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    View of Varanasi during day

    One of the seven holy cities for Hindus, Varanasi is a sight to behold. It is an exhausting, liberating, and uninhibited experience; all at the same time. The colossal templesghats and the other popular places to visit in Varanasi attract millions of tourists year after year. Not only is it a popular destination among the Indian travelers, foreigners love it too.

    Although the city is known for its ghats, temples, and music (yes, the music too), there are many other famous places in Varanasi that must be seen and experienced on your Varanasi trip.

    Best time to visit Varanasi

    Pilgrims approaching the East bank of the sacred Ganges river by boat at sunrise in Varanasi

    October to March is the ideal time to visit Varanasi. A five-day festival called Ganga Mahotsav is celebrated in November every year and is a star attraction in Varanasi.

    How to reach

    • By air: Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Varanasi is well connected to other Indian cities
    • By rail: The Varanasi Junction railway station is connected to all major cities in India
    • By road: Buses are available from Delhi and adjoining cities in Uttar Pradesh

    Where to stay

    Luxury hotels: Some of the finest luxury hotels in Varanasi are Hotel Clarks, Radisson Hotel, and Ramada Plaza JHV

    • Dining area in Hotel Clarks in Varanasi
      Hotel Clarks

    Budget hotels: You can pick from a range of budget hotels such as Hotel Park Inn, Hotel Alka, and Hotel City Inn. Alternatively, you can also stay in guesthouses and ashrams.

    • Interiors of a room in Hotel Park Inn in Varanasi
      Hotel Park Inn

    Must Read: Top 12 Religious Places In India: Redefining Spirituality For Gen Y

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    Top tourist places in Varanasi

    Famous ghats in Varanasi

    1. Assi Ghat – A magnet for those seeking spirituality

    Ganga aarti in Varanasi

    Located far south, Assi Ghat is where pilgrims pay homage to Lord Shiva by worshipping a huge lingam situated under a peepal tree. This ghat is a lively space, rippling in chaos and commotion and one that vividly captures the ancientness of Kashi. Among the most famous religious places in Varanasi, Assi Ghat is a must visit. The alluring sight of the arti here makes Varanasi one of the most beautiful cities in India.

    2. Dashashwamedh Ghat – The most vibrant Ghat in town

    Dashashwamedh Ghat at night

    The main ghat in Varanasi on the Ganges river, Dashashwamedh Ghat is a flamboyant place known for its spiritual transcendence. It is common knowledge that Lord Brahma sacrificed 10 horses in a yajna here, and thus the name. Dashashwamedh Ghat tops the list of tourist places in Varanasi as it is a compelling space to dawdle in this small town. Be here for the Agni Pooja or Ganga aarti, as it is popularly called.

    Note: Special aartis are held every Tuesday and on religious festivals.

    Suggested Read: 38 Most Colorful Places In India That Will Make Your Heart Skip A Beat

    3. Manikarnika Ghat – The prime cremation Ghat in Varanasi

    Manikarna Ghat in Varanasi

    Considered to be an auspicious place to be cremated, Manikarnika Ghat is among the pivotal places of interest in Varanasi. This ghat is an exasperating and startling experience in itself as absolutely nothing is considered sacrilegious here. The setting sun and the glowing pyres along with candle-lit flower bowls floating down the holy river Ganga make Manikarnika Ghat a sight to behold.

    Suggested Read: 20 Places To See Stunning Sunsets In India

    Popular temples in Varanasi

    4. Kashi Vishwanath Temple – The only Jyotirlinga in Uttar Pradesh

    Facade of Kashi Vishwanath Temple

    The list of places to visit in Varanasi would be incomplete without including the famed Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and has also been referred to in the holy scriptures. The temple structure as it stands today consists of a series of smaller shrines located in the Vishwanath Galli.

