local guide Mayur Jaiswal
Favorite thing: Mayur is not a registered guide, he is studying to become a Chartered Accountant and does guiding part-time to pay for his studies. He has lived in Varanasi for all his life and is one of the best tour guides we had in India. I would highly recommend him and you can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org. He works on tips only, but shows you everything you ask for.
Favorite thing: Scampering over rooftops and frequently loitering on hotel balconies, these macaque monkeys look quite cute, but have a bit of a reputation for making a nuisance of themselves - perpetrating random acts of vandalism and occasionally getting vicious. Worth watching out for, in more ways than one!
- Budget Travel
Favorite thing: The domestic water buffalo, prevalent almost everywhere in India, are omnipresent on the less populated ghats along the Ganges. Used for draft, dairy, and (at the end of their working lives) meat, their dung is also used for fuel.
During the heat of the day, you'll often spot the buff cooling off in the river water, and at night you'll probably bump into them wandering around the ghats!
- Budget Travel
Favorite thing: My favorite thing about Varanasi, is that there is just not another place like it!! One minute u love it, and the next thing u hate it!!! It is so spiritual, and there are so many unusual things happening everywhere that u actually feel like u had the most amazing experience and the memories will never fade!!
Fondest memory: I just loved sitting on the Ghats and watching the boats and the people....and in the evening, gazing at the Ganges from our river view room and it is all lit up from people putting candles in the water...
And wondering down the narrow streets, and watching the children play and dodging the cows that are hoarding the streets!
Taking the rickshaw through the chaotic streets and just sitting back and taking it all in...
The sounds, the smells, the sites are like nothing i have ever seen!!
- Religious Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Study Abroad
Places nearby worth a visit
Favorite thing: The places very near to Varanasi that one can also visit are:
Sarnath (10 kms), the holy land where the Budhha preached Buddhism,
Ramnagar (14 Kms), where one finds the Ramnagar fort, the palace of the King with an exquisite museum
Chunar (40 kms), where one finds the Chunar fort, house of Mughal rulers for many generations
Vidhyachal (80 kms), with one of the Shaktipeeths
Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary (70 kms)
Allahabad (135 kms), the confluence of the three rivers, Ganga, Jamuna & Saraswati (popularly called the Tribeni Sangam)
Some Hindi words for help
Favorite thing: So here's some Hindi words commonly used that might make your travel to Varanasi simpler:
Water (Paani), Food (Khana), Lane (Gali), Road (Rasta), House (Ghar), The Ganges (Ganga), Money (Rupiya), How much? (Kitna?), Where? (Kidhar?), How? (Kaise?), Why? (Kiu?), Who? (Kaun?), When? (Kab?), Price (Kimat), Cloth (Kapra), Tea (Chai), Yes (Ha), No (Nehi), Very good (Bohot Achcha), Bad (Kharab), My name is ... (Mera naam ... hai), What is your name? (Tumhara naam kya hai?)
Thank you (Dhanyabad)
Favorite thing: Saw these guys repairing this boat using just hand tools. Reminded me seeing similar repairs being carried out using hand tools on Dhow boats in Dubai. The photo also shows how bad the pollution is in the Ganges as the edge of the water is green!
Favorite thing: I arrived at the ghats at dawn when the sun was just beginning to climb. It first glowed a dark red before turning pink, then orange and then yellow. The sun bathes the ghats with these different colours as they all face the sun at sunrise. So don't forget to have one eye on the sun whilst taking pictures of all the goings-on on the ghats.
Favorite thing: Varanasi claims to be one of the oldest living cities on earth - “older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together”, as per Mark Twain.
In a more realistic approach, its history dates back to 1400 BC, but Varanasi became a centre of pilgrimage for the adepts of Shiva after the reform of the Hinduism around the 8th century
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
The Ganga pollution
Favorite thing: Along the same 7km river banks in Varanasi where 60.000 people perform daily their sacred and secular activities, 30 large sewers are continuously discharging into the river.
Hence, the river is so heavily polluted that the water is septic – no dissolved oxygen exists.
And the problem gets worse every year, despite efforts made by the authorities. To quote an example from the LP 2005 edition, faecal coliform bacteria per 100ml water exceed the safe ceiling by 30 times (1,5 million bacteria agains 0,5 million safe ceiling).
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
The Great Mother
Favorite thing: There’re almost hal a billion Indians residing on the shores of the Ganga (aka the Ganges river, or Great Mother) providing them with an important link to their spirituality. Every day 60.000 people go down to the Varanasi ghats to take a holy dip along the 7km stretch of the river, to wash their clothes, to play in the water, to feed the animals, to die or to cremate their deads in hope of liberation from the cycle of births and deaths.
Can there be a happier Hindu than the one who resides on the banks of the Ganga?
Varanasi ....an enigmatic city
Favorite thing: Favourite thing about varanasi is the interplay of ghats as public spaces and the river ganga offcourse. i stayed for a week in varanasi, still it seems so insufficient. i feel to know the city even a month is not enough. i am an architect and travelled alone to varanasi. Its a safe city if one is careful and confident. i resided at Sahi River View Guesthouse. Its situated on Assi ghat facing the river ganges. i would recommend this guesthouse to any single female travelling to varanasi. Its a homely feeling at Sahi and its very helpful & geuine. thus one feels safe ans secure.
I will be back to varanasi for real detailed photography.
Locally Around My Hotel
Favorite thing: Around where my hotel was located was fairly run down although I came to realise that this was normal for Varanasi. I was a little concerned wandering around on my own but I didn’t venture too far from the hotel. Rickshaw drivers wanted to take me sightseeing but I only wanted to walk. Shop owners tried to entice me into their stores. I went into one, the lights and air conditioners were turned off but the moment I walked in, everyone leapt to attention and everything was switched on. I was taken up stairs and had a brief moment of wondering if I was doing the right thing. With little time to spent, I was quickly shown a variety of silk goods. As in another couple of stores I was later to go into, I was quizzed as to how many were in my group and asked to bring them back to visit. The shops all seemed to be open until 8.30pm or even 10.00pm in some cases.
Watch where u step
Fondest memory: The cows are considered the most sacred animal for the Hindus, and this is most obvious in Varanasi, where the holy river Ganges is located..
Cows are everywhere, be in on the road, in the water of Ganges, outside your guesthouses/hotels/dorms etc, even peeping into the restaurants while you're having your meal..
Where there is a cow, there's bound to be some 'leftoevers'.. hehe which is pretty obvious the moment you step foot into the holy land..... the distinctive scent followed by residues on the sole of your shoes...
Street scene (aerial view)
Favorite thing: Here you can look at the road of Varanasi, this road is not the small ghat alleys, this one is the big main road. It was this road along the ghats, in each of the small alleys, you can walk in to search for the river, but be careful, not easy and sometimes you will not find the way.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip