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The Ultimate Varanasi Travel Guide: Top Attractions for 2024

Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India. It is the most esteem abode of Lord Shiva.Kashi on the banks of Ganga river was named as per the combination of Varuna and Assi  rivers.It is a place where one is believed to attain moksha. The cremation in ghats makes one believe about the fragility of life .In this guide for Varanasi we unfold the spiritual attractions, architecture magnificence, rich culture and heritage of India.

Top 15 Places to Visit in Varanasi

History of Varanasi

Varanasi has a long history spanning three thousand years and has great historical,spiritual and cultural significance .Varanasi has a rich culture during the Mauryan Dynasty. King Ashoka used to visit here frequently and contributed in making of various pillar. It gradullay started to be a place of business where traders would come to buy and sell. Tulsidas and Kabir worked here which added to rich literature and history of Varanasi.

Mughal architecture in Ramnagar Fort and Alamgir Mosque adds to the beauty of the city. The British East India company ruled here and introduced modern concepts and information. Varanasi is thus a city deeply etched in history, art and has contributed to great progress in Indian civilisation over years.

1. Shri Kashi Viswanath Temple

The Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most iconic Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. The architectural excellence of this temple,rich carvings,sound of bells,holy chantings,make it a place to be revered. The temple embodies the rich culture and heritage of india.

The temple embodies the rich culture and heritage of india. The hall has miniature shrines of hindu gods.There is a brown stone sculpture of Lord Shiva at the centre of the hall. A silk dhoti and angavastram is donated to Lord Shiva as part of tradition.

Timings: 3 am – 11 am, 12:30 pm – 08 pm, and 9 pm – 11 pm

Famous For: One of the twelve Jyotirlingas

  • Gold Spire and Onion Dome It has a gold-plated onion dome and 15.5-meter gold spire, which was received by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab.
  • Gyanvapi is a well in this temple and it is believed that whosoever drinks water from here will gain wisdom.

2. Assi Ghat

Assi Ghat is a breathtaking place in Varansi. Pilgrims come to worship a huge Shivling which is located under a Peepal tree. It is a saying that if a person takes a bath in the Ghat, he will become free of all the sins and curses.Mornings are majestical as  the air is filled with divine prayers,sounds of the conches,flickering flames.

Timings: Open 24 hours

Famous For: Ganga Aarti,recreational  activities

  • Subah-e-Banaras which is sacred Ganga Aarti is a morning aarti which includes vedic chants,music,yoga ,rising sun,golden ganges glittering Ghats which inspires devotees to chant mantras and meditate .
  • Boat ride in this ghat is a mesmerizing one .As one takes takes the boat ride along the ghats one can witness ancient architecture, devotees seeking blessings,sunrise,sunsets making the experience a surreal one.

3. Dashashwamedh Ghat

It is one of the liveliest Ghats in Varanasi. It derives it name from the story where Lord Brahma sacrificed ten horses to establish Varanasi a scared place in HinduismThe sky here  is filled with holy smoke of incensic sticks,the priests are chanting mantras ,blowing conch shells,lamps lit gloriously and devotees swarming from all across the globe .

Timings: Open 24 hours

Famous For: Rich architecture,heritage

  • Pilgrims bath in this ghat to get over their sins.
  • There are numerous beautiful temples around the ghat.
  • The boating ride here is an awesome experience.
  • Evening Ganga aarti at this ghat is a must watch spectacle.

4. Manikarnika Ghat

Manikarnika Ghat has been conferred the highest position among other Ghats. It is called burning ghat and It is a said that anyone who is cremated here attains moksha. Watching the bodies being cremated in this ghat is a sobering experience making one feel to live the life to the fullest.

Timings: Open 24 hours

Famous For: Holy Prayers, Bathing, Festivals

  • The cremation ceremonies in this ghat is a spiritual experience.
  • Boat rides in this ghat through which you will experience numerous beautiful temples,pilgrims bathing in the holy river ganges.

5. Sankat Mochan Mandir

The sankat mochan Mandir is a beautiful spiritual expedition in the city of Varanasi.The mandir was made by Tulsi Das the author of epic Ramcharitamanas who was ardent devotee of Lord Hanuman.Lord Hanuman is considered as Sankat Mochan which means one who relieves us of our troubles.Devotees goes to the temple to seek solace from their troubles and connect to divine. It is a place of bravery and triumph.

Timings: 8 am – 7 pm

Famous For: Hanuman mandir made by Tulsi Das

  • Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh is a holy festival held in April month of every year.Here people all across the globe come to perform music and dance and add to the beauty of the festival.
  • Hanuman Jayanti and Ram Jayanti – Both the festivals here are celebrated here with aplomb and magnificently.

