A quick guide to Varanasi - City of Gods and Ghats.

A quick guide to Varanasi

Veronica Di Pilla


Varanasi, or Benares, is a city located in northern India, in the Ganges valley, considered a holy city by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains: in fact, Varanasi is a place of Hindu pilgrimage known as “the city of the temples ”and as an important cultural center of India. It is also a center characterized by silk weaving.
The funeral rites that take place there (the bodies of the deceased are burned, which exhausts the cycle of reincarnations) have become one of the symbols of the country.


The thousand ghats of Varanasi


The Varanasi ghats are the steps leading to the Ganges, where much of the city's spiritual life unfolds. There are 88 ghats in the city and without a doubt the most interesting thing to do in Varanasi is to go and visit all the ghats at different times of the day: you cannot miss the sunrise, when on the steps there are only those who start the day with a prayer and a purifying bath and sunset, especially for the Ganga Aarti that takes place every night. The Ganga Aarti takes place every night in three sacred cities of India (Varanasi, Rishikesh and Haridwar), it is a ritual to say thanks to the Mother Goddess Ganga.
The most popular ghat is the Manikarnika Ghat, also called Burning Ghat. For Hindus, being cremated at this exact point is the only way to end the cycle of rebirths, achieving liberation and leaving Saṃsāra. You cannot take pictures in this place: it is very fascinating, but you have to remember that it is a place of suffering for the relatives of the deceased.

What to visit and what to do
Kashi Vishwanath Temple - Golden Temple


For Hindu believers, Varanasi is not only the holiest city in India because the gods came here to bathe in the Ganges, but also because one of the 12 jyortilinga is contained in the Vishwanath temple (black phallic statues representing the rally highest of Shiva). The Golden Temple is named for its finely crafted golden dome with floral motifs.


Boat trip:
A micro cruise on the Ganges


It is very interesting to take a small cruise on the Ganges, which is to jump on one of the many boats and boats that overflow in the river, enjoying the spectacle of the ghats from a different perspective. The most fascinating time for your boat ride is surely sunrise or just before sunset.


Go to kathak and tabla class


Varanasi is also the place of Benares Gharana, a true music school. If you like music you have to try to play tabla, a percussion instrument consisting of two drums, which is used in India in classical, religious and popular.

Man Singh Astronomical Observatory


Among all the ghats, look for the Man Mandir Ghat, because it hides a very interesting surprise, that is, an astronomical observatory built inside the Man Mahala around 1737.


When to go

Uttar Pradesh is one of the northern Indian states of India with the most extreme climate, i.e. hot summers and very cold winter. The post-monsoon period, from October to December, is an excellent time to travel. Also January, February and March, full of cultural events and festivals, are perfect months to visit this place.
Another fascinating time to go is during Dev Diwali, meaning the most important Hindu celebration of the year. The date is not fixed, but papal days can be limited between October and November.