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You're ready to set a course in a different direction. Constantly in search of a brand new feat and unique ways to get inspired, you're eager to investigate an exciting destination like the savvy traveller you are. Coming up: Varanasi! It's not challenging to fill your time, because Expedia makes it simple to book lots of things to do. Book your activities today, and all you'll have left to do is pack your bags and start daydreaming.
It takes an expert itinerary to fully explore Varanasi, particularly when you intend to include a lot of exciting activities. And we know you don't want to hunker down in your hotel room遥ou're excited to get out and see what life is like for locals. You're thrilled to sign up for the best activities around, and a quiet day exploring local neighbourhoods is an adventure all its own. Our activities are the ideal way to organise your holiday. Book professional area tours on Expedia, and leave your map behind.
Varanasi stirs the soul. Lying along the western bank of the mighty Ganges, this is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and still the centrepiece of modern Indian cultural and religious life. Buddhism and Sikhism are thought to have their origins in Varanasi, and there are some 23,000 temples here, many of them dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu, as well as the famous ghats where pilgrims come to perform deeply personal ritual ablutions in the river waters - Hindus believe that to die here is to reach nirvana. Rarely will you visit a place so full of colour and life.
Old City - 4,000 years of city life has created a labyrinthine, and sometimes quite literally impenetrable, warren of alleys and narrow streets that are mainly accessible only on foot. Here the clamour and colour of the city is at its height: painted cows, traders, daredevil motorcycle riders, barrows, unofficial guides, schoolchildren, pilgrims and the occasional funeral procession will all keep you on your toes. You cant help but be fascinated and a little bewildered but that is all part of the riot of experiences that the city throws at you. Catch them and run with them!
Dasaswamedh Ghat - the busiest ghat in Varanasi is where many come for a massage during the day, but most tourists come for the evening prayer ceremony. Accompanied by the sounds of clashing cymbals and banging drums, incense fills the air as crowds of worshippers set tealights afloat in the Ganges, or just chat with their neighbours over a cup of chai.
Sarnath - the deer park in Sarnath, just outside Varanasi, is where Buddha first taught his Dharma and four noble truths: this is one of Buddhism’s holiest pilgrimage sites. Several countries have established monasteries and temples here offering plenty of tranquil spots for reflection.
Assi Ghat - Varanasi’s southernmost ghat has plenty of good restaurants, and a welcoming multicultural vibe, because foreigners living in the city tend to settle in this area. While it’s not particularly hectic day to day, during festivals thousands of people will pass through the ghat every hour.
One doesn’t so much go sightseeing in Varanasi as allow the city to come to you. Spending time here is all about immersing yourself in the vivid spectacle of life and death: it is not at all uncommon to see pilgrims carrying out their devotions in the river while corpses float by a few feet away. Up to 60,000 people visit every day to cleanse themselves in the Ganges, but given the hygiene levels of the water, only the most brave or foolhardy of tourists would dare to take a dip. The experience of the ghats can be intensely unsettling or uplifting - often it can be both at the same time.
Most of the action, as you would expect, is centred on the river. You can take a guided walking tour along the banks of the Ganges to learn about its history and to understand the many uses people have for it from religious ceremonies to doing the laundry. Alternatively, take a memorable sunrise boat tour, to watch the faithful at prayer. In some ghats you are also welcome to join in the ceremonies with the help of a private guide, but do be careful about where and when you take photographs as funerals and devotions are intensely private moments.