5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable

Planning a trip to Banaras? Brace yourself for an unforgettable journey filled with rich history, spiritual experiences, and architectural wonders. Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges River, Banaras, also known as Varanasi, is one of the oldest cities in the world and holds immense cultural significance for Hindus. In this guide, we’ll explore five must-see attractions that make Banaras tourism truly unforgettable.

5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable

Aspects that make Banaras Tourism Special

Situated on the banks of the Ganga, Varanasi is known for its numerous ghats. A rich diversity of history, religion, culture, folklore, customs, tradition, food, etc. is seen on the ghat here. If you take a leisurely visit, you can understand all these aspects in detail!

Famous American writer Mark Twain said, “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and it looks twice as old as all of them put together.”

The statement may seem a bit exaggerated, but once you visit Varanasi and spend a few days there exploring the various ghats of the Ganges, you will feel like you have stepped back in history many years ago. It is possible that Mark Twain’s statement is more or less true. Varanasi is a must visit place for street photography photographers. It is fun to travel and photograph in Varanasi for twelve months, but the glow of Dev Diwali in Varanasi here is pure.

1. The Ghats: Where Spirituality Meets Serenity

No visit to Banaras is complete without experiencing the tranquil ambiance of its ghats. These riverfront steps, stretching along the Ganges, are integral to the city’s spiritual and social life. Witness mesmerizing rituals like the Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat, where priests perform prayers to the river goddess every evening, accompanied by chanting and the rhythmic ringing of bells.

Special Preparation in Dev Divali
5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable

Before 3 days of Dev Diwali, all the ghats on the banks of the Ganga start to be cleaned. No one is allowed to enter the ghat during this cleanliness drive. On the evening of Dev Diwali, all the ghats are lit up with the light of lakhs of lamps. More fun to watch these lights comes from boating in the Ganges.

Lamps are visible as far as the eye can see. It seems as if some supernatural power has mixed with the coolness of the atmosphere. The celebration of Dev Diwali goes on from dusk till night, and then a grand display of fireworks takes place late at night! One of the most worth experiencing is Dev Diwali in Ganga Aarti at Dasashwamegh Ghat in Varanasi.5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable

Varanasi (Banaras) has been a center of Hindu culture and mythology for centuries, at the confluence of the Ganga, Varuna, and Ashi rivers. According to historians, Varanasi is an ancient city dating back 3000 years. Years ago, its name was Kashi. Over time, Varanasi was destroyed and then destroyed under Urdu influence.

Today, Varanasi has also grown as a major educational and professional center in Uttar Pradesh. It has been attracting tourists, intellectuals, thinkers, and artists for centuries. It is home to Pandit Madanmohan Malviya‘s Banaras Hindu University, IITs, and other high-level educational institutions. On the other hand, there is a booming business in the famous Banarasi sarees, silks, and perfumes.

Magnificent Ghats and the winding lanes of the Ghats
5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable
Lalita Ghat in Banaras

The city of Varanasi, located in the south-east of the state of Uttar Pradesh, is the epitome of the cities of Indian civilization spread along the banks of the Ganges River. Here on the eastern side of the north-south flowing Ganges. Varanasi, and on the western side is Ramnagar. All the ghats have their own charms. As such, Ramnagar is known for the Ramlila traditionally performed there, which lasts for a whole month.

The identity of Varanasi is the ghats (88 in all) along the banks of the 8–10 km long stream of the Ganges. The centuries-old ghat was renovated during the 18th century, when Varanasi was part of the Maratha Empire. Ghats like Ahilyabai Ghat, Scindia Ghat, Bhonsle Ghat, etc. are owned by royal families or eminent persons who built or renovated them.

There are some paths that reflect South Indian art and culture, such as the pagoda-shaped Lord Vishnu and Pashupati temples found in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, at places like Lalita Ghat.

Eternal Fire at Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat
5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable

If one has studied Shivapurana, Skandapurana, and other ancient Hindu literature a little, the thrill of knowing in depth about a ghat like Manikarnika is something different. The two famous Manikarnika and Harishchandra crematoriums can in fact be called Hindu riverside crematoriums, where many pyres are kept burning day and night. Any kind of photography or videography is strictly prohibited here, but one can ‘watch’ the activities on this ghat by sitting in a boat in front of the pier. In Hinduism, the death of Kashi (Varanasi/Banaras) is considered the best, as it is said that the person who attains death here attains moksha. Motivated by this religious sentiment, every year thousands of old age people come to Varanasi to spend their last days. Lives here in Dharamshalas, known as ‘Muktidham’ – awaiting death and then salvation! Death is very common in Varanasi.5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable

The situation at Manikarnika Ghat is surprising for first time visitors. Flames of burning pyres, wood turning into ashes with a crackling sound, smoky air smelling strongly of half-burnt corpses, one after the other, funerals, scars, rituals, etc. are the highlights of Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghat. If you want to understand the ephemerality of life and its falsity, pass the Manikarnika Ghat on foot, not in a boat.

