Varanasi is one of the holiest and oldest cities in the world where many devout Hindus come to look for salvation and enlightenment. Settled on the riverbanks of the sacred Ganges, Varanasi is the ultimate pilgrims destination. A city that has seen the world change in the past 5000 years, full of history and legends, full of life, colors and endless energy.
There’s a belief that this spiritual city offers liberation from the cycle of birth and death, that a single dip in the holy waters of the Ganges will clean all sins.
Varanasi was the last place we visited in India and our most favorite of all. It was quite of an adventure getting there from Agra on a overnight train. Full of chaos, bustle, colors and experiences of a lifetime, Varanasi is like nothing you’ve seen before. Taking a boat ride along the sacred river offers panoramic views of the city’s spiritual significance. There’s different ghats for different purposes where you can see pilgrims performing their rituals, people bathing and brushing teeth, clothes are being washed, kids swimming, in the same water where ashes of the burned dead people are being tossed.
Although the river Ganges is sacred do not expect blue colors shades of water. Instead, more like dark brown, green muddy water with flowers and offerings thrown in by the pilgrims floating around. Occasionally you may see a dead cow or even a body floating. Each day more than 200 people are being burned and their ashes released in the river, but some people who are considered very holy are naturally placed in the river.
To fully understand this fascinating city you have to dive into the culture with open heart and mind. There’s top 3 things to do in Varanasi.
3 must things to do in Varanasi
1. Morning boat Ride in Ganges River
The holy Ganges River is the spiritual symbol of Varanasi. Taking a boat ride will be most likely the best thing to do, the memories you will cherish forever. Witness the morning hindu rituals offering prayers to the Sun God usually from 5:30am to 8am. Welcome the sunrise lighting up the colors of the ghats and opening spectacular views of this culture.
2. Sunset boat ride and evening Aarti Ceremony.
The colorful Aarti Ceremony which takes place in the Dasaswamedh ghat and is performed every night for 45 min at 6:45pm and is one of the most famous rituals. Divine view of lights, colors, aromas of flowers and incense with enchanting vibrations of the mantra chants attracts thousands of humans.
3. Walking through the ghats and streets in the city.
Tight, hectic, noisy and busy alleys offering a different glimpse and experience of the culture and the daily life of the locals.