    Timings: 3 am – 11 am, 12:30 pm – 08 pm, & 09 pm – 11 pm

    5. Tulsi Manas Temple – The place where Ramcharitmanas was written

    Main entrance of Tulsi Manas Temple

    Image Source

    Among the many sightseeing places in Varanasi is the Tulsi Manas Temple, the place where Tulsidas wrote the Hindu epic Ramayana in an Awadhi dialect of the Hindi language. The temple was funded by the Birla family and constructed in white marble in 1964. Verses and scenes from Ramcharitmanas are engraved on the mandir walls.

    Timings: 5 am – 12 pm & 04 pm – 09 pm

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    6. Durga Temple – The fabled old world legend

    Durga Mandir in Varanasi

    Image Source

    Also called the monkey temple, this mandir is among the mythical places to see in Varanasi. Built in the 18th century by a Bengali Maharani, the temple is painted red with ochre. It is believed that the idol of Goddess Durga in the temple was not constructed, it appeared on its own.

    Sightseeing places in and around Varanasi

    7. Gyan Vapi Well – The well of knowledge

    Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi

    Image Source

    The Gyan Vapi well is located within the Gyanvapi Mosque, which was constructed by the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, on the site of the demolished Kashi Vishwanath Temple. During the British regime, the well was considered to be holier than the Ganges and was among the important places to visit in Varanasi as it contains the Shiva lingam.

    8. Ramnagar Fort & Museum – The Mughal era fortification

    Ramnagar Fort view during day

    Located opposite to the Tulsi Ghat, the Ramnagar Fort is an 18th-century crumbling ruin in dire need of restoration. However, the crimson sunset as viewed from inside this enclosure is reason enough to give Ramnagar Fort a spot on the list of places to visit in Varanasi. This old rampart is also home to a vintage museum that is famous for its rare collection of old American cars, ivory works, medieval costumes, and a huge astronomical clock.

    Timings: 10 am – 05:30 pm
    Entry fee: INR 20 for Indians | INR 150 for foreigners

    9. Chunar Fort – A spooky little rampart

    A shot of Chunar Fort

    Image Source

    Situated in the Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh, the Chunar Fort is located approximately 23 km southwest of Varanasi. The earliest recorded history in Chunar is from the 16th century, traced to a garrison of the Mughal emperor, Babar. The tombs of some of his soldiers are still venerated here. The fort is believed to be divinely blessed and is among the popular places to visit in and around Varanasi in one day.

    10. Sarnath – The famed historical ruin

    Dhamekh Stupa in Panchayatan Temple ruins in Sarnath

    Located 13 km northeast of Varanasi, Sarnath is among the famous Buddhist pilgrimages in India. It is a popular place to visit around Varanasi for those seeking peace and solitude after jostling their way through the frazzled ghats and gullies of Kashi. After achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya, the Buddha came to Sarnath seeking his former companions and thus gave his first sermon here.

    Popular sightseeing places in Sarnath include the Dhamekh Stupa & Monastery Ruins, the Archaeological Museum, the Chaukhandi Stupa, the Ashoka Pillar, the Mulagandha Kuti Vihar, and the Chinese & Thai Temple and Monastery.

    Suggested Read: These 9 Mysterious Temples Of India And Their Weird Rituals Will Amaze The Hell Out Of You

    Other places of interest in Varanasi

    11. Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum – The hub of art and culture

    Front view of Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum

    A distinctly classical sound, characteristic of an endless stream of madness rings through Varanasi. And the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum located within the prestigious Banaras Hindu University bears testament to this rippling clangor. The museum was set up in 1920 with Rabindranath Tagore as its honorary chairman and is among the foremost tourist places in Varanasi today. The museum showcases miniature paintings, sculptures, and local history displays. It also has an art gallery dedicated to the Russian artist, Nicholas Roerich.

    12. Man Mandir Observatory – The Varanasi heritage

    Courtyard of Man Mandir Observatory

    Located on the Man Mandir Ghat, this masonry observatory is established atop the Man Singh Palace. It was built in 1737 by Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur city. The observatory consists of 4 main astronomical instruments and is among the heritage places to see in Varanasi. The Man Mandir Observatory is now under the Archaeological Survey of India and needs to be refurbished.

