What to do in Varanasi- Varanasi’s Ghats
Solo Travel to Varanasi, India || Varanasi Travel Blog || Varanasi Ghats || Ganga Arti, Varanasi|| River Banks of Varanasi|| Travel Plan for Varanasi/ Benaras|| Travelling Solo to India|| Things to see in Varanasi
Now, this is a very interesting topic of discussion.. a simple answer would be, depends on what you want to do..
You may keep exploring the number of old temples there are, all around the city; you may keep hopping from one shop/restaurant to the other to taste different kinds of local food.. or you may keep on shopping for Benarasi sarees or you may go for a combination of all..
I did a combination of the first 2. A bit of exploring the city and a bit of food tour. Food will be discussed in a separate post as there’s nothing called ‘done in few words’ when it comes to Varanasi. Get this very clearly.. Now list of Varanasi attractions.. ( I had split the list into two posts, here is post I on attractions of Varanasi)
What to see in Varanasi:
The Ghats of Varanasi:
- Even if you don’t want to do anything, there’s one thing you can’t miss, that is roaming across the ghats of Varanasi. What is ‘ghat’? It’s the landing stage made of bricks and stone as a concrete river bank. The ghats of Benaras are well stretched. Starting from Assi on one side to Manikarnika at the other end.. and a slow walk to this entire stretch takes about 1.5 hours at least.
- Now there are a few pros and cons.. between Assi and Manikarnika ghat, all other 82 ghats are situated, basically, all these ghats are well connected to each other and after every few meters or few steps at times, the ghats the changing names. Interesting isn’t it?
- But this long walk across the ghats is only possible during dry season when the water level is low. During monsoon season this will not be possible as the water level rises to a great height and at that time the ghats are blocked by deep water.
- Harishchandra and Manikarnika ghats are the burning ghats, you are not allowed to take pictures of the burning ghats.
- One more tip, if you want to walk around the ghats, then better make it very early in the morning or late afternoon when the sun is mellow, otherwise, you will finally know how it feels to get grilled inside convection mode!!
Evening Arti on the Ghats:
Varanasi is known for its evening arti on the river banks. Dasashwamedha ghat is the oldest of all known for the evening arti (the arti had started here years ago). Now saying this, this ghat is also very small and quite congested all the time, and during the arti time it’s tightly stuffed with people, if the water level is high and boats aren’t allowed to sail in the river, then tourists are allowed to sit on the boats and witness the arti from boats (even then it doesn’t help much though) (& this is possible with some cost of course), or else ‘help yourself’.
The evening arti starts at 7 in the evening, and it’s an hour-long programme every evening. All pundits doing the arti wear the same set of clothes and of same colour. Over the years it may have taken a little dramatic turn, but it’s all the worth.. you must not miss the evening arti.
Now, my favourite place for this occasion is Assi Ghat, the ghat is big and broad enough to accommodate many observers and you will somehow find a place for yourself to view the arti very clearly. I stayed near Assi, and it gave me good access to commute to the ghat regularly, I used to find a good place every time I went there & I could witness the whole arti really well.. cool right??
One tip again: if you want to see the Ganga Arti, you have to reach the ghats about an hour before to secure a place, Assi is still fine, but Dasashwanedha will be very difficult, people start gathering 2 hours before.
An early morning boat ride along the ghats is very popular in Varanasi, the boat rides start from 4- 5 am in the morning, it takes about 30-40 minutes to cover all the ghats (no matter whichever ghat you start from they cover all the ghats), and you may also witness a great sunrise. But I can’t share any photos with you.. I never made it for the early morning boat ride.. Such a bed laden I am..
But the same boat rides are also available in the evening, and they are good, breezy and cool and nice.. The boat ride may cost from 200-400 per person on a shared boat, depending on the time, season and demand.
One can also witness the arti of all ghats by boat, in that case, you have to hire a boat for yourself and family. It may cost about 3000-5000 per boat.
The ghats of Varanasi are not a one-day matter if you ask me.. I loved going there almost every day, I used to go walk across the ghats, take pictures here and there, see people, their activities, boatmen, a couple of them became known to me!! And it was really beautiful. But of course, it’s up to you, what interests you more, still, I will say give time to ghats of Varanasi, they will give you a different story to everyone..
That was all about the ghats of Varanasi. But there’s more.. many more things to see in this city.. wait for the next post.. if you have any questions, do drop in a message.