6. Shri Satyanarayan Tulsi Manas Mandir

The all-white mandir is the place where the holy Ramcharitmanas was wriiten by Tulsi DasThe temple is full of god and goddesses mentioned in the Ramayana. The entire epic is written in inscribed letters upon the walls of the temple. There are also statues and scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Timings:  05:30 AM to 12:00 PM. 04:00 PM to 09:00 PM

Famous For: Historical ruins, Photography, Sightseeing

  • There is a lovely tulsi garden here which provides a serene and beautiful atmosphere.
  • Ram Navami:The ram Navami festival is celebrated with great spriritual enthusiasm and it concludes with submersion of Lord Rama.

7. Ramnagar Fort

Nestled in the beautiful city of Varanasi this fort is rich in culture ,heritage and spiritual fervour.It is an 18 th century sandstone fort which is situated by the Ganges river.The construction is a blend of hindu and Mughal architecture.The fort has spacious courtyard,chunar sandstone,great weaponry and area,vintage cars .It is said to be the ancestral home King of Varanasi.

Timings: 10 am – 05:30 pm

Famous For: Architecture, Vintage cars, Astronomical Clock

  • Museum-The museum also known as Saraswat Bhawan. The museum has vintage cars, gold and silver jewelleries and other adornments,palanquins,daggers,hookahs and other instruments belonging to the royal family.
  • Astronomical Clock This clock show the month ,week,day time and It shows the month, week, day, time and other planetary details .
  • Ved Vyasa Temple-It is located in the premises of Ramnagar fort.It is dedicated to Ved Vyasa who is the writer of epic Mahabharatha,.The golden Shiva linga here is very beautiful.
  • Raj Mangal Festival-The procession starts from Assi Ghat, people on the boats are seen dancing and singing and enjoying the spiritual atmosphere. This festival is celebrated around February and March every year.

8. Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum

The location of the museum is inside the Banaras Hindu University.It was established in 1920 by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.It has 1,00,000 artifacts and is a place of historical circuit.It has manuscripts,Mughal smoking pipes and coins , archaeological materials,relics and textile collection.

Timings: 8 am – 05 pm

Famous For: Rich History and Culture in Mughal times

  • Galleries- The Bhavan is divided into various galleries including Nidhi gallery(treasure gallery), sculpture gallery, archaeological gallery, Mahamana Malaviya gallery, Nicholas Roerich gallery, Chhavi (Painting Gallery), sculpture gallery, decorative art gallery and Banaras through ages gallery.
  • These galleries have paintings,crystal collections,collection of coins,precious stones,utilitarian objecys,masks and jewellery used during Ram Leela festival.

9. Banaras Hindu University

BHU is an ancient university in Varanasi. Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya founded the university had with help of Annie Besant had completed it in entirety and hence and the university was opened in 1919.

It has indo gothic architecture and home to many students. There are Indian temples, hospitals and museum built on the temple. Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya wanted the Hindus to achieve their aims and goals in life according to Hindu scriptures hence he built this university.

Timings: 10:30 am – 4:30 pm

Famous For: Teachings,Art,culture

  • Sayaji Rao Gaekwad library- Sayaji Rao Gaekwad library is the nodal centre of of total collection of 15 lakh books.It is in accordance to British Style museum. The manuscripts has been completely digitised in May 2010 .

10. Durga Temple

Durga temple was made by Bebgali Maharni who was a fervent follower of goddess Durga.It is located on the Sankat Mochan Road and is a home to devotees of Goddess Durga. The architecture is a typical north Indian nagara style.It is also known as the monkey temple.

Timings: 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Famous For: Heritage and architecture

  • Navratri festival: Huge number of pilgrims come here in navratris for holy prayers to Goddess Durga and fulfilment of wishes.It is a marvellous spectacle to see the temple in this time.
  • Durga Kund:There is a pond on the premises of temple which says is somewhat linked to Ganga River.It has great spiritual significance.The water here is considered as amrit because of which devotees bathe here.
  • Havan Kund:There is a havan kund in the temple where it is a ritual to perform havan daily

11. Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath

Dhamekh Stupa was made by Emperor Ashoka in the year 500 CE. It is the seat of holy buddha.It was here where buddha had delivered his first sermon after getting enlightenment.It is composed of red bricks and stones and is of diameter 28 metres and height 43.6 metres.

Timings: Any day from 6 in the morning to 6 in the evening.

Famous For: Gupta era architecture

  • Ashoka Pillar: This 50m long pillar is emperor Ashoka’s gift to Buddhism. Monks meditate around the compound, complex is full of greenery. There is also a small tank here which is called Ramkund.

