Varanasi is everything your imagination conjures and more. It holds the top place among the list of sacred cities in India among Hindus. Also called the City of Lights this town lies on the western banks of the river Ganga, with plenty of mysteries and mysticism surrounding it. One of the oldest cities in the world, Kashi is the place most people head to with the idea of washing away their sins in the holy Ganges and with a legacy dating back to more than 3500 years, there are plenty of places to visit in Varanasi.
Lore’s say, it is an auspicious place to die as you can attain moksha, i.e. no more rebirth. This beautiful city is often considered the land of Lord Shiva, because of one the 12 jyotirlingas is located here in the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. An important place of pilgrimage this sacred city has more to offer than places of worship; right from fascinating architecture to royal palaces turned hotels to the learning centres. Every nook has some fascinating places to visit in Varanasi if you know where to look.
Best time to Visit Varanasi
The best time to visit Varanasi is in winter from November to February when the day-time temperatures hover around a pleasant 20°C, though average low temperatures could go down to 5°C in Jan or Feb. The winters can be cold, but it’s the best time to sight-see, as you won’t get tired as easily.
Skyscanner’s Places to visit in Varanasi
1. Kashi Vishwanath Temple
One of the most visited temples in India, the Kashi Vishwanath lies on the western banks of the river Ganga. Home to the 12th Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva, this city finds mention in most Vedas and scriptures and once has gold spires, which is why it is also called the Golden temple. Rebuilt several times over the years, the existing edifice of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple was constructed in 1780 by Queen of Indore Ahilya Bai Holkar.
Lord Vishwanath or Vishweshwar as Lord Shiva is called means the king of the universe and it is believed that people have been venerating here for more than 3500 years. Festivals like Shivratri, Holi, Dev Diwali, Makar Sankranti are must-experiences if you visit during those months.
Open hours: 4 am -11 pm
Things to do: A dip in the Ganges, explore the temple complex
2. Dasaswamedh Ghat
One of the oldest and well-known Ghats on the banks of the river Ganga, it is the place to be if you want to experience Varanasi completely. Believed to be the place where Lord Brahma performed the Dasa Ashwamedh sacrifice. It is the centre for most rituals performed in Varanasi. The ghat is one of the places to visit in Varanasi for sure.
If you find yourself looking to experience a celestial display, then make sure you visit Varanasi during Dev Diwali. The Ganga aarti held every day in the evening is a must experience. Most devotees leave lit clay lamps in water to float around creating a mesmerising view of the river.
Open hours: 8 am -7 pm
Things to do: Participate in the Ganga Aarti, sit on the banks to enjoy sunrise or sunset.
3. Gyan Kup aka the Gyan Vyapi Well
Do you know there is a mosque just next to the fabulous Vishwanath temple? What’s more, before the mosque was built it was the place where the ancient Gyan Kup or the Gyan Vapi well was situated. This well was considered the well of wisdom and it was believed to be home to one of the Lingas from the original Vishwanath temple that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb destroyed in the 17th-century.
The water from the well is supposed to be holier than the water from the river Ganga. This well is not as well known now as it was before the mosque was built in the 17th -century. However, if you like history and love the mystical then a visit to this well is a must.
Open hours: All day
Things to do: See the mosque, explore the well and maybe hear the story of how it came to be.
4. Ramnagar Fort
The seat of the monarchs of Varanasi for more than 400 years, the Ramnagar Fort lies on the eastern banks of the river Ganga just opposite the Tulsi Ghat. Built by Raja Balwant Singh in 1750, the ornamental swords, the Durbar hall that is now a museum, the palanquins and elephant howdahs are worth a look. The present Maharaja, Pelu Bhiru Singh lives in this fort even today.
Open hours: 10 am-12 pm, 2 pm-4.30 pm
Things to do: Explore the fort, check out the museum, architecture and frescoes.
5. Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum
Located in the famed Benares Hindu University, this museum is known for its rich and prolific collection of Indian paintings. There are close to 12000 paintings and most of these paintings are from the 11th-century to the 20th-century. There are plenty of Mughal era miniatures, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati marriage sculptures, the Gandhara sculptures and an 11th-century Lord Vishnu statue that attract plenty of tourists throughout the year. The museum has displays for jewellery, textiles, pottery, artefacts that are from the 1st-century to 15th-century. You need a couple of hours to explore the museum.
Open hours: 11 am-4 pm
Things to do: Check the ancient sculptures, archaeological displays and shop for gifts too.
Time Required to See Places in Varanasi
Though a fortnight or two is not enough to explore the city thoroughly, a minimum of 2-3 days to see the most popular places to visit in Varanasi is a must.
How to Reach Varanasi
Varanasi is easily accessible through direct flights from major metro airports like Mumbai and Delhi. If you are planning to reach Varanasi from other parts of the world, you can get connecting flights from Delhi and Mumbai. You can also take a Volvo, state bus or drive down to reach Varanasi. Of course, long-distance trains from most cities are also available.
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