respect it but not if local touts object in the interest of extracting money. Offer the money and if they seem ready to accept, withdraw it and photograph! Call the police if necessary.
  
You can take photographs if it is from a distance ; most do not mind. There are touts who for a fee will "stop minding". Note that if it is the family that objects then you have to respect it but not if local riff raff object in the interest of extracting money. Offer the money and if they seem ready to accept ,withdraw it and photograph ! Call the police if necessary.
+
===Temples===
 
+
Since this city is full of temples you will have to take off your shoes/sandals at every point. so wear a flip flop which is easy to take off.
also as this city is full of temples you will have to take off your shoes/sandals at every point. so wear a flip flop which is easy to take off.
+
  
 
==Contact==
 
==Contact==
 +
BSNL, Reliance,Idea, and Airtel are the most popular '''cell phone''' services in the region. If you bring your GSM cellphone from home, you can buy a SIM card and call within India and abroad. You will need your passport and a passport photo to buy a SIM card.
  
BSNL, Reliance,Idea, and Airtel are the most popular '''cell phone''' services in the region. If you bring your GSM cellphone from home, you can get a cheap connection and cash card from Idea or Airtel from anywhere in India and call within India and abroad.  
+
'''Wi-Fi''' is available at just about every hotel or restaurant that caters to foreign tourists. '''Internet Cafes''' are common, especially in the lanes between Dasaswamedh Ghat and Assi Ghat. Usually, the shopkeepers will record your passport information before giving you access to the Wi-Fi.
  
'''Internet''' is widely available, especially in the lanes between Dasaswamedh Ghat and Assi Ghat. Price is usually Rs 20-30/hour. Several branches of Iway BROADBAND (rs.15-20)are sprinkled around town as well.
+
Calling abroad is cheap from [http://www.iwayindia.com/ Iway] branches.
  
Calling abroad is cheap from Iway branches.
+
==Get out==
  
Now a days, it is not so easy to get a new sim card because of security reasons. Normally the shopkeeper will ask for identity as well as address proof for the sim card. He will ask for photograph also which is the standard procedure.
+
* [[Agra]] - the next point on the tourist "Golden Triangle". Buses and trains, including overnight trains, leave several times a day.
  
Before giving access to internet, shopkeeper will ask for Identity proof and he will note down your details. In some cases, he will take a photostate copy of your identity proof and will keep photostate copy with him. This is as per the instructions of authorities.
+
* [[Allahabad]] - Another spiritual city along the Ganges, Allahabad can be reached via a 3-hour bus ride.
  
==Get out==
+
* [[Delhi]] - The capital city of India can be reached via a 13-hour train ride.
[[Image:Ramnagar Fort.JPG|thumb|Ramnagar Fort]]
+
 
 +
* [[Gaya]] - One of the most sacred places to do Pind Dan (funeral offerings for the benefit of the soul of the deceased). A 4+ hour drive from Varanasi.
  
*[[Gaya]] - One of the most sacred places to do Pind Dan (funeral offerings for the benefit of the soul of the deceased)
+
* [[Jaunpur]] - The district just northwest of Varanasi, it is primarily a rural area.
  
*[[Sarnath]] - One of the most sacred places for Buddhists, known as the place where Lord Buddha gave his first speech after his enlightenment.
+
* [[Khajuraho]] - South of Varanasi, it is a bit out of the way, but is famous for its many 1,000+ year-old Hindu and Jain temples.
  
*'''Ramnagar Fort''' - historical royal residence and museum across the Ganges
+
* [[Lucknow]] - known for its good food, it is a good place to stop for a day on the way to Delhi.
  
*'''Chunar Fort''' - ruins of battlements and ancient settlement 15 miles from Varanasi.
+
* [[Nepal]] - buses travel to the Nepali border where you can transfer to [[Kathmandu]] and [[Chitwan]] buses. Most buses go via [[Gorakhpur]] and can take 8-12 hours, or there are daily flights.  There are a number of travel agents in Varanasi which will sell you tourist/AC buses to [[Kathmandu]] or [[Pokhara]].  Avoid these services (especially the operator Paul Travels) because they are not actually tourist buses. Instead, they are actually the local, public buses and once you get across the Nepal border, they will try to get more money from you.
  
*[[Agra]] - the next point on the tourist "Golden Triangle". Buses and trains, including overnight trains, leave several times a day.
+
* [[Sarnath]] - One of the most sacred places for Buddhists, known as the place where Lord Buddha gave his first speech after his enlightenment. 10+ km from Varanasi, 1 hour+ by tuk-tuk (₹200 each way). Other option is take one share tuk tuk to Varanasi Jn. (₹10 to ₹25) and then another share tuk tuk to Sarnath (₹100 for four persons) - Marcha 2015
  
*[[Nepal]] - buses travel to the Nepali border where you can transfer to [[Kathmandu]] and [[Chitwan]] buses. Most buses go via [[Gorakhpur]] and can take 8-12 hours, or there are daily flights.  There are a number of travel agents in Varanasi which will sell you tourist/AC buses to [[Kathmandu]] or [[Pokhara]].  Avoid these services (especially the operator Paul Travels) because they are not actually tourist  buses.  Instead, they are actually the local, public buses and once you get across the Nepal border, they will try to get more money from you.
 
  
 
{{usablecity}}
 
{{usablecity}}

Latest revision as of 17:27, 22 May 2015

Varanasi

Varanasi Banner.jpg

Pilgrims bathing at Kedar Ghat at sunrise

Understand[edit]

Varanasi [1], once known as Benares or Banaras and Kashi, is a historical city in northern India. The city is sacred to Hindus and Jains and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with settlements dating back to the 11th century BC. Many Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi brings salvation/nirvana and so they make the trip to the city when they realize that they are close to death. For some, the culture shock of the burning corpses in plain view and the feces overflowing from the Ganges can be a bit overwhelming. However, the scene of pilgrims doing their devotions in the River Ganga at sunrise set against the backdrop of the centuries old temples is probably one of the most impressive sights in the world.

The city can be scorchingly hot in the summer months so, if possible, time your visit to fall between October and March, and bring something warm to wear for chilly days and nights, instead.

Get in[edit]

Varanasi is well connected by plane, train, and bus. The trains and buses are dirty and overcrowded.