12. Nepali Temple

This temple also known as mini Khajurao is dedicated to Lord Shiva.It is a replicate of Pashupatinath which is situated in Nepal. Since it is made by the King of Nepal the structure is in Nepalese style and is made by Kath which is an imported wood.

Timings: All Days 4.00 am to 7.30 pm

Famous For: Nepalese style architecture

  • Garbha Griha:In this temple which is surrounded by tamarind and peepal tree,this is the innermost sanctum. It has the Shiva Lingam called the Pashupatinath Mahadeva.

13. Bharath Mata Mandir

This mandir was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi as and is within the campus of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth. There is a map on the first floor which is in accordance with the colonial period. The five pillars here signify the elements of nature Earth, Wind, Fire, Sky and Water.It has a beautiful  marble Bharat Mata idol which symbolises India.

 Timings: All Days 9.00 am to 8.00 pm

Famous For: Promoting the idea of unity in diversity

  • ‘Shoor Mandir:It is located in second floor and is dedicated to freedom fighters and national heroes.
  • Sant Mandir: It is located in fourth floor and is dedicated to saints from different religious backgrounds.

14. Shree Kaal Bhairav Temple

Kashiyatra is incomplete if this temple is not visited.This deity is a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva.The Kaal Bhairava is called the Kotwal meaning one who protects the city and ensuring justice.The devotees offer liquor,flowers,mustard oil and coconuts.His vehicle is a dog so many dogs can be seen there.

Timings: 05:00 AM to 01:30 PM, 03:30 PM to 10:00 PM

Famous For: Fearsome Deity

  • Lord Shiva deity: It is believed that after visiting this temple all the worries are gone and the black thread given here saves people from any evil things. The inner sanctum of the temple houses a idol which is silver faced of Kaal Bhairava ,having a big moustache and rest of body is covered in cloth.

15. Sarnath Museum

It is the oldest museum in accordance with Archaeological Survey of India.It has 6,832 sculptures and artefacts. It was the initiative of Sir John Marshall, Director General of Archaeology in India, that this museum was created. The museum has five galleries and two verandahs which displays ruins  around 3rd century.It has a sculpture of Buddha from 5 th century.

Timings: Open all days except friday from 9 in the morning to 5 in the evening.

Famous For: heritage,culture, architecture

  • Lion Capital of Ashoka: It is sandstone sculpted Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath Museum, which was originally made around 250 BCE atop an Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath.  lion capital at Sarnath was adopted as the emblem of the Republic of India, and the lions symbolising pride,power ,courage and confidence.

How to get to Varanasi:

1. By Air

By The Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport (VNS) in Varanasi is well connected to the metro cities and many flights operate to and from fro from Varanasi

2. By Train

Varanasi Cantt Railway Station (BSB) is well connected to the cities and tickets can be booked online or through counters.

3. By Roads

It is accessible by roads through NH2 and NH7 and can be  visited by bus or private car

4. By Bus

Both government and private buses run to and fro to the city and it is widely connected to the towns and nearby cities.

5. By Boat

If you are travelling from nearby locations Allahabad then boat rides are awesome experience.

What time is the best to visit Varanasi:


It is the peak tourist destination because it is pleasant. The comfortable temperature makes the exploration of ghats,temples,boat rides a beautiful one.

Spring(March to April)

The city comes alive because of the holi festival and the temperature is still low considering the summers

Summer(May to June)

Summers are scorching hot and hinders explorations of places like forts,temples,boat rides and is only advisable to go if one is prepared to bare the heat.


Monsson is full of rain and floods so not a good time to go to Varanasi.

Festivals:It is a beautiful destination if you want to celebrate Diwali ,Ram Navami .

How much does a trip to Varanasi cost

Budget hotels are around as low as Rs.600 to Rs.1600 ,mid range hotels Rs.2500 to Rs.5000 and luxury hotels above 6000

Food is affordable.Chaats,samosa and street food cost between Rs.50 to Rs.200,midrange around Rs.400 to Rs.800.while upscale restaurants cost Rs.1200 or more.

Sightseeing activities

Sightseeing activities are very cheap ranging from Rs.20 to Rs.300.And boat rides are Rs.100-Rs.200per person. The historical sites,museums and temples may cost around Rs.20 to Rs.300 per person.Kashi Vishwanath Temple might have different fees for special puja offerings

Miscellaneous costs,shopping,and festival costs- Miscellaneous expenses includes local fare,internet,laundry costs.Shopping costs in in accordance to quality and design but one should bargain well .Accomadation and prices of all activities may have significant changes during festivals.

Travel Insurance: One should make travel insurance and visa fees wherever applicable.

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