Situated on the banks of the Ganges River is one of the oldest cities in the world, a sacred place for Hindus, filled with temples and holy sites.

For thousands of years, people have worshipped on the shores of the River Ganges at Varanasi. The ancient city is of great spiritual importance to Hindus because, according to legend, Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati stood here at the beginning of time. It is an exciting place of temples, shrines and rituals on the western banks of the river.

A good way to understand the importance of the river to Hindus is to take a boat ride along the waterfront to see the ghats. These are the long stone steps that lead from the city's alleys down to the river. At any time you may see people praying, bathing and washing their clothes. Weddings, funerals and cremations are also conducted on the banks of the river.

In the evening, go to Dasaswamedh Ghat to see the nightly ritual where thousands of lamps float across the water. The ghat is close to the 18th-century Kasha Vishwanath Temple and to the Jantar Mantar Observatory. Tour the 18th-century science base and see instruments that once recorded the motion of stars. The observatory is on the roof of the palace of Man Mahal.

Varanasi has temples at just about every turn. As a general rule, non-Hindus are not permitted inside Hindu temples, but do visit some of the sanctuaries to appreciate their architecture. The white marble Tulsi Manas Temple is open to everyone. Step inside to see walls decorated with images from Hindu legends.

While Hinduism is the main religion in India, Varanasi is also sacred to Buddhists. Visit the small village of Sarnath, just outside the city, where Buddha first preached his message of peace. See ancient holy structures, such as the Dhamekh Stupa, which dates back to the 5th century.

Being a place of religious significance to many Indians, Varanasi is well connected to many parts of the country by road, rail and air. Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport is the nearest international airport, just 11 miles (18 kilometers) away.

When you see the temples and rituals along the waterfront, you'll understand why Varanasi is so special to many Indians.

Where to stay in Varanasi

Varanasi Nagar Nigam
Varanasi Nagar Nigam, Varanasi, India
trover photo by AdventureJ

Varanasi Nagar Nigam

When in Varanasi Nagar Nigam, you can plan a visit to JVH Mall and Kashi Vishwanath Temple, some noteworthy sights in the nearby area.

Sigra
Sigra, Varanasi, India
trover photo by Sarah Hallett

Sigra

When in Sigra, you can plan a visit to Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Dasaswamedh ghat, some noteworthy sights in the nearby area.

Top hotels in Varanasi

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Taj Ganges, Varanasi
Taj Ganges, Varanasi
5 out of 5
Nadesar Palace Grounds, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Rs8,500
per night
2 Dec-3 Dec

Located in the heart of Varanasi, this luxury hotel is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) from JVH Mall and within 3 miles (5 km) of Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Dasaswamedh ghat. ...

4.1/5Very Good! (208 reviews)

"Phenomenal service staff. Very welcoming & safe. Beautiful hotel."…"

Reviewed on 23 Oct 2019

Taj Ganges, Varanasi
Ramada Plaza by Wyndham JHV Varanasi
Ramada Plaza by Wyndham JHV Varanasi
5 out of 5
The Mall, Cantonment, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Rs6,999
per night
2 Dec-3 Dec

Situated in the historical district, this luxury hotel is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from JVH Mall and 2.2 mi (3.5 km) from Bharat Mata. Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Dasaswamedh ...

3.7/5Good! (178 reviews)

"It’s a very comfortable nice and clean hotel, very convenient walking distance to the mall which made since better since the hotel don’t have as many international food alternatives . It seems like is more catear to the locals. Beautiful pool area and gym ."…"

Reviewed on 13 Sep 2019

Ramada Plaza by Wyndham JHV Varanasi
BrijRama Palace - A Heritage Hotel
BrijRama Palace - A Heritage Hotel
4 out of 5
Munshi Ghat, Near Dashaswamedh, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Rs33,000
per night
19 Nov-20 Nov

Situated in the historical district, this spa hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Dasaswamedh ghat and Hanuman Ghat. Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Asi Ghat are ...

4.6/5Wonderful! (88 reviews)

"What a fabulous place to stay in Varanasi. My only complaint would be that I wish the history and transformation of this incredible hotel were showcased more prominently. Food was excellent, service was flawless and all the additional amenities were well worth checking out from the spa to the rooftop ..."…"

Reviewed on 8 Nov 2019

BrijRama Palace - A Heritage Hotel

Popular things to do in Varanasi

Banaras Hindu University
Image for Banaras Hindu University

Banaras Hindu University

5/5(9 reviews)

Walk around the campus of Banaras Hindu University, a top university in Varanasi. Amble around the area's riverfront or visit its temples.

Dasaswamedh ghat
Image for Dasaswamedh ghat

Dasaswamedh ghat

4.5/5(10 reviews)

Observe sadhus conducting rituals, pilgrims bathing in holy water and priests performing the enthralling Ganga aarti ceremony on the banks of the Ganges River.

Ramnagar Fort
Image for Ramnagar Fort

Ramnagar Fort

4/5(6 reviews)

Admire the architecture of this 17th-century fort, discover exhibits of armor, jewelry and vintage cars and watch stunning sunsets over the Ganges River.

Durga Temple
Image for Durga Temple

Durga Temple

4.5/5(7 reviews)

Discover an immaculate image of a revered Hindu god and watch mischievous troops of monkeys at this attractive centuries-old temple.

Tulsi Ghat
Image for Tulsi Ghat

Tulsi Ghat

4/5(9 reviews)

Watch pilgrims bathe in sacred water, see holy men perform ancient rituals and visit the former home of a great Indian poet.

Dharmarajika Stupa
Image for Dharmarajika Stupa

Dharmarajika Stupa

5/5(4 reviews)

Founded to enshrine the remains of Lord Buddha, this ancient monument forms part of a Buddhist pilgrimage site home to monasteries, shrines and temples.

Reviews of Varanasi

4.1

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
10
5 - Excellent 41.666666666666664%
4 - Good
10
4 - Good 41.666666666666664%
3 - Okay
2
3 - Okay 8.333333333333334%
2 - Disappointing
1
2 - Disappointing 4.166666666666667%
1 - Terrible
1
1 - Terrible 4.166666666666667%

5/5 - Excellent

Abhiraj

13 Aug 2019

City of temple... lots of fun... very interesting sight seen..

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

30 May 2019

City is wonderful. Got a real feel of holiness

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

29 Mar 2019

This hotel gives you feel of Dharmasthala initially. Small galis and less transport gives you bad feeling But if you visit Varanasi the you must have to visit near by area of this hotel. So it's good to stay here.

4/5 - Good

Aanand

23 Feb 2019

The main attraction is the early morning cruise on the Ganga

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

14 Feb 2019

Must visit city

1/5 - Terrible

Verified traveller

12 Feb 2019

Will not be visiting and if I do I am likely to stay around Assi Ghat or the outskirts.