A narrow street passes right next to this ghat. If you walk here, you will find a number of shops on both sides selling everything from cremation wood to rituals, and a little further on, you will come to the famous ‘Blue Lassi’ shop, where you can find at least 100 types of amazing lassi. A distance of 500 meters between material, physical comforts and the falsity of a mortal body—such contradictions can be seen in Varanasi!

Dashashwamegh ghat
5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable
Dashashwamegh ghat Banaras

The famous Dashashwamegh Ghat is just a short distance away from Vishwanath Mahadev Temple. According to folklore, Lord Brahma sacrificed 10 horses here during the Ashvamegha Yagna. The most famous, major, and busiest ghat in Varanasi is Dashashwamegh. There are beautiful Ganga artis at Har Ki Paudi in Haridwar and Paramartha Ashram in Rishikesh, but the grandeur of the Ganga-arti every evening on Dashashwamegha is something different. Hence, a huge number of people come to see and enjoy it. It starts with a slow bhajan, and then slowly the choir starts picking up pace. In no time, the atmosphere became so ethereal that it was overwhelming.

After having a memorable experience at Dashashwamegh Ghat, some more ghats of Varanasi, like Ahilyabai Ghat, Munshi Ghat, Darbhanga Ghat, Ranamhel Ghat, etc., can be visited with time. As there are different temples on each ghat, each one has a different atmosphere. Even if you sit on one of these ghats facing the Ganges for half an hour in the evening without giving attention to anything else, you will feel a strong mental peace.

From every ghat in Varanasi, there are narrow streets leading up to the town. Each is so narrow that no vehicle except a two-wheeler could pass through it. The surrounding tall buildings block the light, so even during the day, the streets can feel quite dark.

2. Kashi Vishwanath Temple: A Spiritual Haven

5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the epitome of divine splendor and architectural brilliance. As one of the holiest Hindu temples, it attracts devotees from far and wide. Marvel at the intricate designs adorning the temple walls and feel a sense of peace enveloping you as you offer prayers in this sacred abode.

Walk further, half a kilometer on the same street of Dashashwamegh Ghat,  to the world famous Kashi Vishwanath Mahadev Temple, which is one of the twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. This ancient temple is not on the ghat, but in the middle of very narrow streets. A mobile app has been developed for the visitors, keeping in mind the space and the crowd. The darshan time can be booked through the app itself and the entry to the temple can be done only on the basis of the booking ticket. After the terrorist bomb blast near the Kashi Vishwanath Mahadev temple eight years ago, security has been made very tight. Aarti performed in this temple is not to be missed. All the aartis during the day are wonderful, but the Mangala aarti is an ethereal experience. The privilege of self anointing by going inside the sanctum can be found in a Mangala Aarti in the early morning.

3. Sarnath: Unraveling Buddhist Heritage

5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable
Sarnath Banaras

Just a short distance from Banaras lies Sarnath, where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the Deer Park, where the teachings of Buddhism echo through the ages. Explore the Dhamek Stupa, a monumental structure marking the spot where Buddha preached the path to enlightenment.

4. Banaras Hindu University: A Hub of Learning and Culture

Step into the sprawling campus of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and discover a world where tradition meets modernity. Founded by the visionary nationalist Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, BHU is not just an educational institution but a melting pot of diverse cultures and ideologies. Take a leisurely stroll through its lush greenery and architectural marvels, including the iconic Vishwanath Temple within the campus.

5. Ramnagar Fort: A Glimpse Into Royalty

Transport yourself back in time with a visit to Ramnagar Fort, located on the eastern bank of the Ganges. Built in the 18th century by the kings of Banaras, this fort is a testament to the grandeur of bygone eras. Explore its intricately designed courtyards, museums showcasing royal artifacts, and the iconic clock tower that stands as a silent witness to history.

Vivid Sun Rise and Sun Sat5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable

The best way to enjoy the city of Varanasi is on foot, but pedal rickshaws and boat rides are also enjoyable. A boat is the best way to see the various views of the ghats lined up one after the other. If you want to see the ghat from Manikarnika to Assi by sitting in a boat, the price is between 200 and 1000 rupees. Now the cruise service called ‘Alaknanda’ has also started, but apart from the fun of the traditional boat with the hulls, if you have gone to Varanasi in winter, the morning fog and the migratory birds make the boating experience very special.

Varanasi: Embracing the Golden Glow of Dusk and Dawn5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable

Evening time is inviting in Varanasi. In the foreground of the golden colors of the sky, the beauty of the Ghats glowing with light is breathtaking. But its greater beauty is to be seen in the early morning when the sun’s rays slowly begin to cast a golden hue on the ghat. Evening aarti is performed at Dashashwamegh ghat, then one has to go to Assi ghat to enjoy morning aarti. This ghat is recently renovated and is relatively cleaner than other ghats. Due to its distance from other ghats, the number of tourists coming here is less. A program called ‘Subah-e-Banaras’ is held here every day during sunrise. If you want to enjoy this program, you should arrive late by 4:30 pm. Climbing the steps of Assi Ghat and walking through the narrow streets towards the city, there is no shortage of small hotels, guest houses, restaurants, cafes etc. on the way. Banaras’s famous chaat, panipuri, sweets, and paan are not to be missed here.