By plane[edit]

Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport (IATA: VNS) is located 25km northwest of the city center. A taxi to/from the airport takes an hour and costs ₹750, while a tuk-tuk/auto-rickshaw can take twice as long and costs ₹500. Allow extra time due to traffic. Air India [2], JetKonnect [3], SpiceJet [4], and IndiGo [5] all operate regular flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Khajuraho, and Visakhapatnam. There are flights to Kathmandu on Buddha Air, flights to Colombo on Mihin Lanka Airlines, and flights to Bangkok on Thai Airways.

Its easy to get a state-run bus to city center, which costs less than half a dollar. Bus stand is 10 minutes walking distance from airport.

By train[edit]

There are multiple daily services to cities including Delhi (13 hours), Agra (13 hours), Lucknow (7 hours), Mumbai, and Kolkata.

Varanasi is served by three major railway stations:

  • Varanasi Junction (IR station code : BSB) - the trip between the train station and the Ganges-area costs ₹100 in a tuk-tuk.
  • Manduadih Railway Station - the trip between the train station and the Ganges-area costs ₹100 in a tuk-tuk.
  • Mughal Sarai Junction (IR station code : MGS), about 20km east of the city - the trip between the train station and the Ganges-area costs ₹500 in a taxi.

Here is a list of useful trains to reach Varanasi:

Train Number Train Name You may board at You may alight at
12424 Rajdhani Express New Delhi Mughal Sarai Junction
12436 Rajdhani Express New Delhi, Lucknow Varanasi Junction
12560 Shivganga Express New Delhi Manduadih Varanasi
12165 Lokmanya Tilak (T) - Varanasi Express Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Mumbai) Varanasi Junction
12336 Lokmanya Tilak (T) - Bhagalpur Express Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Mumbai) Mughal Sarai Junction
12333 Vibhuti Express Howrah (Kolkata) Mughal Sarai Junction, Varanasi Junction
12307 Howrah-Jodhpur Express Howrah (Kolkata) Mughal Sarai Junction
12669 Ganga Kaveri Express Chennai Central Varanasi Junction
12295 Sangamitra Express Bangalore City, Chennai Central Mughal Sarai Junction
17091 Secunderabad-Patna Express Secunderabad (Hyderabad) Mughal Sarai Junction, Varanasi Junction
14854 Marudhar Express Jaipur, Agra Fort Varanasi Junction
14864 Marudhar Express Jaipur, Agra Fort Varanasi Junction

Also see Rail travel in India

By bus[edit]

The bus station in Varanasi is located just east of the Varanasi Junction train station. A tuk-tuk from the bus station to the Ganges area costs ₹100.

Arriving from Nepal[edit]

Buses are available from major cities in Nepal to the border city of Sunauli. From the Sunauli bus station, take a rickshaw (200 NPR) to the border crossing, get your passport stamped on the Nepali side then walk through the border. After 100m of walking through no-man's land, you will find the Indian immigration office hidden away on the left hand side of the road. After going through Indian immigration, walk 300m and find the bus stop on the right hand side. From there, take the government bus to Gorakhpur, not the private lines which are far less comfortable and stop everywhere. The bus trip between the border and Gorakhpur takes 4 hours and costs ₹60. To reach Varanasi from Gorakhpur, you can either take a train from the Gorakhpur Junction train station (5-7 trains per day, 5.5-7 hour journey, ₹200-800 cost) or a bus (hourly, 8+ hour journey, ₹130 cost).

Arriving from other cities in India[edit]

There are buses run by state government from Lucknow (8 hours, ₹160), Gorakhpur (8+ hours, ₹130), Khajuraho (12 hours, ₹250), Kanpur (9 hours - ₹195), Faizabad (7 hours, ₹105), Bodhgaya (7 hours, ₹250) and Allahabad (3 hours - ₹107 for AC, ₹60 w/o AC).

Get around[edit]

Note that many streets are too narrow to be reached by cycle-rickshaw, auto-rickshaw, and car and therefore, you may have to walk a bit to reach your destination.

By foot[edit]

Typical alley in Varanasi

By foot is the only way to see the waterfront and the ghats - but be ready to be hot, sweaty, and lost - locals are usually happy to point you in the right direction. The names of ghats and signs pointing to restaurants and hotels are often painted on the walls in Roman letters. For better orientation, walk into any book store and pick up a small guide/map book that will have the list of all the ghats and their historical background.

Walking Tours are operated by many companies, with the cheapest being the daily tours operated by Stops Hostel (₹100 plus transportation, 3 hours). Walking tours are a great way to see some of the harder-to-find sights such as the Flower Market and Ayurvedic Herb Market.

By cycle-rickshaw and auto-rickshaw[edit]

The chaotic streets of Varanasi are sometimes too much to handle by foot. Therefore, it will often be convenient to travel by cycle rickshaw or auto-rickshaw. A short journey of a few kilometers should cost under ₹50, while a longer journey within the city, such as between the ghats and the train station, will cost ₹100. Further journeys, such as to Sarnath (10km), cost ₹200 each way by auto-rickshaw.

There is a pre-paid auto-rickshaw stand at the Varanasi Junction (Cantt) train station.

By car or taxi[edit]

While taxis and cars-for-hire do exist, traffic makes them impractical.

By bicycle[edit]

Bicycle rental is available from many vendors. Inquire at your hotel.

See[edit][add listing]

Varanasi is not a city with distinct tourist destinations; the experience is in watching the spectacle of life and death on the river and meandering through the alleys of the old city.

Ghats and the River Ganges[edit]

Floating away
While the use of ghats for cremation is well known, they are also used to give last rites to those who do not need cleansing by fire to purify their soul, including young children and pregnant women. Instead, their bodies are wrapped in cloth, weighted with stones and eased into the Ganga. However, it is fairly common for the ropes to give way, resulting in putrefying corpses washing up on the east shore across from the city. Steer clear if squeamish.

Dasaswamedh Ghat (main ghat)

The River Ganga is a sacred river for the Hindus and you will see traditional rituals and bathing occurring at all times of the day. On the Eastern banks, the River Ganga is flanked by a 300m wide sand belt, beyond which lies a green belt, a protected area reserved for turtle breeding. The western crescent-shaped bank of the River Ganga is flanked by a continuous stretch of 84 ghats, or series of steps leading down to the river, stretching for 6.8km. These ghats were built by Hindu kings who wanted to die along the Ganges, and they built lofty palaces along the river, most of which are now hotels, to spend their final days. You can walk along the river and see all of the ghats, but the best option for viewing the ghats is to charter a boat and see them from the river.

Hindus consider it auspicious to die in Varanasi, so some ghats are known as burning ghats, where over 200+ corpses per day are cremated in full view before their ashes are eased into the Ganga.

