Everything you Need to Know about Varanasi (Benares)
Varanasi, traditionally known as Banaras (Benares) in India, is a popular holy city of the nation located in the central region of the Ganges Valley in North India. This city is not just the oldest in India but happens to be the oldest colonized cities universally. Banaras has religious as well as literal significance. This city is known for world renowned universities like Banaras Hindu University (founded by Madan Mohan Malvia), Sampurnanand Sanskrit University and the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth. Therefore the city is generally referred to as the city of temples or the city of learning.
Varanasi enjoys a subtropical climate (majorly humid because of the presence of River Ganges). The summers are very humid and hot. You can try and visit Varanasi from September to November. Winters are generally cold during to the Himalayan influence. Varanasi enjoys a tremendous tourist rate every year. Major part of its economy depends on tourism.
Varanasi is an old city and still follows the same traditional culture for ages now. This city truly demonstrates India’s rich culture. People of numerous religions (Hindus, Jains) believe in the rituals and practices of this holy city. Buddhism was also founded here itself. Varanasi has also produced several artists, musicians and writers.
Just as we said that Varanasi is popularly known as the ‘holy city of India’, there are so many sacred Hindu temples that you can’t afford to miss if you visit the place. You will need a wholesome trip to cover all these significant temples. The first and foremost temple would be the Kashi Vishwanath Temple that makes Varanasi Banaras in real terms. This temple is located on the outskirts and hold great importance in the Hindu Mythology. Built in 1780, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is also known as the Golden Temple.
The Sankat Mochan Temple is another popular Hanuman Temple in the town. You could also visit the Durga Temple, the Kalbhairav Temple, the Bharat Mata Temple or the New Vishwanath or the Birla Temple. Varanasi is also renowned for its Ghats. The place has about a hundred beautiful Ghats where you can bathe. Many of these Ghats are also used for cremation. Some of the popular Varanasi Ghats include the Kali Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat, the Scindia Ghat (has the sacred Shiva Temple by its side) the Dashashwamedh Ghat ( located very close to the Vishwanath Temple) and the Man Mandir Ghat.
Varanasi is also home to several Museums like the Jantar Mantar (located near the Dashashwamedh Ghat), the Archaeological museum, the Ramnagar Museum and the Bharat Kala Bhavan (inside the BHU campus, founded in 1920) . If you are in Varanasi then Ramgarh Fort, located about 14 km from Varanasi is a must visit. This is the inherited abode of the Maharaja of Banaras.
Varanasi Restaurants & Dining
Every place has its own cuisine. The culture of the place plays a significant role in influencing the cuisine and eating habits of the inhabitants. Similarly, Varanasi also offers a sumptuous cuisine to tempt your palate. To start with, Varanasi is renowned for its ‘paan’. This green looking eatable is stuffed with a beetle nut mixture and tobacco (sometimes) and is served after meals. The city is known for its sweet tooth as it has plenty of special sweet recipes to offer. Some of the Banarsi sweet delicacies include the Rabri, Lassi and Malai. If you wish to taste some authentic Banarsi mithai (sweets), visit the Shiv Lassi Bhandar. Do not forget to order for Lassi with Malai and the Rabri. This place is very near to the RamNagar Fort. We also suggest you to taste some great chats at the Kashi Chat Center near the Godwila Crossing. You could also take home some great laddoos (Indian sweet) for friends and relatives from Madhur Jalpan near the Chitra Mandir. If you want to eat at a nice multi cuisine restaurant, then Varanasi has a lot of them. Zaika (located in Shivala) is a popular Indian and Chinese restaurant. Varanasi has some amazing café style restaurant to match the taste of all the international visitors. Some of these include the Open Hand Shop and Café, the Flavours Café, the Haifa Café, the Megu café (located at the Lanka Assi Road), the Mona Lisa Café and the Shiva Café. If you wish to taste authentic Muglai, then Moti Mahal deluxe is an excellent option.
Varanasi is a simple holy city. There is no such thing called the nightclub culture in Varanasi. This town is very traditional and enjoys the aura of the divine customs. But you can enjoy by watching movies or enjoy local dance forms. You can also enjoy the peacefulness of the Varanasi Ghats.
There is a music ashram called the International Music Central Ashram near the Dasaswamedh Ghat. They have great performances on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Other options for enjoying at night include great dining places.
Varanasi is an interesting place where you can shop for multiple items like clothes, accessories, statues, handicrafts and mangoes. Varanasi has one of the world’s best kinds of mangoes called the Langda or Malda. Varanasi is also quite popular for its silk. You will be lured to buy the attractive Banaras silk sarees in different colours, patters and designs. Banarsi silk border sarees are unique and found nowhere else in the world. Banaras Brocades are simply irresistible and the best.
Banaras is also famous for wooden handicrafts, gold jewellery, carpets and brass ware. This cultural place will lure you with fancy items hanging all over the marketplace. Banarsi embroidery is also famous all over the world. The best places to shop for these handicrafts and sarees are the Thateri bazaar, the Temple bazaar, the Gyan Vapi and the Vishwanath Gali. If you wish to buy carpets, paintings and brassware, then Thateri bazaar is the right hunt for you. You can buy Banaras silk sarees at the government run emporium at Godauli. Varanasi also has a beautiful wholesale bazaar for flowers.