Banaras: A Tapestry of Timeless Tales and Eternal Charms

5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable
Ganga Aarti

Here, each ghat has its own identity. It has its own story and its own mood. While wandering through the narrow streets every day with a camera around my neck, seeing ancient monks, children studying in Sanskrit schools, wrestling arenas, food and drink markets, shops, inns, etc., Varanasi seemed to be passing through thousands of years of ancient history. This city leaves a deep impression on one’s mind. It is the magic of Varanasi that constantly draws the visitor towards it. Enchanted by this magic, Mark Twain may have noticed that Banaras, that is, Varanasi, is older than history, older than traditions, and older than legends, and even if you combine the three—history, tradition, and legend—Varanasi seems to be twice as old.


In conclusion, Banaras tourism offers a kaleidoscope of experiences that leave an indelible mark on every traveler’s soul. Whether you seek spiritual enlightenment, cultural immersion, or architectural marvels, the city of Banaras beckons with open arms, ready to unravel its mysteries and enchantments. Embark on a journey of discovery and let the timeless allure of Banaras weave its magic upon you.

Good to Know for Perfect Trip…

Due to its geographical distance from Mumbai Gujarat, varanasi (banaras) has not figured prominently in the travel list. Ahmedabad to Varanasi train takes around 2 days, but now flight is a good option. SpiceJet’s recently launched Ahmedabad-Varanasi flight reaches Varanasi in just two hours. Some flights also go to Varanasi via Delhi. Varanasi railway station is in the city, while the airport is about an hour far from the city.

Modes of transportation:

5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable
Ramnagar Fort Banaras

Air: Varanasi has its own airport, Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport (VNS), which is located approximately 25 kilometers northwest of the city center. The airport operates domestic flights to and from major cities in India, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Hyderabad, among others. Travelers can easily reach Varanasi by air from different parts of the country.

Train: Varanasi Junction Railway Station (BSB) is one of the busiest railway stations in North India and is well-connected to major cities across the country. It is served by several long-distance trains, as well as local and regional trains. Varanasi is on the main railway line connecting Delhi to Kolkata, making it easily accessible by train from various parts of India.

Road: Varanasi is connected to other parts of the country by a network of national highways and state highways. Several state-run and private buses operate regular services to and from Varanasi to cities such as Delhi, Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur, Agra, and Jaipur, among others. The city also has well-maintained roads, and travelers can opt for taxis, private cabs, or self-drive cars to reach Varanasi by road.

5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable
Munshi Ghat at Banaras

Waterways: Varanasi is situated on the banks of the River Ganges and is accessible by waterways. While there are limited passenger ferry services, especially for tourists, traveling by boat along the Ganges can be a memorable experience. However, water transport primarily caters to local commuting and sightseeing rather than long-distance travel to and from other parts of the country.


From very cheap guest houses, inns, and homestays to luxurious hotels, everything is available here. Alighting at Dasashwamegh Ghat or on the streets around it can save travel time, reduce fatigue, and cover more places.

In Varanasi, also known as Banaras, there is a wide range of accommodation options catering to various budgets and preferences. Here are some of the types of accommodations available in the city:

Hotels: Varanasi has numerous hotels ranging from budget to luxury options. These hotels offer various amenities such as comfortable rooms, restaurants, Wi-Fi, and sometimes even spa facilities. Many hotels are located near the ghats or in the vicinity of the city’s major attractions.

5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable

Guesthouses and Hostels: For budget travelers, guesthouses and hostels are popular choices. These accommodations offer affordable rates and often provide basic amenities such as dormitory-style beds or private rooms, shared bathrooms, and common areas where guests can socialize.

Homestays: Staying in a homestay allows visitors to experience the local culture and hospitality firsthand. Many families in Varanasi offer rooms or portions of their homes for travelers to stay. This option provides a more intimate and authentic experience of life in Varanasi.5 Must-See Attractions That Make Banaras Tourism Unforgettable

Ashrams: Some travelers opt to stay in ashrams for a spiritual experience. Ashrams provide simple accommodations along with opportunities for yoga, meditation, and spiritual teachings. Visitors seeking a peaceful and reflective environment may find ashrams to be suitable places to stay.

Online Platforms: Various online booking platforms like Booking.com, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor offer a wide selection of accommodations in Varanasi. Travelers can browse through these platforms to find accommodations that suit their preferences and budget.

  • The ideal time to visit Varanasi is from October to March. Dev-Diwali here is spectacular, after December, the atmosphere becomes very foggy.
  • If you want to have a traditional food of Varanasi, go to the area around the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The area known as the ‘chowk’ is a popular hub for eating and shopping. ■

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1 Comment

  1. As a person from Banaras i can totally agree that u really showed the true essence of Banaras in a very charming manner with your captivating writing skills

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