Some of the most popular ghats, from north to south:

  • Panchganga Ghat - the meeting of the five rivers
  • Manikarnika Ghat - the main cremation ghat; a must-see, but remain quiet and never take photographs (note: scams are plentiful here; see the "Staying Safe" section)
  • Dasaswamedh Ghat - known as the 'main' ghat, this is the site of the large evening aarti ceremony
  • Rana Ghat
  • Kedar Ghat - brightly painted in stripes and busy with bathers, very photogenic
  • Narad Ghat - the ghat on which bathing with spouse is not advised because the legend of contention
  • Harishchandra Ghat - the cremation place where Raja Harishchandra did the last rituals of his son.
  • Hanuman Ghat
  • Shivala Ghat
  • Tulsi Ghat - site of the large water purification plant
  • Assi Ghat - a popular place to stay, with many hotels, restaurants, and internet cafes

Religious buildings[edit]

New Vishvanath Temple at BHU
  • Alamagir Mosque, (overlooking Panchganga Ghat). a great place for a bird's eye view of the area.  edit
  • Durga Temple.  edit
  • Gauri Matha Temple. The devi at this temple is supposed to be the sister of the lord Kashi Vishwanath. Its a tradition to visit here just before you leave Kashi. You buy sea shells at this place and offer them to God saying that the virtues of donating the shells goes to her while you keep the virtues of having visited the holy shrines in Kashi and bathing in the ganga. The trip to Kashi is expected to yield results only after completing this custom.  edit
  • Kaal Bhairav Temple. Dedicated to Kaal Bhairav, a dreaded form of the Lord in Shiva avatar symbolizing death. Its a tradition to buy a black thread (Rs. 15), sanctify it in the shrine, then wear it on the arm, wrist or around the neck as protection against evil.  edit
  • Nepali Hindu Temple, (near Lalita Ghat). A small golden temple, built in Nepali architecture  edit
  • Shri Kashi Vishwanth Temple (Golden Temple), [6]. Security is tight making entrance difficult and sometimes completely off limits to foreigners. No bags, cellphones or pens are allowed. They can be deposited in the shops by the temple entrance. The temple was destroyed multiple times by Mughal invaders and was re-constructed by Hindu kings who followed them.  edit
  • Sankat Mochan Temple. The famous Hanuman temple, home to thousands of monkeys. Securiy is tight, mobile phones, keys etc. are not allowed inside the temple as a result of moslem terrorist bomb blasts; and as you enter you will be greeted by the sight of hundreds of monkeys on the premises. Beware- they may snatch from you if they see you carrying boxes or packets of food. Inside the temple you will find stacks of hanuman chalisa text for the use of devotees.  edit
  • Sarnath (10km from Varanasi) - It is believed that in Sarnath Buddha gave his first sermon to his disciples after getting enlightenment. There is also a Museum in Sarnath. The location is also known as Deer Park. Sarnath is 13 Km from Varanasi and is very peaceful. Several Asian countries have built Buddhist temples there following their own ancient architectural traditions.
  • Tulsi Manas Temple.  edit

Other sights[edit]

Ramnagar Fort
  • Banaras Hindu University, [7]. A very green and peaceful campus. Few actually know that this University was built during the Indian freedom struggle and is known as Oxford of the East. This is the largest residential university of Asia, with 124 departments. You can also visit Bharat Kala Bhavan, a museum of Art and Archeology inside the university. There is also a huge white marbled temple called Vishwanath Temple which was bulit by Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of the university.  edit
  • Chunar Fort, (15km southwest of Varanasi). A 2,000+ year old fort.  edit
  • Kriti Gallery, Raman Niwas, Mahmoor Ganj, Varanasi (opposite All India Radio Station), 9839058007, [8]. 11-6 pm. A place to interact with contemporary art in the city of Varanasi.  edit
  • Man Mandir Observatory.  edit
  • Ramnagar Fort, (Located on the eastern bank of the river, opposite Tulsi Ghat). The fort of the King of Kashi. Built in 1750 in the Mughal style.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Sunrise boat rides on the Ganges
  • Bathe in the Ganges - Over 60,000 people come to the ghats every day to take a dip in the sacred waters of the Ganga, most notably at sunrise. This is a fantastic sight to see. However, due to the sewage pipes that discharge feces into the river, along with sunken corpses, there is a risk of infection from numerous diseases such as hepatitis and bacteria such as e-coli. Reports have shown that the Ganges water has a fecal coliform MPN of 88,000 per 100ml, compared to a desirable fecal coliform MPN of 500 per 100ml.
  • Boat rides - Very popular, especially at sunrise and sunset. Boats can either be rowboats or motorboats. The most popular sunset ride is to start at Dasaswamedh Ghat or one of the many ghats along the river and head up to Manikarnika Ghat to see the cremations, then down to Dasaswamedh just after sunset to watch the evening aarti ceremony from the boat. Sunrise is another magical time for a ride, when the ghats are filled with Hindus bathing and starting their day - one of the most famous sights in India. You can bargain the price of the boat ride to around ₹50/person per hour. During the boat ride, other boats, usually manned by children, will float up to your boat to sell bowls with flowers and a candle to be offered to the river (₹10) or masala chai (₹10), or various trinkets that are overpriced. It is recommended to avoid polluting the river further by 'offering' non-biodegradable objects to the river. At Nishadraj Ghat, a few minutes walk from Assi Ghat, you can find a boat driver named Bhomi, a local singer renowned for his incredible voice and charming, beautiful songs; during the boat ride he sings anything from local folk songs to modern film songs and old devotional ones, and often improvises lyrics over his own songs to communicate with you and the various people gathered on the ghats.
  • Explore the alleyways - The sounds, sight and smells are just unbelievable! Walk along the ghats and up to the sights.

Festivals[edit]

  • Chhath Pooja (October/November) - The four day festival for the sun god, Dala aka Surya. Rituals include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and aragh (alcohol) to the setting and rising sun.
  • Deepavali, or Diwali (October) - The five day festival of lights. The special decorations, ceremonies at the temples, and aarti ceremony at the ghats are spectacular.
  • Maha Shivaratri (February) - A Hindu festival celebrating Lord Shiva, who lived in Varanasi according to Hindu mythology. On this day, the streets of Varanasi are filled with pilgrims and parades dedicated to Shiva occur all day. Entrance to temples will require long queue and the temples will be extremely crowded. The day of Shivaratri is also the last day of the Dhrupad Mela, a festival of "Hindustani" (a form of Indian classical music) that goes on night and day for about 72 hours.

