What to expect when travelling to Varanasi

April 5, 2024
Dog resting in the ghats of Varanasi.

Varanasi is one of the oldest and holiest cities in India.

Where is Varanasi?

Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges River in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is steeped in history, spirituality, and cultural significance. Here are some key aspects to expect when visiting Varanasi:

Describe the Spiritual Atmosphere?

Varanasi is renowned for its spiritual ambiance, with temples, shrines, and ghats. Usually, lining the banks of the Ganges River. Expect to witness devout pilgrims performing rituals, prayers, and bathing ceremonies along the ghats.  As a westerner, it was fascinating but also very special to watch. Firstly, many people from all parts of India come here to pray. Burn their dead on the pyres and spread their ashes into the Almighty Ganges.

Woman sitting on the brightly colourful ghat

What are the Ghats?

The ghats of Varanasi are the heart and soul of the city. Expect to explore the numerous ghats, each with its own significance and rituals. You’ll witness the daily Ganga Aarti ceremony at Dashashwamedh Ghat. Without a doubt, take a few boat rides along the Ganges to see the city from a different perspective. Or simply walk along the edge of the Ganges and observe the people.  Simply taking in the bustling activity along the riverbanks.

What Ancient Temples and Historical Sites do you find in Varanasi?

Varanasi is home to numerous ancient temples, including the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, and Tulsi Manas Temple. Expect to explore these sacred sites, learn about their legends and mythology, and witness the intricate architecture and religious practices. Wear comfortable closed shoes, the pavements are uneven, and you will walk for kilometres.

Describing the Varanasi Cultural Richness

This city is steeped in cultural heritage. With a vibrant arts scene, classical music performances, and traditional crafts such as silk weaving. Get ready to immerse yourself in the city’s cultural richness by exploring its narrow alleys filled with markets, shops, and eateries, and interacting with locals who embody the essence of Varanasi’s heritage.

What is the Street Food like in Varanasi?

Varanasi is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide array of street food and culinary delights. Expect to sample local specialties such as chaat, kachori, lassi, and sweets like jalebi and Rabri. The city’s bustling streets and markets are filled with vendors serving up delicious treats that will tantalize your taste buds.

Are there Crowds?

This city can be chaotic and overwhelming.  I made sure to make it my last stop!  Just so I could be ready for the insult on your senses.  Thier are pros and cons to that too. After, exploring Rajasthan for 2 weeks solid.  It was exhausting.   You’ll come across crowded streets, noisy markets, and a sensory overload of sights, sounds, and smells.

What does being respectful in Varanasi like? 

When travelling to any country with a different religion to yours, it is your responsibility to respect its traditions.  Therefore, it’s important to dress modestly and respect local customs and traditions. Remember to always cover your shoulders and knees when visiting temples. And the ghats. Be mindful of local sensitivities regarding photography and public displays of affection. Often, I found it better to just put down my camera and observe.

Burning Pyres of Varanasi

Lastly, in my experience, traveling to Varanasi offers you a profound journey into the heart of India’s spiritual and cultural heritage.  It’s really very special.

Surprisingly the longer you stay the more everything makes sense.

I long to return, this time spending as much time as I can.  With my tripod, hitting the golden hours. It’s a very spiritual experience, in the absolute chaos of it all. I find much peace. And prayer.

What to expect when travelling in Varanasi


  • Food Explora Blog-Kevin Foodie
    April 7, 2024

    Varanasi looks like an interesting place to visit. The Food Explora in me would love to explore the food culture. The street food sounds enticing. Thanks for sharing.

  • Food Explora Blog-Kevin Foodie
    April 7, 2024

    Varanasi looks like an interesting place to visit. The Food Explora in me would love to explore the food culture. The street food sounds enticing. Thanks for sharing, Lauren.

    • WildFlower
      April 8, 2024

      Oh, Kevin the food is absolutely delicious! If you like spice!

  • Carolyn | The Organic Gypsy
    April 8, 2024

    I love their colourful attire and their culture. So beautiful. And spice! Yes please. Thanks for sharing and showing me the beautiful world we live in. 🙂

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