Highlights of Varanasi
Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India and is thought to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It is easily accessible and is about an hour’s flight from New Delhi and Jaipur.
It is of vast importance to Hindus and Buddhists as it is the iconic pilgrimage spot in the country filled with ancient and modern temples, ghats, ritual spots and much more. It draws in millions of visitors each year, either Hindus who have come to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges or tourists intrigued and observing the rituals either from the ghats or whilst on a boat ride on the river.
It is especially recommended to visit the banks of the River in the evening as it glistens from the glow of thousands of candles placed as an offering floating on the water.
Varanasi is also famous for the quality of silk products crafted by traditional weavers in the city’s backstreets, where saris and scarfs routinely take 15-20 days to make.
Visit a silk weaving factory
Whilst in Varanasi, a trip to a silk weaving factory is really fascinating and it is very interesting to see silk being woven in the traditional way. Very few hand weavers remain as technological advances have favoured power looms due to their speed and efficiency.
Weavers, mostly men, pass down their skills to their sons or next of kin. They are true specialists and the quality of a hand woven silk sari or shawl is incredible and definitely worth buying.
A recommended one to visit is called Mehta International Silk Centre. The Mehta family is one of the few Hindu families in the weaving business and their patterns mark a break from the Mughal-style Banarasi patterns.
Take a cycle Rickshaw ride through the streets of Varanasi
An excellent way to experience the streets of Varanasi and see the daily life of the locals, is to take a cycle rickshaw ride through the roads, leading up to the River.
The chaos, sights, smells and surroundings are really insightful and give a great glimpse into the inhabitants of this ancient city.
Boat ride on the River Ganges
A boat ride along the River Ganges, either at dawn or dusk, is an amazing experience. You will be able to see the different Ghats situated close to the banks of the Ganges, and get a panoramic view of the River and the region. Here you will also see the various Hindu rituals being observed such as cremation, as well as spiritual bathing.
A sunset boat ride is also spectacular to witness and experience. Every evening thousands of people assemble at the Dashashwamedh Ghat for the evening Ganga Aarti ceremony. Here a group of priests dressed in saffron and white robes conduct this ceremony and wave many oil lamps in the air. You will also hear conch shells being blown during the aarti. The ceremony is ended with the priests pouring a bowl of water into the River.
You will also visit Khajuraho, famous for groups of Hindu and Jain temples. These temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for their beautiful and erotic rock carvings.
Your last port of call is Varanasi, regarded as the spiritual capital of India. The city draws pilgrims who bathe in the River Ganges’ sacred waters and perform funeral rites. Along its winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the ‘Golden Temple,’ dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.
Alternatively, it can be added as an extension to another itinerary or can form part of a bespoke itinerary.
For more details call Simply India Holidays by Somak on 0208 423 3000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be delighted to help you plan your trip to Incredible India.