Volunteer opportunities[edit]

  • Sanjeevani Booti (संजीवनी बूटी), Assi Ghat, (), [9]. A sexual health, drug, and HIV education NGO. There is always demand for foreigners to visit because there is always work related to public health education to be done. A great volunteer opportunity.  edit

Learn[edit]

Yoga classes[edit]

Yoga classes are very popular among visitors to Varanasi.

  • Yoga Training Centre, D.5/15, Shakarkand Lane (Near Meer Ghat), [10]. Run by Sunil Jhingan Kumar. Highly recommended.  edit
  • Siddharth Yoga Center, Mansarowar Ghat (below Lotus Lounge Restaurant), +91-92368 30966 (), [11]. Small-group yoga classes with a view of the Ganges. Taught by Siddharth.  edit

Ayurveda treatment classes[edit]

Ayurveda treatment is common in Varanasi and you can take classes to learn the techniques:

  • Punarnava Health, Raman Nivas Campus, Mahmoorganj, (In front of Radio Station), +91 9453109313 (), [12]. Classes and treatments in Ayurvedic food habits, daily routine, massage, Shirodhara, steam bath, leech therapy, Panchkarma, etc....  edit

Language classes[edit]

Other classes[edit]

  • Benares Hindu University, [14]. offers a wide range of classes taught in English on topics related to classical Indian studies.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

Varanasi is famous for its fine silk - it's on offer everywhere, but shop around and haggle!

  • Kapoor Art Private Limited, D 52/28,First Floor,Luxmi Kund ,Luxa Road (near Laxmi Temple), +91-8971849601 (), [15]. 9 AM. Varanasi First Government Approved Silk and Saree Shop,Shop to buy Traditional Banarasi Saree, Banarasi Silk Saree, Embroidary And Handwork Silk Saree.Best Collection & Resonable Price Silk Saree (9 PM,40 years) edit
  • Loan Arts & Crafts, s.20/52a nepali kothi (before hotel surya 10 yards left), 0091--9336062161 (). 12. Silk carpets, hand-made, hand-knotted oriental Persian carpets, silk products, silk pashmina, hand embroidered and hand stitched cashmere wool, papier mache and lots of handicrafts.  edit
  • Mehrotra Silk Factory, K 4-8A, Lal Ghat, Raj Mandir (near Brahma Ghat, follow the multiple yellow signs), (0091)542 2435892. Government Approved. Has set, reasonable prices and a good selection of handwoven pure silk Sarees, dress materials, bedcovers and hot chocolate and other silk materials.  edit
  • Pratha, Shop No.38, Kashi Anathalaya Building, Maldahiya (Lahurabir - Maldahiya Main Road, Lane by the Main Anathalaya Building), (0091)9451089499. 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM. A small shop by the corner, showcasing Hand Block printed cotton kurties, suits and accessories. This store does not offer commissions to guides.  edit
  • Sri Guru Perfumers, D, 32/15, Munshi Ghat (Bengali Tola Lane, before Spicie Bites. Enter Bengali Tola Lane on the way to Dasaswamedh Ghat. Turn at the Bank of Baroda ATM. There is another perfume shop on the corner before Sri Guru Perfumers, so be aware.). Very nice selection of perfumes and natural oils, some of them are made by the family of the owner Shankar Roy. Homemade incenses are great.  edit
  • The Bed Silk & Pashmina, b1/153 ganga math assi varanasi (near palach on ganges hotel), 00 91 9918280738 (), [16]. 9 am. A shop for all kind of gifts(like all kinds of silk materials and scarfs). Much more to see. 300. (9 pm,7 year) edit
  • Wow India, B 1/153, Assi Ghat Road, Ganga Math, Assi Ghat (the big corner shop, follow the tourists). A large collection of handicrafts from all over the country, good herbal teas, incense and plenty more. Prices are moderate and fixed.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

Banarasi Khana, or local delicacies, are known for their flavors. Many dishes here are flavored with asafoetida, ginger, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and/or dried fenugreek leaves.

Benares Dum Aloo is different from the dum aloo cooked elsewhere in India because the potatoes are stuffed with and cooked in a gravy that includes jaggery, fennel, and chili paste.

Varanasi is also known for its street food and chaat vendors. Aloo chaat is very common.

Varanasi Paan is famous all over India and the world. Paan is an assortment of flavors wrapped in a betel leaf. There are two versions: One that includes tobacco, and one that includes only sweet flavors. The exact ingredients depend on how much you offer, which can be as little as ₹10 or as much as ₹300. To eat the sweet version, shove the entire leaf in your mouth at once and chew until you swallow!

Rabri Malai Balai is a popular dessert in Varanasi that includes milk, sugar, almonds, and pistachio nuts. You can find it served in hole-in-the-wall or sweet shops.

There are plenty of food outlets with a very dynamic range in quality. The restaurants closer to the ghats cater more to foreign tourists, with variable success.

Benarasi Delicacies[edit]

  • Shiv Lassi Bhandar: (near the main gate of RamNagar Fort) Lassi with layers of Malai and Rabri. Superb Stuff.
  • Kashi Chat Center: (near Godowlia Crossing) Good assortment of exotic chats. Try out the Aloo Tikia Chat.
  • Madhur Jalpan:The best place for laddoos and other famous sweet delicacies is 'Madhur Jalpan', a shop that has been frequented by more than two prime ministers of India! Madhur Jalpan is on Baradev - next to the Kainiya Chitra Mandir(now Spice KCM). Again, on a small alleyway, but the sweets are to die for.
  • Lotus Lounge, D 14/27, Mansrowar Ghat,, +91 98 38 567717. A very nice place to relax and get safe and tasty food.With a nice view over the river and the ghats. mid range.  edit
  • Shree Cafe (Vegetarian restaurant), D, 15/2 Manmandir (Near Dasaswamedh Ghat, opposite - Deshbandhu Chittranjan Park), +91-9839198866. 8:30am - 9:30pm.  edit

Budget[edit]

  • 99 Not Out - Veg Cafe, 6 Kashiraj Apartment, Kamachha (Rly Stn - BHU main road near Rathyatra), 0091-9415226752, [17]. 12.00 Noon to 10.30 PM. Extremely neat & clean place serving pure veg burgers, pizza, pasta, chowmein, hot dog etc. A wide range of thick shakes and exclusive cold drinks alongwith full range of Ice Creams.  edit
  • A C Shahi Restaurant & Kesari Restaurant near Dasashwmedh ghat in Godaulia and Shahi Restaurant near Rathyatra crossing serve very good vegetarian north / south indian dishes.
  • Buffalo's Restaurant(near Kedar Ghat Post Office)Newly opened restaurant. Every Sunday they have a chess tournament and jamming sessions on Thursday. Great Thali.
  • Diamond Hotel and Jaika Restaurant near Vijaya Talkies Crossing in Bhelupur serve very good north Indian dishes.
  • Ganga View on the roof of sita guest house d 22/16 chaustti ghat, varanasi,up india,Indian Continental and Western Food Fresh Food and Purified Water (Non-veg not available)
  • Mona Lisa Cafe, (just south and opposite Shiva Cafe). Another good and popular cheapie, with a good range of things on offer, notably a thali for Rs 20, and some Japanese and Korean dishes thrown in for good measure.
  • New Bread of Life Bakery (Bread, Cakes and Brownies in Varanasi), Main Road, Parallel to Shivala Ghat (Just past the junction at Shivala Ghat, on your left/hand side heading towards Assi Ghat), 09415818188. 7am-10pm. The most amazing Chocolate brownies and Apple pies! Plus good homemade brown bread. Wonderful chocolate chip cookies; pack of three for 60 Rupees, or one for 25.  edit
  • Nice cafe, Bengali Tola (near Mona Lisa, on turn off for Vishnu GH). 7am - late. Great food cooked only by mum and family. Home kitchen. Clean. Friendly and helpful owner. Very reasonable prices, except on festival days when hot chocolate is poured over everyone for a fixed price of 1000 rupees per person. Check out the garlic / cheese nan and the pancakes! 25-55 for meal.  edit
  • Samara Restaurant (Samara), B-38/1-S, Mahmoorganj (1 KM from Rathyatra to Akashwani), 0542-2364484, [18]. 11AMto 11PM. Pure Vegetatian Indian, North Indian, Chinese, South Indian  edit
  • Shiva Cafe and German Bakery, D 26/4 Narad Ghat, (near Himalaya Lodge). In the main little alleyway that runs parallel to the river between Dasaswamedh Ghat and Assi Ghat, this place is deservedly popular. The food takes time, but that's because it's prepared fresh, and you'll be happy you waited when the food arrives. Staffed by enterprising Nepalis this has authentic pastas, sandwiches etc.Healthy food. Favourite amongst long stay residents.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Aum Cafe / Ayurvedic Cafe : near Assi Ghat, owned and run by Shivani Ayurvedic food/ Organic Teas and Coffees, Healthy Vegan/ Vegetarian friendly atmosphere with free Wi Fi. Hearty nutritious dishes. Some Indian and western choices. Located behind the temple on Assi Ghat.
  • Bread of Life Bakery, Shivala Road, (a few hundred metres north of Assi Ghat), +91 542 227 5012. Good baked goods, but also a full restaurant with okay breakfasts including "American" pancakes and canned-OJ (freshly-squeezed no longer). Used to be very popular but the quality is now questionable.
  • Brown Bread Bakery, near Meer ghat, 09838888823. Is a good bakery run by a German baker in Varanasi, be wary of the Indian run bakery on the opposite side of the road who claims charity but is just fake. Breads and pastries made from organically grown ingredients. Also a nice range of cheeses. The restaurant has a large menu including Continental, Italian, German and Indian classics, has a great rooftop and offers a breakfast buffet from 7 to 12. Quality is mostly pretty good and a part of the proceeds supports the Learn For Life society which operates a free school for disadvantaged children in Aurangabad, Varanasi. www.brownbreadbakery.com; www.learn-for-life.net
  • Filocafe' ( +91-9839066788), A space to study, read, network, converse, experiment, think… Filocafé provides a perfect heaven for this and much more. Come here to showcase or appreciate up-and-coming talents – musical, intellectual, artistic – or use this free space any other activity that relates to the city or makes us grow as people Equipped free Wi-Fi and electrical outlets available to all, Filocafé offers a variety of over 45 types of teas, real espresso coffee (yes those which come out from those Italian machines :D) and its creative varieties, fresh juices and a few munchies.. Open from 12pm to 8:30pm. A movie is shown every Sunday at 6pm followed by a special dinner.
  • Flavours Cafe, Lanka, ('above axis bank). Great coffee and desserts. Strong filter coffee and lighly accented lattes with a quiet ambiance make for a needed break from the city. Free wireless is also a plus.
  • Madhur Milan Cafe, Dashashwamedh Road, is a nice place for Indian snacks and meals at cheap prices. The price range for a persons full meal varies between Rs. 40 - 150. Cafe is primarily famous for its fried hot samosas, dosa and kachori sabji. Website : [19].
  • Megu Cafe, Kalika Gali (near Meer Ghat), has excellent vegetarian Japanese food made by a Japanese woman who settled in Varanasi a number of years ago. All dishes are Rs. 85 or less. Closed on Sundays. [December 2011] Menu prices of all items have increased and expect to pay around Rs. 100-130 for a vegetarian and around Rs. 180-200 for non vegetarian main meal.
  • Moti Mahal Delux restaurant - in Sigra, 3rd Floor, IP Mall, in the heart of the city. +91-542-2220555. One of the best Indian and mughlai restaurant in the city with a unique fine dining experience. Also provides free delivery of your meal at any location in the city. Also serves authentic chinese and continental.
  • Open Hand Shop & Cafe, Assi Ghat, (around the corner from Hotel Haifa), +91 542 2369 751, [20]. The bakery has daily fresh bread, cakes, pies & various pastries. The food selection includes set breakfast, salads, breadrolls and fruit salad. The espresso-based coffees and fresh fruit smoothies are the main attractions. The shop is selling fixed-price merchandise on fair-trade principles. Free Internet
  • Radiant Restaurant - at 28A, Sampoornanand Nagar, Sigra, Varanasi 221010, Phones:0542-2223831,2224951,6457808 may be the only 24 hours vegetarian restaurant which serves Indian Homely food apart from Continental Vegetarian dishes and Chinese vegetarian dishes. A place to get healthy and law calorie food.Also provides free delivery of your meal at any location in the city.
  • Zaika restaurant - in Shivala, opposite Hotel Broadway. Good Indian / Chinese dishes; try the sweet-corn-pakoras.

Middle-Eastern Food[edit]

Possibly due to a high influx of tourists from Israel, a number of Middle Eastern restaurants have opened in Varanasi, all of which serve very similar food, cater to a predominantly tourist clientèle, and charge a little over Rs 100 for a thali.

