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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 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
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.
There are buses run by state government from Lucknow (8hrs), Kanpur (9hrs - Rs. 195) and Allahabad(3hrs - Rs. 88)
'''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.
'''By car''' There are many car rental companies available.
* <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="[email protected]" fax=""></listing>
* '''"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.
For availing this service, you can contact through phone on 91-95803 60440 or email at
* '''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.
* <do name="Sanjeevani Booti" alt="संजीवनी बूटी" address="Assi Ghat" directions="" phone="" email="[email protected]" 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>
* <do name="Punarnava Health" alt="address= dumraon bag colony" address="
* '''Yoga''' is also popular, and the same rules apply.
*<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>
*'''Shiv Lassi Bhandar''': (near the main gate of RamNagar Fort) Lassi with layers of Malai and Rabri. Superb Stuff.
*'''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.
* '''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.
* '''Zaika''' restaurant - in Shivala, opposite Hotel Broadway. Good Indian / Chinese dishes; try the sweet-corn-pakoras.
* <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="Sahi Riverview Guest House" alt="" address="" directions="on Assi Ghat, next to Harmony Book Shop" phone="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="Rs
* <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>
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