    Timings: Sunrise – sunset
    Entry fee: INR 5 for Indians | INR 100 for foreigners

    13. Alamgir Mosque – Reminiscent of the Mughal era

    Alamgir Mosque in Varanasi

    Image Source

    Built on the site of a desecrated Vishnu temple in the 17th century, the Alamgir Mosque is among the famous religious places in Varanasi. The mosque as it stands today, dominating Panchganga Ghat is proof of the ludicrous methods adopted by the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. Non-muslims are not allowed to enter the mosque.

    Cafes in Varanasi

    14. Brown Bread Bakery – The first organic bakery and restaurant in Varanasi

    2 girls in Brown Bread Bakery

    Image Source

    Situated near the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Brown Bread Bakery is a rooftop restaurant known for its European Breakfast buffet. The organic shop at this cafe includes palatable cheese, cookies, and cakes; making it one of the most popular Varanasi tourist places. It is thronged by Indians and foreigners alike.

    Timings: 7 am – 10 pm
    Average cost for two: INR 500


    15. Lotus Lounge – The most famous terrace lounge

    Visitors enjoying food and view in Lotus Lounge

    Image Source

    Among the ultimate Varanasi tourist places, the Lotus Lounge is a comfortable, relaxing space perched right over Mansarowar Ghat. Replete with lounge cushions and tatami mats, their terrace makes for a lovely place to destress after spending an entire day soaking in the atmosphere of Banaras. Sit here contemplating eternity while sipping on your Hot Chocolate.

    Timings: 8:30 am – 10 pm
    Average cost for two: INR 600

    16. Open Hand Shop & Cafe – A lively modern space

    Cashier in Open Hand Shop & Cafe

    Image Source

    Located near Assi Ghat, the Open Hand Shop & Cafe is among the famous tourist places in Varanasi. The best part about this cafe is its remodeled space and furnishings that make it a perfect chilling spot. Selling captivating handicrafts made by the local community, Open Hand Shop & Cafe is mostly thronged by foreign tourists.

    Timings: 8:30 am – 10 pm
    Average cost for two: INR 450


    Shopping in Varanasi

    17. Godowlia Market – The busiest shopping junction in town

    Shopkeeper in Godowlia

    The biggest and the busiest market in town, Godowlia is among the popular tourist places in Varanasi. It sells everything from daily household items to glass bangles and trinkets. The smell of camphor that wafts out of every second shop in this market will surely get you drunk on the divine.

    18. Chowk & Vishwanath Gali – The real essence of the city lies here

    A saint in Chowk and Vishwanath Gali

    Two of the most popular street markets in town, Chowk and Vishwanath Gali are the quintessential places to visit in Varanasi. Famous for their silk items and ornate jewelry, these markets are always full of life, whether it is in the sweltering summer or the foggy winter. Head here to experience the real Banarasi mizaaj.

    Tip: Don’t forget to binge on the street food.

    19. The Banaras Silk Emporium – For the love of Banarasi silk

    Colorful Banarasi Sarees

    The Banaras Silk Emporium is a leading manufacturer, wholesaler, and exporter of traditional silk sarees, stoles, and bed covers offering reasonable prices and impeccable quality. Situated on the Cantonment Road, this place is a must visit for everyone looking to splurge on Banarasi silk.

    Suggested Read: Top 11 Shopping Destinations in India

    20. Shri Gandhi Ashram Khadi Bhandar – For natural and organic products

    Khadi handloom in Varanasi

    Image Source

    The Shri Gandhi Ashram Khadi Bhandar is situated on the Sankat Mochan Road. Selling saris, kurta pajamas, shirts, and head scarves, this place should be visited by all the fans of the homespun fabric.

    Timings: 10 am – 7:30 pm

    Wonder how many times we value what we have or what we get. If you too, are looking for answers or just seeking some new experiences in life, Varanasi is where you should be headed.

    Further Read: 20 Beautiful Places To Visit In North India

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    Category: Varanasi

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