  • Hayat mediterreian': near Assi (new location= behind dumraon bag colony park), managed by authentic middle-easterners (from Jordan). Try the labanha (dry yoghurt), or the baba ghanSoush (eggplant) with pita. The Nanas (mint-lemon drink) are the best in town. The feta is a tad high in salt, but at least they have it. The restaurant has a tent-like lounge atmosphere that gives it a cult presence. Ask for "hello to the queen" and see smiles.
  • Phulwari / Sami Cafe: near the Vishwanath Temple crossing, you sit beside a religiously near-defunct but architecturally gorgeous Mahadev temple, and sip on iced teas and nanas. Some locals still consider this a holy site and aren't too happy about the cafe being so close.

Splurge[edit]

  • Varuna and Chowk, Taj Ganges Hotel, Nadesar Palace Grounds. Tel+91 542 250-300 - Two restaurants respectively offering Indian and Western cuisine.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Alcohol is not common in Varanasi, but it is available at a few restaurants and hotels, such as the Radisson and Taj. There are several wine shops in the old city but they don't offer any sitting arrangement. You can buy whatever you want and bring it to your hotel room.
  • Bhang is a potent, powdered form of marijuana often mixed into "special" lassis, simply called bhang lassi. The drink is especially popular on holidays as Varanasi is a major center of Shiva worship as it is offered to the lord in form of Prashad. It can be quite intoxicating.
  • Thandai is cool milk based drink made with pistachios, almonds and kesar and topped off with a large dollop of malai (cream). Bhang is often added to thicken the concoction, though it can be made without. Many Tandai stores are located near the main Godowlia, and most also serve lassi.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

The most interesting area to stay is around the ghats, which are the main attractions for foreigners and are close to the religious attractions. However, this area is extremely noisy and many accommodation choices here are subpar, so do some research before you book. An alternative to staying in Varanasi is to stay near the main train station (Varanasi Junction). This area has some very nice new places popping-up in the recent years and is only about 10 minutes on a tuk-tuk. Another alternative is the much quieter Sarnath, 10+ km from Varanasi, but it takes 75+ minutes each way to reach Varanasi by tuk-tuk (₹200).

Some budget accommodations advertise free morning and evening boat rides along the river. However, the boat will take you up the river and then let the passengers know that for the return trip, there is a fee of ₹60 per person. Those who do not want to pay can get out of the boat and walk back.

Beware that Varanasi, particularly during summer, is prone to many hours of power outages a day. It is best to double check that your fan or A/C is run from a backup generator, or you may not have it for much of the day.

Budget[edit]

Hostels[edit]

  • International Travellers' Hostel & Bistro, C-32/4, Vidyapeeth Road, Varanasi, 221002 (5 min walk from Varanasi Junction station, opposite Gate #2 of Vidyapeeth University.), +91 7860749132, [21]. A hostel run out of an ancestral family house. The owner lives in Germany, but his staff, Dada and Manash, manage the hostel. There are mixed and female dormitories available with 4-5 beds each. There is a cottage-style luxury room with en-suite bathroom for the ones with a slightly higher budget, and a tent for the ones on extremely tight budget. Breakfast is included in nightly prices. The rooms are cozy and silent with comfortable beds. A/C dorms have single beds and are very spacious. The hostel also features a bistro that serves delicious vegetarian and vegan meals. Their menu also includes – rare to find in India – authentic Italian coffee. There are several pleasant common areas – including a garden and a huge rooftop. It's a great place to be away from the chaos of Varanasi. Very good to socialize with other travellers, and for celebrating Indian festivals, especially Holi. Includes Wi-Fi, TV, iPod dock, DVDs, books, card & board games, PC, lockers, washing machine, communal kitchen and purified drinking water. They also offer power generator back-up, which can be very helpful during scorching Indian summers, so that your room A/C functions even through the long power outages that are very common in India. All-in-all a unique hostel. Highly recommended. Tent: ₹490; Dorm beds: ₹440 / ₹590; Luxury room: ₹2,990.  edit
  • Ram Bhawan / Kautilya Society Residence (कौटिल्य संघ), D-20/21 Munshi Ghat (on the banks of the River Ganga), +91 542-2452179, +91 542-2455139 (), [22]. This is the study center of an NGO that supports responsible development through dialogue that also offers rooms for students and scholars. The residence is similar to an Indian home with simple comforts and colonial teak furniture. In accordance with Indian law, all guests must become members of the Society and pay membership dues of ₹300. These donations cover half board (₹200 per day for additional guests sharing the same room). In low season rates are approximately 20% lower. Long term guests can enjoy special discounts. Dorm bed: ₹400; Single: ₹1,000; Double: ₹1,700.  edit
  • Stops Art Hostel, B 20/47, A-2, Vijayanagaram Colony, Bhelupur (1.1km east of Hanuman Ghat, near the water tower. In an alleyway behind the Dolphin Hotel), (), [23]. checkin: 12PM; checkout: 11AM. Bright, airy, super modern hostel. Location in an alleyway makes it quieter. In a large 3 floor house. Affordable organized activities all day including walking tours (₹100+transport), boat trips, cooking classes (₹200), yoga/mediation classes, movie nights, etc...The hostel is run by a very professional young Indian couple with superb English and a very keen understanding of what a hostel should be with full recommendations for eating, drinking, tourism etc. It has A/C, 24 hour security and a very happy relaxed vibe, especially out on the shaded balconies on the upper floor, complete with benches and sofas, great for meeting other travellers. Highly recommended. Tent on roof: ₹350; Dorm bed: ₹450-650; Double: ₹1900.  edit
  • Zostel Varanasi, D-54/16-D, Jaddumandi, Aurangabad Luxa Road. checkout: 10AM. A friendly hostel located 20 minutes walk to the main ghat. Very noisy location, but a great place to meet people. Dorm bed: ₹390; Double: ₹990.  edit

Guesthouses[edit]

