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Varanasi – Visiting Indias Oldest City On The Sacred Ganges River

Varanasi is one of the most sacred places in India for Hindus as it is located on the Ganges River.

I visited the city 2 times during my different trips backpacking around India and it’s still one of the most full-on ‘Indian Experiences’ in the whole country.

The first time was in 2001 when I came down from Kathmandu in Nepal straight to Varanasi. At that time it was my first city in India to visit and my first Indian encounter.

It blew me away.


varanasia in india

Holy Cow.

Yeah, holy cow.

I’m sure you’re aware that cows are sacred in India under Hinduism and with Varanasi being one of the most sacred cities in India for Hindus they are everywhere. Another one of the facts about India is that the Ganges River is the most sacred river in India.

You will see cows everywhere!

varanasi india
Varanasi cow
cow india
Varanasi city

Varanasi Ghats

Down by the Varanasi ghats is where you will see people bathing in the sacred waters of the Ganges River.

Varanasi india
varanasi Ganges river

Sadhus (holy men) down on the ghats.

Varanasi holy men sadhus

A view across some of Varanasi ghats. onto the Ganges River.

Ganges river
Ganges river burial

The Varanasi burning ghats is where Hindus bring recently deceased people to be burned on wooden pyres and then having the ashes spread into the Ganges River.

I didn’t take any photos of the actual fires burning the bodies out of respect.

Part of the burning ghats with wood stacked up for the fires.

Ganges rivier burial Varanasi

Taking a boat ride onto the Ganges is popular for Indians and tourists alike.

But be aware that one reason for boats going onto the Ganges is to bury young children in the sacred Ganges River waters.

Ganges river burial

Candles put out onto the river at night.

Ganges river at night
Ganges river at night

At nighttime on the ghats there is the Varanasi night light show called the pooja ceremony.

It’s a show put on by Brahmans for the Ganges River and Lord Shiva.

Go at 6pm every night to see it.

Varanasi light show
Varanasi night show
varanasi at night

The narrow alleys in parts of the city are great to experience at night and you can find small eateries to have dinner, although no high end restaurants.

Varanasi food
holy cow india

Like many cities in India you will see monkeys scrambling over the buildings.

monkeys india city


holy cows india

Hindu temple.

hindu temple varanasi

Travel To Varanasi

Varanasi is one of those ‘must experience cities’ if visiting India.

You can find places to stay in Varanasi here.

I recommend using SafetyWing Travel Insurance for your trip, just in case, it’s best to be prepared.

For more reading on India take a look on my post about visiting Bodh Gaya which is not far from Varanasi.

And a post about travelling across India from north to south.

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