  • Bhadrakali Guest House, Along the river, just off the main ghat, +91 542 245 4104 (), [24]. The guesthouse is a colourful, family-owned, music-oriented house with panoramic views of the city and of the River Ganga. A couple of the rooms in this cozy 7 room Guesthouse also have balconies and river views. Highly recommended.  edit
  • Ganga Fuji Home, (between Man Mandeer Ghat and Dasaswamedh Ghat), [25]. checkin: 11AM; checkout: 11AM. Some rooms have shared bathroom; more expensive rooms have A/C and TV. All rooms are clean, with clean sheets and towel. The rooftop restaurant offers evening concerts every night. Double: ₹840 (non AC), ₹1,300 (w/AC).  edit
  • Ganges Inn, D20/10 Munshi Ghat, Bangali Tola, Dashaswamedh, Varanasi (http://goo.gl/SWz73e), +91 542 2450611 (), [26]. checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. Excellent location! Everything is just a few minutes away (1 minute to the river, 2 minutes to the Main Ghat where Aarti/nightly ceremony takes place). The owner is very friendly and will treat you like you're a member of his family. Rooms with A/C, hot water/kettle, flatscreen TV, reliable and free wifi (lobby and rooms).  edit
  • Golden Lodge, D 8/35, Kalika Gali (Near Manikarnika Ghat), +91 99355 12368, [27]. Tucked away in the alleyways, friendly staff. Restaurant on site. Single w/shared bath: ₹350; Double w/shared bath: ₹400; Add 100% for AC, add ₹150 for attached bath. 20% discount in low season..  edit
  • Groovy Ganges Guesthouse (ग्रूवी गंगा गेस्ट हाउस), B2/225, B-6-A, Bhadaini (in Bhadaini neighborhood, near Assi Ghat), 993.618.0896 (, fax: (001)206.984.1165), [28]. checkin: whenever; checkout: no hurry. Live in an Indian home with an Indian family. Popular with long-term students, researchers, and activists wanting to integrate into local culture. Boiled water is used for all cooking. Book well in advance since many clients are long term. ₹3,000/week.  edit
  • Hotel River View, K-20/133,134 Rajmandir Brahma Ghat (Walk north from Dasaswamedh Ghat for about 15 minutes, and follow the numerous blue and white painted signs), [29]. US$10-25.  edit
  • Kedar Guest House, B-1/148-A-2-KH, Lodging Street, Dumraon Colony (Just west of Ravidas Ghat, along the Assi River), +91 542 236 8853, [30]. Highly recommended. Amazing views. The owner is very knowledgeable and will give you maps and explain Varanasi. Single: ₹250 in low season, ₹350 in high season; Double: ₹400-1,550 in low season, ₹600-1,850 in high season. Breakfast included.  edit
  • Maa Vaishno Guest House (माँ वैशो गेस्ट हाउस), B5/188 Shivala Ghat (Shivala Ghat, just off Hanuman Ghat), +91-9389178569 (). checkin: 24hr; checkout: 12-noon. One of the cheapest decent guesthouses in the area. Family run guesthouse. 10 clean rooms, all with attached bathroom with running hot and cold shower and view of the Ganga. Roof top restaurant, sunrise & sun set from roof & room, Free Wi-Fi, laundry service. ₹200-250.  edit
  • Marigold P. Guest House, D20/10-D Munshi Ghat, Dashashwmedh Ghat (off the main ghat), +919559811240 (). checkin: 13:00; checkout: 12:00. Rooftop view of the Ganges. Highly recommended. From ₹700.  edit
  • Maruti Guest House (मारुती गेस्ट हाउस), Sahodarbir (near Assi Ghat), 231.2261. Friendly family run guest house with clean well lit rooms. There is a roof top garden and restaurant where fresh home made food is served. Power backup for the rooms and hot showers are available as well as broadband Internet access. The owner of the guest house, Dr. V.N. Tripathi, gives Yoga and meditation lessons upon request.  edit
  • Mishra Guest House, Ck 8/178 Garwasi tolla Gaumath Varanasi (Near Manikarnika Ghat), +91 542 240 1143, [31]. The rooftop restaurant offers free evening concerts every night. Single: ₹200; Double (non-AC): ₹300-400; Double (w?AC): 600-950.  edit
  • Monu Family Paying Guest House, D8/4 Kalika Gali (Near Golden Temple), +91 542 240 0908 (), [32]. checkin: 13:00; checkout: 11:00. Music, cookery and language courses are available. Single: ₹500; Double: ₹900 (plus ₹500 for AC).  edit
  • Radiant YMCA Tourist Hostel (वायएमसीए हॉस्टल), Mahmoorganj Road, Sampoornanand Nagar Colony (3km east of the main ghat), +91 542-2224951,2223831, [33]. Opened in 1998. Restaurant with large menu. Does not have dormitories, despite being called a hostel. From ₹765.  edit
  • Sahi Riverview Guest House, B1/158 A2, Assi Ghat (on Assi Ghat, next to Harmony Book Shop), [34]. Very clean and quiet. Great river views! Recommended. From ₹500.  edit
  • Sameer Guest House, Near Mahanirvan Ghat and Chet Singh Fort. Maybe not too much clean, but the people here is good. Free wifi, filter water, hot water and breakfast. The place has a really nice garden. * Shiva Kashi Guest House, D22/4 Chausatti Ghat (At Raja Ghat), +91 923 551 2294, [35]. Very clean, well-decorated, quiet guest house. Pleasant and helpful staff. Rooms have windows, are light and airy. Some have balconies. Highly recommended. ₹500-2,000.  edit ₹500-2,000.  edit
  • Sita Guest House, (On the banks of the Ganges, next to the main ghat), +91 542 2450061 or 3251088 (), [36]. Rooms are reasonably clean, somewhat small and most have a view over the river. Supposedly hot water in every room, the hotel also has a generator for the many power cuts in Varanasi but this often doesn't cover the A/C. Rooftop restaurant. Double (w/AC): ₹1,500-3,000.  edit
  • Tiwari Guest Lodge, B-1/243-A, Assi Ghat (Assi Crossing, across the street from Hotel Haifa), +91 2315129. Run by a Brahmin and has a small temple on the site. Very relaxed and well maintained by local standards but do not expect staff to be present all the time. For check-in, the owner can usually be found sitting in the aryuvedic massage cubicle late afternoons. Bring your sheets and towel. Door is locked from midnight to 6AM. Double: ₹500.  edit
  • Vishnu Rest House, Pandey Ghat, +919450870727, [37]. A hotel spanned over 200 year old Vishnu temple. A very clean and friendly guest house over looking the river, some rooms with views. You will often find classical music programs and puja held during morning and evening time. The rooms are with power backup and hot water.  edit

Mid-range[edit]

  • Royal Guest House, 3rd Floor Bindal Complex, Mahmoorganj (Near Ksheer Sagar, less than 1km from the Manduadih railway station), +91 0542 2222007 (, fax: +91 0542 2222007), [38]. checkout: 12PM. Single: ₹2000; Double: ₹2500.  edit
  • Diamond Hotel, Durgakund Road, Bhelupur (Near IP Vijaya Mall, less than 1km from the ghats), +91 0542 2276696 (, fax: +91 0542 2276703), [39]. checkout: 12PM. Single: ₹2,500-3,750; Double: ₹3,000-5,500.  edit
  • Hotel New Temple's Town, 53, Patel Nagar, Cantonment (Just north of Varanasi Junction Railway Station), +91 542-2507733, +91 542-2507735 (). checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. US$43.  edit
  • Gautam Hotel, C-26/35D, Lahurabir, Ramkatora Crossing, +91 94530 37806, [40]. checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. A budget 3-star hotel. Not walkable to the ghats. US$16-25.  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • The Gateway, (Nadesar Palace Grounds), +91 542 250 3001 (), [41]. A five-star hotel owned by the Taj Group. From ₹5,000 in the low season, ₹6,500 in the high season.  edit
  • Nadesar Palace, Nadesar Palace, +91 542 6660002-06, [42]. A five-star hotel owned by the Taj Group. The building of the hotel used to be the residence of Mr. Davis, the Magistrate of Benares, in January of 1799. The same palace was later occupied by Maharaja Prabhu Narain Singh during his rule between 1889-1931. From ₹20,000 in the low season, ₹29,000 in the high season..  edit
  • A Palace on the River, Rashmi Guest House, D, 16/28-A | Dasaswamedh (On Dasaswamedh Ghat), +91 542 240 2778, [43]. Great views and location. From ₹7,000.  edit
  • Radisson, +91 542 250 1515, [44]. From ₹3,200 in the low season, ₹5,500 in the high season.  edit
  • Ramada Plaza JHV, The Mall Cantonment, +91 542 2510000, [45].  edit
  • Surya, The Mall Cantonment, +91 542 2508466, [46].  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Violent crime[edit]

Violent crime is rare, but still do be careful in the lanes after dark.

Power outages[edit]

Carry a light or phone; power outages are extremely common, and the alleys are hard enough to navigate in daylight, let alone in pitch dark, because of their broken paving stones and cows common.

Groping of women[edit]

It is common to have the odd local young man try to quickly grope foreign women and run away. Respond aggressively and loudly to try to discourage this behavior as much as possible. Try to dress similar to locals (i.e. no short shorts) as not to attract attention.

Rickshaw / taxi scams[edit]

Rickshaw / taxi scams are common in Varanasi, and the driver will inevitably tell you that the hotel that you wish to go to has burned down, is flooded, or closed. Don't believe him. Drivers receive commission from hotels for bringing in new guests, and this is one way to trick newcomers to going to these places. Don't get annoyed, but see the exchange as playful banter and part of the Varanasi experience. However, if the driver continuously refuses to follow your instructions, threaten to get out of the rickshaw. If after all this you still end up to a different place, just refuse to pay until you arrive at your hotel. The same procedure will need to be followed when sight seeing, as drivers will inevitably try to take you to handicraft stores, from which they receive commission. If calling for a pickup from a more resepctable hostel, be wary that other taxi drivers may listen in to your phone conversation then tell another taxi driver who will pick you up pretending to be your hostel, then take you to a commision charging hostel.

Cremation ghat scams[edit]

As you approach Manikarnika Ghat, you will be approached by touts posing as cremators or volunteers in a local hospice. These people will explain the cremation process and even lead you to a good viewpoint. They will then take advantage of your emotions by asking you to pay for some wood to burn the body of someone who can't afford it. They will usually insist on receiving ₹500 - if you offer less, it will be initially be declined. This is a complete scam. Either tell him you have no money or that you don't feel comfortable donating.

Respect[edit]

Cremation ghats[edit]

There is, rather understandably, some resentment at tourists tresspasing up to the cremation ghats for raucous sightseeing at the funeral ceremonies of loved ones. Behave respectfully and do not take photographs of cremations, even from the river. You can take photographs if it is from a distance; most do not mind. There are touts who for a fee will "stop minding". Note that if it is the family that objects then you have to respect it but not if local touts object in the interest of extracting money. Offer the money and if they seem ready to accept, withdraw it and photograph! Call the police if necessary.

Temples[edit]

Since this city is full of temples you will have to take off your shoes/sandals at every point. so wear a flip flop which is easy to take off.

Contact[edit]

BSNL, Reliance,Idea, and Airtel are the most popular cell phone services in the region. If you bring your GSM cellphone from home, you can buy a SIM card and call within India and abroad. You will need your passport and a passport photo to buy a SIM card.

Wi-Fi is available at just about every hotel or restaurant that caters to foreign tourists. Internet Cafes are common, especially in the lanes between Dasaswamedh Ghat and Assi Ghat. Usually, the shopkeepers will record your passport information before giving you access to the Wi-Fi.

Calling abroad is cheap from Iway branches.

Get out[edit]

  • Agra - the next point on the tourist "Golden Triangle". Buses and trains, including overnight trains, leave several times a day.
  • Allahabad - Another spiritual city along the Ganges, Allahabad can be reached via a 3-hour bus ride.
  • Delhi - The capital city of India can be reached via a 13-hour train ride.
  • Gaya - One of the most sacred places to do Pind Dan (funeral offerings for the benefit of the soul of the deceased). A 4+ hour drive from Varanasi.
  • Jaunpur - The district just northwest of Varanasi, it is primarily a rural area.
  • Khajuraho - South of Varanasi, it is a bit out of the way, but is famous for its many 1,000+ year-old Hindu and Jain temples.
  • Lucknow - known for its good food, it is a good place to stop for a day on the way to Delhi.
  • Nepal - buses travel to the Nepali border where you can transfer to Kathmandu and Chitwan buses. Most buses go via Gorakhpur and can take 8-12 hours, or there are daily flights. There are a number of travel agents in Varanasi which will sell you tourist/AC buses to Kathmandu or Pokhara. Avoid these services (especially the operator Paul Travels) because they are not actually tourist buses. Instead, they are actually the local, public buses and once you get across the Nepal border, they will try to get more money from you.
  • Sarnath - One of the most sacred places for Buddhists, known as the place where Lord Buddha gave his first speech after his enlightenment. 10+ km from Varanasi, 1 hour+ by tuk-tuk (₹200 each way). Other option is take one share tuk tuk to Varanasi Jn. (₹10 to ₹25) and then another share tuk tuk to Sarnath (₹100 for four persons) - Marcha 2015


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